- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 21, 2009

AUSTIN, TEXAS (AP) - Cheering stage left at her party at South By Southwest, Rachael Ray whooped for her husband’s band, the Cringe.

“Hell yeah!” exclaimed the talk show host with the little voice she had left from an afternoon of partying.

For the second year in a row, Ray hosted a daytime party at SXSW, the annual music conference and festival. Across the three-leveled downtown Austin bar Maggie Mae’s on Saturday played the Hold Steady, the New York Dolls, Bob Schneider, Ra Ra Riot, the Thermals, Semi-Precious Weapons, John Pringle, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and the Cringe, who are led by Ray’s husband John Cusimano.

It was one of the biggest parties held at SXSW this week. After some were surprised that the celebrity cook held a party last year, this year, she’s beginning to feel like a mainstay.

“I’ll keep throwing parties as long as Austinites will keep coming,” said Ray in an interview backstage. “I was so thrilled that last year everybody received us pretty warmly and this year it’s bigger.”

Ray described the party as the melding of a lot of her loves: Austin, food and music.

On the menu Saturday: smoked chipotle and black bean chilaquiles, ancho chicken soft tacos, beer and beef chili sliders with tomatillo ketchup and jalapeno pepper mac ‘n cheese.

The lineup is chosen through what Ray calls “blind discs.” Her husband (an idie rock fan) and friends give her mix CDs without telling her what’s on them and she decides what she likes.

“Just like food, I don’t grade music,” said Ray, who danced enthusiastically during the Hold Steady’s performance.

The Semi-Precious Weapons, a glam rock band from New York, were impressed by the party.

“It’s amazing,” said the band’s lead singer, Justin Tranter. “The food is fantastic. The bands that she got to play are awesome. She’s got really cool, amazing taste that she should be really proud of.”


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