Dancing About Architecture
Everyone is retiring or dying.
Kerrville in My Rear-View Mirror
Citing various reasons including exhaustion, advancing age, and the need for a long-overdue vacation, Kerrville Folk Festival founder/producer Rod Kennedy announced last Thursday that the current fest, No. 31 in the annual series, would be his last. This year's event, which is coming up on its second weekend and runs through June 9, is the second festival under new ownership, with Kennedy having sold the presidency of the KFF in 1999 to Vaughn Hafner. Kennedy, who at the age of 72 has decided "it's time to turn things down to 'medium,'" says he expects a replacement for his production position to be chosen by Labor Day, while he's catching up on "a lot of things I have given up for the last 31 years." Among those, he lists soaking up sun in heavenly Hawaii, getting together with his many friends in the wine industry, and the Indy 500, which he mournfully relates that he hasn't had a chance to take in since 1970. In his absence, Kennedy says he expects the famed folk convergence to evolve and is comfortable with that. He allows, however, that he's looking forward to producing smaller events in lieu of the monster Kerrville extravaganza. "Putting on events for 500 people is a lot easier than for 30,000 -- and a lot more fun!" he exclaims. There's a noticeable lilt in the onetime amateur racing champion's voice that rises every time the subject of a finely tuned V-8 comes up -- making it clear that while he may be thinking smaller, he's by no means planning on slowing down!
The Woes of San Antone
As punishing and powerful as a Texas tornado, twin shock waves hit the music scene of nearby San Antonio this week. First came news that the Alamo City's "Chicano Blues Man" Randy Garibay passed away last Wednesday after a brief struggle with lung and brain cancer. Garibay had been a centerpiece of San Antonio music as far back as most living Texans can remember, from classic early rock and Tex-Mex recordings in the Sixties through steady gigging into the present. Ironically, though he played far more in SA than Austin, Garibay had become more prolific on the shelves of local record stores in the last year, following the passing of his old friend and sometime bandmate Doug Sahm. In the burst of attention following Sahm's passing, many of his early recordings flooded a welcoming market, Garibay's name and photo also adorning a number of them. In fact, many of the same mourners who traveled south on I-35 two and a half years ago for Sahm's sayonara repeated the same torpid trek on Monday to bid goodbye to Garibay.
And since tragedy loves company, there were more than a few folks out there who got double duty from an expensive suit rental. That's due to the disheartening discovery that Texas Tornados founding member Oscar Tellez also passed away this last woeful week. Tellez was killed when his pickup rolled on Saturday night/Sunday morning returning from a gig in rural San Antonio and he was thrown from the vehicle. Tellez, one of the best bajo sexto (a large member of the guitar family) players in the business, had played many years with the Texas Tornados, Flaco Jimenez, Mingo Saldivar, and other top CenTex conjunto acts, and would often sit in with Austin's Gulf Coast Playboys. Much like Garibay's case, I'm told that Tellez's last show in Austin was way back in March, at Threadgill's World Headquarters with Saldivar during SXSW week. Tellez's friend Bradley Williams describes Tellez as "A true musical soul. He was happy-go-lucky ... content playing his music and pleasing the crowd wherever he went ... whether it was the international concert stage or sitting in your living room singing children's songs to your kids." Those wishing to offer condolences and/or donations to help defray the medical expenses of the Garibay family contact: Mrs. Randy Garibay, 1105 West Mulberry, San Antonio, TX 78201. Funeral services for Tellez will be in San Antonio some time this week, with flower/donation info to follow.
A Galaxy of Hurt
Though the once-popular Internet-based free music source Napster is no longer a household buzzword (nor much of anything else, for that matter), the battle over music industry dollars and sense is far from over. Following legal action on file-sharing services like Kazaa, Morpheus, and Madster, the Recording Industry Association of America has now set its site-snuffing sights on Austin-based Audiogalaxy. In court last Friday, the RIAA claimed that Audiogalaxy hasn't done enough to protect against copyrighted files being shared by its users. The complaint was issued despite what are being described as "good-faith efforts" by Audiogalaxy to block specified files at copyright owners' requests. The RIAA represents AOL/Time-Warner, Sony, Capitol, and pretty much any other entity in the recording industry that could be accurately described with the word "behemoth," and they've furthermore been joined at the gunwale by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA). Filed in New York, the suit charges that Audiogalaxy's efforts to filter access to copyrighted songs have been ineffective and names both the company and CEO Michael Merhej, with 476 copyrighted works that can be downloaded using Audiogalaxy forming the basis of the suit. The RIAA admits that Audiogalaxy filters some searches, but claims their copyright-based blocking appears "haphazard" and thus legally unacceptable. Expect the case to drag on longer than a Rick Wakeman keyboard solo.
