"I always quote Ringo Starr, that if it wasn't for this I'd probably be a hairdresser." That's Blondie drummer Clem Burke's canny answer to what his life's work would've been if the chart-topping New Wave band he started with Chris Stein and Debbie Harry hadn't taken off. It did, which means Burke wields drumsticks instead of a blow dryer and that Blondie remains a relevant force celebrating 40 years together (a Smithsonian doc about the band's anniversary airs March 21st). Part of that celebration included an invite to Austin, Texas, for SXSW, where the band played Rachael Ray's annual Feedback party. We tagged along while Blondie wowed the crowd and showed the festival's many younger bands how it's done. By Chad Swiatecki
Blondie bandmembers Chris Stein, Clem Burke and Debbie Harry meet up in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Austin.
On the way to the gig. SXSW 2014 was Stein's first go-around at the music festival.
A steady drizzle couldn't squash the spirits of fans who got to meet Harry up close.
No word on whether Harry or her bandmates added their names to the alumni list on the door of the green room at Stubb's.
Bassist Leigh Foxx stops for a chat before the show.
Keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen gives the international symbol for "I hate selfies."
Stein with former record industry publicist, DJ and manager BP Fallon backstage.
Stein, Harry and Burke have one last quick meeting before going onstage.
Burke takes a moment to pose with the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger's Charlotte Kemp Muhl.
Burke's leather jacket is lined with credentials and backstage passes from his favorite shows throughout the years.
Guitarists Stein and Kessler talk shop before heading out onstage.
Harry didn’t need to wave a towel to get the packed-in crowd worked up for Blondie's hits-laden show.
Party host and celebrity chef Rachael Ray spent the afternoon down front cheering on Blondie, Cee Lo Green, Cody Chesnutt and more.
Harry gave fans a big smile before the band kicked the show off with "One Way or Another."
Kessler stepped up close to the crowd throughout Blondie's 40-minute set.
A vision of Harry, reflected on Burke's drum surround, while Katz-Bohen stays focused on the keys.
Harry, still vibrant and fierce after 40 years in the game.
Stein was disappointed to learn Grumpy Cat had already left Austin and SXSW by the time Blondie got into town.
Harry takes a moment to make friends with a new generation of Blondie fans after the show.
Hitmaker Green stops backstage with Stein and Harry.
Harry was all smiles after the show, which featured songs like "A Rose By Any Name," from Blondie's new album Ghosts of the Download.
Stein said the band's new album shows his interest in new production technology and software often used by dance and EDM producers.
Sorry, we're full.
Forty years as a rock pioneer means Harry doesn’t even have to think about climbing into a tour van.