Grulke worked as a sound man, tour manager, and the music editor of the Austin Chronicle. He started with SXSW as a stage manager in 1987. In 1994, he was promoted to creative director, where he was in charge of booking. Grulke helped oversee the festival as it grew from a regional event to an international institution.
Here's a statement from SXSW director and co-founder Roland Swenson, via Austin 360:
“A lot of Brent’s personality was in SXSW. He was adventurous and knowledgeable and excited about creative people and endeavors. He didn’t like the usual and mundane. He was open-minded enough to know that his taste wasn’t always the most important thing, so he was open to new things.”