PAST RECOMMENDED SHOWS:
03/11/14 @ Continental ClubSwollen Circus
Now in its second decade, the Swollen Circus remains an official kick-off to South by Southwest Music. Curated by Michael Hall (Wild Seeds) and Walter Salas-Humara (Silos), it tosses a heady mix of old and new. Jon Dee and William Harries Graham and Amy Cook are known quantities this year, joined by ex-members of Aussie New Wavers Mental as Anything in Dog Trumpet, the Fauntleroys – fronted by Alejandro Escovedo, Nicholas Tremulis, and Ivan Julian – and much more.
11/06/13 @ Continental ClubWild Seeds
Rejuvenated Eighties locals rock you all night long before James McMurtry.
09/06/13 @ Continental ClubChuck Prophet
Chuck Prophet went solo in 1990 after roots rockers Green on Red faded to black. The Mission district bard marries a Lou Reed-ian talk/bark with mellifluous Telecaster picking, most recently on his San Francisco homage Temple Beautiful. Perfectly paired with local lit rockers the Wild Seeds on Friday, he switches from headliner to support for Austin guitar wrecker Jon Dee Graham on Saturday, an all-in-the-family match given Prophet’s prolific collaboration with the latter’s True Believers bandmate Alejandro Escovedo.
05/12/13 @ Continental ClubMargaret Moser Birthday Bash
My sad, panicked reaction to Margaret Moser’s text from the hospital back in February to tell me she had cancer and was undergoing surgery turned into action. I asked her permission to plan a benefit show. We’re calling it her birthday bash since her birthday’s May 16. I interviewed Moser with my version of the Marcel Proust questionnaire.
William Harries Graham: What no one knows about you?
Margaret Moser: I’m a high school dropout who got a GED in my 30s by taking night classes through AISD.
WHG: Your idea of perfect happiness?
MM: Sitting outside Saturday evenings with my boyfriend, a tall glass of iced tea, and Paul Ray’s Twine Time on KUTX.
WHG: Greatest fear?
MM: It used to be the fear of dying in an unknown way. Now it’s that I won’t get to do all the things I want before I check out, like travel. I’d like to go to Eastern Europe.
WHG: Trait you most deplore in yourself?
MM: Being too bossy.
WHG: Most overrated virtue?
WHG: When and where were you happiest?
MM: Three days in 2010 I spent in Amsterdam alone.
WHG: Current state of mind?
MM: Doing pretty good for the shape I’m in, to quote the Arc Angels.
WHG: Greatest achievement?
MM: That there’s a generation of young local musicians I helped introduce.
WHG: Lowest depth of misery?
MM: Drug addiction as a
WHG: What do you most value in your friends?
MM: Their loyalty, support,
WHG: Favorite musicians?
MM: Jimi Hendrix, Slim Harpo, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmie Vaughan.
3:45pm: Finley Sexton/Seaside Swifts
4:30: Ty Gavin
4:45: Kathy Valentine
5: Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison
6:30: Jon Dee Graham & the Skunks
7: Alejandro Escovedo
7:30 Wild Seeds
8: Mystic Knights of the Sea, with Lou Ann Barton and Jimmie Vaughan
09/08/12 @ ACL Live at the Moody TheaterGrulkefest
See that tattoo of the horse encircled by flames on the Grulkefest poster? I watched as my late ex-husband Rollo Banks applied it to the late Brent Grulke’s upper arm at the old China Sea Tattoo Company on Guadalupe sometime around 1985. I can still remember the tobacco-stanky walls, lined in brilliantly colored flash, and Brent wincing without complaint as Rollo sank the ink in his flesh.
Neither of those gentlemen are with us now, but come Saturday at the Moody Theater, they’ll be watching what we’re doing down here. That’s celebrating the life of Brent Grulke – father, husband, friend, family – with a perfect group of usual suspects: True Believers, Sixteen Deluxe, Fastball, Doctors’ Mob, Glass Eye, the Reivers, the Wannabes, Wild Seeds, and whoever else will be moved to get onstage and deal with the crushing pain of losing, not just a friend, but a beloved and integral part of the local music community.
Those are the right bands for the occasion, too, a loose gathering of post-punk and so-called “New Sincerity” survivors with a touch of early Nineties zeitgeist. At one end of the through line, Alejandro Escovedo and Jon Dee Graham anchor the True Believers with marching, charging guitars, while at the other Carrie Clark and Frenchie Smith summon Trance Syndicate Records’ neutron fuzz bomb. At all points in between regroup Cinderella stories (Fastball), Daniel Johnston-inspiring art rock (Glass Eye), cult indie legends (the Reivers, neé Zeitgeist), eternal ATX bar rock (the Wannabes, Doctors' Mob), and the anthemic cutting edge of Brent’s collaborative past (Wild Seeds).
While we at the Chronicle remember Brent Grulke as Music editor, it was his position as creative director of South by Southwest that honed his sharp vision and exquisitely good taste into never-to-be-forgotten showcases. And if it’s true that music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, it will be conjured over and over to ease this staggering loss. Proceeds benefit the Graham Grulke Education Fund.