Blaze of Glory
Seven years in the making, techie-turned-filmmaker Kevin Triplett's documentary on Austin singer-songwriter Blaze Foley is inching toward completion. "I've interviewed 118 people so far," reckons Triplett, who hopes to be done in time for Cannes next year. That number includes testimonials from Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and several of Foley's South Austin cronies like Gurf Morlix, Lost John Casner, and Mandy Mercier. Triplett is seeking pictures of Foley and/or examples of his rather unique artwork; contact him at 462-2000 or email@example.com. Still to come, he hopes, are Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams (whose "Drunken Angel" is the only Foley tribute better known than its subject), and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who crossed paths with Foley in the musician's pre-Austin Georgia days. "Newt called him his own Bob Dylan," Triplett swears. The Palestine, Texas, native promises his film will provide a clearer picture of the events surrounding Foley's gunshot-related death in February 1989. "We think we've pieced enough together," he reveals. "Everybody at that house had been drinking pretty heavily that morning." In related alcohol-fueled poetic genius news, look for an Aug. 22 DVD of Austin scene doc Heartworn Highways, featuring James Szalapski's original 1975 film, plus new footage of Guy Clark, Steve Earle, John Hiatt, Rodney Crowell, and Foley running buddy Townes Van Zandt, with whom he once got kicked out of the Kerrville Folk Festival for backing an RV over some portable toilets.
In the Air Tonight
The long, slow, oddly cancerlike death of the new smoking ban continues as, at their very first meeting under the gavel of Mayor Will Wynn, the Austin City Council postponed the ban's effective date until Jan. 2. Besides affording bar owners some breathing room, so to speak, the extension also allows plenty of time for the newly formed Air Quality Task Force to study the issue. Consisting of local business owners, proponents of the ban, and technical advisers (i.e., health professionals, ventilation experts), the task force will spend the next several months determining, in the words of sole Red River representative John Wickham, "the risk of jogging along Town Lake breathing car exhaust versus somebody smoking in a club." Likening the task force's weekly meetings to a "discussion group," the Elysium owner says the body's chief aim is to make some sense out of what the council passed in May, which many view as thrown-together and contradictory. Though it successfully, if still theoretically, eliminates smoking in bars and nightclubs -- those without an outdoor patio, that is -- the ordinance is further riddled with loopholes allowing people in pool and VFW halls, bingo parlors, and even nursing homes, points out Wickham incredulously, to light up as they please. "How is that any better for you?" he wonders. "Why is the health of those employees worth less than people who work in bars?" Expect answers to these and other titillating questions as the purported effective date looms.
Soak It to Me
Despite a comatose economy and what some might term a less-than-ideal location, Red Eyed Fly partners Heath MacIntosh and Tom Pham have opened a second venue, Bixby's. The bar, once home to the Metro and Six of Clubs, now bears little resemblance to its previous incarnations. "We pretty much gutted it and rebuilt from the ground up," explains MacIntosh. He shrugs off any idea that previous tenants didn't enjoy the smoothest of rides because the building is somehow cursed. "I could go into great detail about why the two places didn't work, but I'd rather not," demurs MacIntosh. Bixby's opened quietly last Friday in preparation for this Friday's official ceremonies, and MacIntosh says the only music at the new club will be what's on the jukebox. "I don't want to have to book two clubs," he sighs. He adds, however, that Bixby's would make a good SXSW venue, and he's already thinking about adding live music happy hours somewhere down the road. Back at his other club, one band he had little trouble finding room for is Soak. MacIntosh played drums for the defunct local alt-rockers and hadn't spoken to singer Jason Demetri in two or three years until Demetri "happened by the bar one day, and we got to talking." Now the onetime Interscope signees play the Fly Friday, Aug. 1, as part of a trans-Texas reunion weekend.
Look who's got a new album out: razor-shunning Austin bards the Weary Boys. The fivepiece, now with NorCal homey Cary Ozanian on drums and piano, released their third CD, Good Times, earlier this month. Despite the title, Good Times is heavy on sad-eyed country laments and relatively light on the Boys' usual bluegrass barnburners. It's also notable because Weary-written originals -- "Cruel Corrine," "Haunt My Mind," "Eureka Town" -- outweigh traditional tunes like "California Blues" and "Kneeling Drunkard's Plea" for the first time. Resuming their itinerant ways, the local quintet will spend most of August touring the West, including an opening slot for Southern Culture on the Skids in San Diego. Before climbing in the van, they'll throw down 8pm Saturday at Threadgill's World Headquarters, itself becoming a major player in the South Austin booking scene. A recent South Austin Jug Band show drew hundreds to the tented venue at Riverside and Barton Springs Road, while punk-tempered bluesmen Scott H. Biram and John Schooley visit tonight, Thursday, and Denton demolition crew Slobberbone comes calling Friday. See "Club Listings."
