Louis Meyers, Former Folk Alliance Director and SXSW Founder, Dies

Photo pf Louis Meyers from Folk Alliance International Facebook page

By Mark Kemp

The Austin American-Stateman and Folk Alliance International have reported that Louis Meyers, a founder of the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference and former director of Folk Alliance, died early Friday from a heart attack.


Meyers booked acts at SXSW from its inception in 1987 until 1994, when he sold his share in the conference. Prior to his involvement in that popular annual music event, Meyers was a partner in the Austin club Liberty Lunch and manager of local bands.

According to the Statesman report by sometime AG contributor Peter Blackstock:

After his SXSW tenure, Meyers lived overseas for many years before returning to the United States to become director of Folk Alliance International, an annual convention in Kansas City. He left that position in 2014 and moved back to Austin, where he was managing local singer-songwriter Sam Baker.

At the time of his death, according to a report in the Kansas City Star:

Meyers was working on a TV project about Baker and had planned to be in Kansas City in April, he told The Star recently. Meyers said in 2014 that the Folk Alliance chose Kansas City for its annual conference for a variety of reasons.

“The quality of life, the cost of living and doing business,” he said. “The general forward progress of Kansas City was impressive. There are a lot of people doing things to make the city better every day.

“Plus, it’s in the middle of the country in a place that understands roots music . . .  There’s a lot of understanding around here of what we do musically and a lot of good players.”

Folk Alliance International posted this statement today on its Facebook page:

[Meyers] will be dearly missed by his friends and colleagues on our staff, board, in our membership, and the music community at large.

We are all thankful for having had the recent joy of his presence with us at our conference, and are forever grateful for his incredible role with us over the past decade.

In addition to his work in music behind the scenes, Meyers was a multi-instrumentalist and respected producer. Watch Meyers (below, at left) perform a sweet pedal steel solo on the Commander Cody classic “Down to Seeds and Stems Again Blues” with former Cody singer and guitarist Bill Kirchen:

Mark Kemp
Mark Kemp

Former AG editor Mark Kemp is the author of Dixie Lullaby: A Story of Music, Race, and New Beginnings in a New South (Simon & Schuster, 2004; University of Georgia Press, 2006).