Off the Record
I Turn My Camera On
The giant mosaic that is the annual South by Southwest Music Festival is quickly coming together. One notable piece that's gone missing this year is Beerland. The Red River staple is forgoing the traditional route, instead hosting a series of unofficial showcases that include Austin's Super Secret Records and Mortville Records on Wednesday and Memphis' garage-punk label/store Goner Records on Friday (www.beerlandtexas.com). Despite the dropout, SXSW has a record high 75 official venues this year, up from only 59 last year, with expansions into the Eastside (Scoot Inn), bottle-service nightclubs (Pangaea), and even the comedy circuit (Esther's Follies). Following the success of last year's premiere programming, DirecTV partners with SXSW once more for a series of free, live broadcasts from the Austin Convention Center that feature some of this year's biggest headlining acts, including Daryl Hall, Martha Wainwright, Dizzee Rascal, Daniel Lanois, X, and Carbon/Silicon. Badges and wristbands get first priority, but if you have neither, free tickets for available space can be had at the door. That's, of course, in addition to SXSW's free shows at Auditorium Shores throughout the week, most notably Spoon and Grupo Fantasma on Thursday and the Ice Cube-led hip-hop shakedown Saturday. "We sponsored 64 day parties last year and more than 90 this year," says SXSW Managing Director Roland Swenson. "This notion that we're out to crush parties is somewhat mythical."
Meanwhile, at least 400 more wristbands, priced to move at $165 and limited to one per customer, are going on sale Wednesday, 9:30am, at Waterloo Records (cash or credit only). There are no residency requirements, but the wristband must be put on at the time of purchase. More wristbands will likely become available through alternative outlets. To receive further updates from SXSW, text "join" to 47979.
Bassist Roy "Pia" Ramos of the Texas Revolution, formerly known as Mexican Revolution and led by brother and Tejano Music Awards Hall of Fame inductee Ruben Ramos, died on Sunday. He was 62. A memorial service took place this morning (Thursday) at Mission Funeral Home (1615 E. Cesar Chavez).
An eBay auction for the World's Greatest Record Collection, valued at more than $3 million, ended uneventfully last month with a fraudulent bid. Around that same time, Edward N. Meyer donated his jazz archive to St. Edward's University, where he's adjunct faculty. Valued at more than $47,000, the collection boasts more than 2,300 LPs, focusing primarily on pre-1945 recordings from small groups led by the likes of Louis Armstrong and Freddie Keppard, and will be open to the general public at the Scarborough-Phillips Library.
Local folksinger Steve Brooks won the first annual Molly Ivins Songwriting Contest for his original "What Would Molly Do?" honoring the late political columnist. The competition was hosted by the grassroots campaign Raise Hell for Molly Ivins, and judged by a panel that included Kinky Friedman and Country Joe McDonald.
My Education has signed with Seattle imprint Strange Attractors Audio House, the residence of Nels Cline, Kinski, and Six Organs of Admittance. The local instrumentalists are scheduled to release their highly anticipated third album, Bad Vibrations, in June.
Dancin' on My Grave
Ghostland Observatory's sold-out laser extravaganza at the Austin Music Hall on Friday, commemorating the release of Robotique Majestique, and Justice's decibel-crushing set at Stubb's on Monday felt like opposite sides of the same coin. Both Daft Punk-inspired duos approach dance music with stadium-rock bombast. While the latter filtered French electronica through a literal wall of Marshall amps, Austin's GLO ended its evening in historic fashion, flanked by members of the UT Longhorn Band for the oddly appropriate anthem "The Band Marches On."
Staying at the Hyatt
"It's exciting to me for people to get to hear his songs," Lyle Lovett told the Chronicle before the release of his covers collection, Step Inside This House ("Lyle Lovett," Sept. 11, 1998). "I tell you, it's not repaying a debt to Walter, at all. It's being able to enjoy a gift that Walter has given to me and to all of us, really – his songs." Lovett is confirmed for the gift exchange and tribute to Walter Hyatt at the 2007-08 Austin Music Awards, Wednesday at the Austin Music Hall, alongside Warren Hood, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and David Ball. For more on the awards, see "If You Have Ghosts."
Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye
"Psychedelic music was born here with the 13th Floor Elevators, and it's having a huge resurgence now," posits guitarist Christian Bland of the Black Angels. He's right on both counts. Roky Erickson's epic comeback, along with Scott Conn's documentary, Dirt Road to Psychedelia, has renewed interest in Austin's early psych scene, while the Angels' debut, 2006's Passover, clearly descended from the Elevators' landmark LP Easter Everywhere. The band's Directions to See a Ghost, due in May, only deepens the connection, thickening the grooves and channeling 'Vators jug blower Tommy Hall's attempts toward Christ consciousness. Resurrecting the spirit of Austin's bygone psych haven the Vulcan Gas Company, the Angels host and headline Saturday's Austin Psych Fest No. 1 at the Red Barn (6701 Burnet Rd.), featuring local psych-revivalists the Strange Boys, Ringo Deathstarr, Horse + Donkey, and Elevators tribute band Acid Tomb, not to mention the Brian Jonestown Massacre side project the Quarter After and L.A.-based spaghetti Western surrealists Spindrift. Bland hopes to turn the 900-capacity venue into an avant-garde theatre suitable for like-minded artists. "I think having Roky play at the Red Barn would bring things full circle," hints Bland. Meantime, the Angels join Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Trail of Dead for Erickson's annual Psychedelic Ice Cream Social at Threadgill's World Headquarters March 13, benefiting the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. Psychedelic pioneer Powell St. John, who played with Janis Joplin in the Waller Creek Boys and wrote "Kingdom of Heaven" for the Elevators' debut, returns to Threadgill's on Monday before his SXSW showcase with Birdman Records at Room 710 next Saturday.
Not all kids are content to merely play Guitar Hero. Since 1991, Natural Ear Music School has provided crash courses in rock & roll, without sheet music. The Austin institution recently moved into a larger facility (103 Krebs) and, following the departure of Alvin & Jason Crow, added a few notable instructors, including resident drum coach Sam McCandless of Cold, Disturbed's John Moyer, 3 Balls of Fire leader Mike Vernon, and Leeann Atherton. Further in the realm of kidcore, Girls Rock Camp Austin and Gibson Guitar are hosting a free day party next Friday at Austin Java, featuring local youths Code Rainbow! and college kids Follow That Bird!
Fear of a Punk Planet
The ink has finally dried on Transmission Entertainment's acquisition of Red 7 (see "DIY or Die," June 22, 2007). The entertainment enterprise is now a co-owner of the hardcore haven along with club manager Jared Cannon. The new lease went into effect in time for the Vandals' only Texas appearance on Saturday. "It's exciting building and working on something new, especially when everyone is so supportive and behind it," says Transmission booker Graham Williams. A new sound system was installed this week, and renovations, including additional soundproofing to the outside patio, should be completed in time for SXSW.