Congratulations to Chronicle shutterbug Gary "Moondog" Miller, who won local Web site ClubKingSnake.com's 2006 photo contest, beating out more than 500 other images with a picture similar to this shot of the late James Brown at his May 10 Stubb's show. The tiebreaking vote came from none other than Alice "Welcome to My Nightmare" Cooper.
BULLET THE BLUE SKY
Musician's police report of the week lottery winner is bluesy flamenco brothers Del Castillo. Their trailer was stolen from outside their studio during last Wednesday night's torrential downpour, and recovered by police Jan. 7 minus several expensive pieces of equipment. "[The thieves] obviously knew what they were doing," Mark del Castillo told News 8 Austin. "Nobody comes out in the rain." Well, almost nobody. Please contact APD at 974-5265 or the band at firstname.lastname@example.org with any information.
Austin lost out to San Antonio as host of this season's American Idol regional auditions, but reigning Idol Taylor Hicks visited the Continental Club and upstairs Gallery several times last week, soaking up some of that Elvis vibe before his upcoming U.S. tour. As if you didn't know, the search for Hicks' successor begins Tuesday on Fox.
Monday's Congress Avenue bird deaths prompted a wealth of speculation on the still-undetermined cause, none better than Austin cutups the Midgetmen's assertion: "This is retribution [for] when a bird shit on our guitarist's shoulder during a photo shoot last summer." Naturally, our avian friends have been intertwined with human-created music since long before Hans Christian Andersen's beautiful 1865 folktale The Bird of Popular Song. More recently, they swoop and soar through oft-recorded jazz standard "Lady Bird" (Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon), classic Alan Bergman pop song "Yellow Bird" (Eartha Kitt, Lawrence Welk, Chris Isaak), and, it goes without saying, Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird," which appears on practically every Seventies rock compilation ever made. Then there's the Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird," also done by the Cramps, Ramones, and Queers; Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash's "Bird on a Wire"; Stevie Nicks' "Nightbird" and her Fleetwood Mac colleague Christine McVie's "Songbird"; and Little Jimmy Dickens' immortal "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose." "The singing-bird soared away, over mountain and valley, over field and wood," writes Andersen. "He was the Bird of Popular Song, who never dies."
Several of Austin's pre-eminent punk bands, namely the Lower Class Brats, Krum Bums, and Complete Control, are such thanks largely to TKO Records, their Huntington Beach, Calif., label. TKO grew out of the mid-Nineties San Francisco scene of bands like One Man Army, Working Stiffs, and the Bodies, but Austin was part of the equation almost from the beginning. TKO's very first LP was the Dead End Cruisers' Deep Six Holiday in 1999, and "Lower Class Brats were on the fourth release the label ever did, a split single with the Templars," says TKO owner Mark Rainey. "We've had allies in Austin since day one." Rainey flew the Brats to their first California show in 1999, cultivating a friendship until signing them in 2005 and releasing last year's spark plug, The New Seditionaries. "They finally made the record they were meant to make," Rainey says. March 20, TKO releases the Brats' live CD/DVD, Loud & Out of Tune, recorded in L.A. and Seattle last summer, two weeks after the Krum Bums' first domestic LP, As the Tide Turns. Complete Control, who shared a split single with the Bums last summer, are adjusting to a recent lineup shuffle and "working up new material as we speak," Rainey swears. "Especially in Southern California, every band in the world comes here, and you really have to bring your A game to impress the kids," he adds. "Those Texas bands have just kicked everybody's ass."
KNOCKED OUT LOADED
Although Emo's recently concluded annual onslaught of post-New Year free local music was both artistically and financially off 2006's blistering pace, the Red River cornerstone still has plenty to crow about. For starters, Playboy.com named it one of the Top 10 rock clubs in America last week, a distinction shared by Chicago's Empty Bottle, New York's Mercury Lounge, and Minneapolis' First Avenue. "I'm waiting for my invite to the mansion," says Emo's forever quotable owner, Frank Hendrix. "I'll be in the grotto with the blondes." As for Free Week, even diminished it's a vital part of the venue's midwinter bottom line. "Between that and [this weekend's] tattoo convention, that'll get us through January," admits the owner. Meanwhile, Emo's planned Las Vegas outpost recently hit a snag when Hendrix realized one of his fellow investors' vision for the club was more South Beach than Red River. "We weren't even six weeks into the deal, and he's bouncing stuff off me that's totally not Emo's," Hendrix says. "He wanted to change the colors of the logo to teal, pink, white, and purple. I thought we'd all have to wear white sport coats." In a total Vegas move, Mr. Pink bought the building in question anyway and now wants to lease it to Hendrix and friends, who remain convinced of Sin City's appetite for live music. "It's still on the burner," he says. "There's a viable market out there."
IN FOR SIN
Signing up as a SXSW volunteer has become serious business. "It's really not a good option for people just looking for a free wristband," says SXSW volunteer coordinator Jillian Lobstein. The 2007 volunteer call is Sunday, Jan. 21, in the Hilton Downtown's main ballroom, 3:30pm for rookies, 5:30pm for veterans. It's hard work, the sort that goes practically unnoticed by Conference registrants and performers but without which SXSW couldn't operate on the level it does. Besides a point-blank view of how the world's pre-eminent music conference operates, not to mention valuable life experience in how to stay cool under extreme duress, daytime Conference workers earn badges or wristbands according to hours worked, while club volunteers ("production") earn a music badge through four nights of work. That only leaves one night to roam freely, but Lobstein says the Festival wants to accommodate volunteers as much as possible. "We try to match them based on their music preferences," she says. "We do want to put them at clubs where they'll enjoy the music." Volunteers must be 16 years old, 21 for production; see www.sxsw.com/volunteer or e-mail email@example.com for more.
STEP THIS WAY
Emo's, Playboy, Frank Hendrix, TKO Records, Lower Class Brats, Dead End Cruisers, Krum Bums, Complete Control, Hans Christian Andersen, Gary Miller, James Brown, Alice Cooper, Del Castillo, American Idol, Taylor Hicks, MySpace secret shows