Ranting and Raving
Had enough of the recent fracas over local sound ordinances, the national Internet radio fee proposals, and the exciting new serial adventures of "The RIAA vs. the Airwave Pirates"? If those ongoing stories haven't made you want to jab pencils in your ears, let's not lose track of that other ongoing freedom-sucking saga, the put-raves-in-their-graves movement. A new bill on that subject has quietly slipped into the works, labeled as an "Anti-Meth bill," and ostensibly designed to stop raves from being drug markets. Sandwiched in the bill is a provision (section 305) that seeks to expand on previous rave-related bills and increase their already dangerously nebulous nature. Under the newer, vaguer bill, the promoter of any live music event or public festival of any kind could find themselves in jail if any drug is sold by anyone in attendance at any time during the event. In other words, if one Juggalo sells a nickel bag of schwag at a show, his five could get the promoter 10 -- and such Draconian measures would surely lead to the death of live concerts. Well, I ask, why stop there? To be truly thorough in the enforcement of this law, any time you hold a party at your home and a guest spends more than five minutes in the bathroom, you'd better make sure that when they come out it's stinky! See the full story at: www.jambase.com/headsup.asp?storyID=2442 or www.futureofmusic.org/news/radioissuesstatement.com.
Speaking of stinkiness and the law (not to mention "down-loading"), the Dung Beatles have finished their tracking and mixing, and continue to squeeze inch by inch toward the release of their de-butt album. If you've missed 'em, their schtick is to rewrite the Fab Four's faves as odes to odoriferous offal (that's poo to you). You can imagine that Apple's lawyers are already preparing to hit the road. (Get it, boy? Dung? Road Apples? That's a joke, son!) Fortunately for the Flatulent Four, it appears that the Beatle barristers will likely wait until after they finish suing Queen Elizabeth. Y'see, Her Majesty announced this week that between 1 and 1:30pm on Monday, her subjects across the U.K. are to join the aging Queen in a mass sing-along of the Lennon/McCartney classic "All You Need Is Love." (By my calculations, that's the rather music-unfriendly hour of 7 to 7:30am here in Austin.) Or are orders handed down by royalty exempt from paying royalties?
Not all news is bad news, I'm glad to say. This Friday marks the return of Austin blues rockers the Gary Delz Power Trio to live performing. After guitarist Alan Stewart was struck head-on in a collision near Bastrop on last November, the band canceled a winter tour promoting the release of their third CD, Here to Stay. Stewart has since undergone rehabilitation on his left arm and hand including guitar-playing rehab work, enabling the band to return to the stage. The trio plays the Flamingo Cantina on Friday for the R.O.T. Rally Biker Party, and Saturday at the new Austin Harley Davidson Buell store for the KLBJ Dyna Wide Glide Giveaway Party at 3pm... Whither the Hole in the Wall? The answer to that query would yet appear to be "thither, for the nonce." As their final lease expires and the venue proceeds on a "month to month" existence, there's no talk about giving up the ship per se. On the other hand, Debbie Rombach admits she's not currently booking any shows past June 30. Asked about the possibility of bar-hopping over to Mango's, Rombach says she wouldn't mind the larger nearby building one bit, but adds that the rent there would be prohibitive... Hard to port! Lower the frizzenfram! The KLBJ-sponsored Days of the New show with Podunk and Alice Rose is no longer anchored in Waterloo Park. Instead, sail over to Danny Crooks' Riverside-docked Steamboat for the relocated June 8 show... Okay, gang, I'm in shock here! It's definitely time for a new Austin song to hit the pop charts -- I just polled a dozen people and only two could correctly finish the phrase "Where were they going without ..." (the right reply is, "... ever knowing the way," from the Fastball hit). Well, there's good news of the next-best-thing variety. "Gravitate," the new single from Dallas' Chomsky, has floated up to No. 82 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (between Ludacris and Ashanti). Now all it has to do is continue gravitating upward...