Lone Star thespian Luke Wilson, onscreen lover to Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, and Reese Witherspoon (and that's just this summer!), was spotted doing some off-screen carousing at Club DeVille last weekend... Heybale! six-string wizard/walking advertisement for Dickies overalls Redd Volkaert appears on "Spaghetti Western Swing," a cut off honky-tonk torchbearer Brad Paisley's new CD, Mud on the Tires... The Adam Sultan Moment and 20-Eyed Dragon play a party welcoming the Fresh Up Club to the Refraction Arts Project, 8pm, Saturday, at the Blue Theater, 916 Springdale Rd. Other planned entertainment includes short plays, film screenings, and a puppet show. Admission is $5... Backpacker alert: Freestyle Fellowship member Self Jupiter, who has ghost-written rhymes for Aceyalone, stops by the Flamingo Cantina Friday with the Rifleman of L.A.'s Project Blowed. ATX Records owner Haps and DJ Phil hold it down for the home folks... How's this for a gig? Mystical Austin rockers Dreamtrybe will headline the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Centennial Celebration in Ninilchik, Ala., so if you're in the vicinity of the Kenai Peninsula State Fairgrounds next Saturday, stop on by... Friendster fever reached a new high-water mark this week when Austin scenester sleepnotwork sold a spot in his network for $4 on eBay. "By becoming my Friendster, you'll be getting in on the ground floor with a group of Austin's most creative people," he wrote. "Many of whom are sure to go on to the sort of mid-level celebrity enjoyed by, say, those guys who used to be in At the Drive-In."
Former Chronicle contributor and It Came From Memphis author Robert Gordon will sign copies of his Muddy Waters biography, Can't Be Satisfied, 7pm Tuesday at BookPeople. The book follows Waters from his Mississippi childhood to Chicago's rough-and-tumble South Side, where he became the backbone of Chess Records, to encounters with the Rolling Stones and young Antone's bluesmen Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan, and Kim Wilson. Waters, in Gordon's estimation, "brought respect to a culture dismissed as offal." The author will also attend a screening of Can't Be Satisfied's documentary counterpart, which he co-directed and co-produced, 9pm Wednesday at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown.
Sink the 'Pink'
Appearing twice in last week's Chronicle alone, the soundtrack to John Hughes' 1986 rich-boy/ poor-girl/spazz love triangle Pretty in Pink is the hot rock-critic reference point. Everybody knows the album introduced U.S. high school and college students to the soaring violins of OMD's synth-pop gem "If You Leave," as well as the natty dressing-gown rock of the Psychedelic Furs (headed for the Mercury in September) and Echo & the Bunnymen. So besides New Order and the Smiths, what else is on there?
SUZANNE VEGA "Left of Center"
Vega may or may not play it at Antone's next weekend, but this skittish ode to bohemia doubles as a catchy manifesto for Molly Ringwald's Andie.
JESSE JOHNSON "Get to Know Ya"
Prince was too big a star by 1986, so the filmmakers settled for this not-half-bad knockoff by then-unknown (and still-unknown) Johnson.
INXS "Do Wot You Do"
Not as jubilant as Lost Boys offering "Good Times" but a worthwhile sampling of the Aussies' lithe funk-rock before '87's Kick made them huge.
BELOUIS SOME "Round, Round"
Guitar-heavy club track tragically overshadowed by Dead or Alive's concurrent exploration of similar subject matter on "You Spin Me 'Round."
DANNY HUTTON HITTERS "Wouldn't It Be Good"
The slightest of the soundtrack's 10 songs as a guitar/keyboard mash-up vaguely reminiscent of Dan Hartman's "I Can Dream About You."
Blaze Foley, Kevin Triplett, Smoking Ban, Will Wynn, John Wickham, Heath MacIntosh, Tom Pham, Red Eyed Fly, Bixby's, Soak, Weary Boys, Threadgill's, Pretty In Pink, Muddy Waters, Robert Gordon, Luke Wilson, Redd Volkaert, Brad Paisley, Self Jupiter, Dreamtrybe