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Off the Record

Music News

By Austin Powell, Fri., Aug. 29, 2008

Danny Roy Young (1941-2008)

After successfully rallying the area against expansion plans on South Lamar in the mid-1980s, Danny Roy Young, who died on Aug. 20 at St. David's South Austin Hospital of a heart attack, was dubbed the Mayor of South Austin. He was so much more.

Off the Record
Photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Young's unique and warm character personified the community's spirit. His former restaurant, Texicalli Grille, embodied its flavor, and his rubboard rhythms with Ponty Bone and the Cornell Hurd Band gave it a beat to shuffle to.

"Danny stood for old Austin in the best possible ways," remembers Bone. "Spiritually, he was cut from the same cloth as Doug Sahm and Clifford Antone. He was all-embracing and always eager to share his passions."

Born in Defiance, Ohio, on May 29, 1941, and raised in Kingsville, Texas, Young served in the Coast Guard before moving his family to Austin in 1975 to study philosophy at the University of Texas. In September 1981, he opened the first Texicalli Grille on South Lamar, where his passion for food and people, not to mention local music, politics, and baseball, made it a cultural hub long before it moved into an old Taco Bell on Oltorf in 1989. Young sold the Grille in 2006 due to rising rents and retired from the industry, though he spent his last four months employed as a part-time driver for Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

"Every time I was in Austin, I stopped by to see Danny and have a bowl of his tortilla soup," recalls Johnny Bush, who, along with countless other artists like Doug Sahm, Don Walser, and Johnny Gimble, performed at the restaurant's annual hootenanny during South by Southwest. "The walls in that place were covered with history, and he always made you feel welcome. He was very cordial and energetic, a man of his word."

While Young played drums with the Shades after graduating from high school, he didn't earn the title Lord of the Board until the mid-1980s, when he started playing with Bone and sitting in at the Broken Spoke. His custom fingertip percussion was a regular fixture at Jovita's for more than a decade as part of the Cornell Hurd Band's legendary Thursday residency, but it's the sheer pleasure of his company that will be most sorely missed.

"His ability as a rubboard player had absolutely nothing to do with his being in the band," stresses Hurd. "Danny himself was the reason why he was in the band. He was fun to be with, the most one-of-a-kind guy I ever met. His affinity and love for humanity was boundless. We all had so much left to learn from him."

Young is survived by his mother, Margo; wife Lu; son Scott; and daughter Holli Hegefeld, as well as a brother, three sisters, three granddaughters, and the undying spirit of South Austin. Services were held Tuesday at the First United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Young's honor to Any Baby Can, Meals on Wheels and More, Operation Blue Santa, and the Austin Children's Shelter.


Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

Boxing Lesson
Boxing Lesson
Photo by Victor Yiu/Courtesy of Boxing Lesson

While plenty of local bands fall under the mushroom cloud of stoner rock, none is more deserving of the title than the Boxing Lesson. In October 2006, drummer Jake Mitchell (on left in photo), along with two others, was arrested with more than 100 marijuana plants in North Austin. He was federally indicted last month with "conspiracy to manufacture marijuana" and sentenced to 60 months imprisonment with four years supervised release. Contrary to press statements made by the band's publicist, the charges had nothing to do with the PATRIOT Act but did arise through controversial tactics by the Austin Police Department wherein energy-consumption information, provided by Austin Energy, is used to (ahem) weed out suspects of marijuana-growing operations (see "APD Pot-Hunters Are Data-Mining at AE," Nov. 16, 2007).

"This is a crusade by the police," says Mitchell's lawyer, Daniel Wannamaker, who has filed an appeal, claiming that the APD's use of a drug dog on the property without a warrant violated his client's reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment. Mitchell, meanwhile, steps in the ring with the Boxing Lesson tonight (Thursday) for a MonkeyWrench Books benefit at Carousel Lounge and a final bow at Stubb's on Saturday, opening for the Black & White Years, before handing himself over to authorities on Wednesday. The band plans to continue without him. "It's not like I was out circling schools; it was just a service I provided because people wanted it," says Mitchell. "I like to think of myself as a very passive person, and it's probably because I smoke a lot of herb."


We Got the Beat

"Power-pop is basically punk rock for the masses, with real crisp, clean guitars, and good harmonies," explains Breakaway Records co-owner and Rock-a-Round Entertainment operator Mike Hooker. He should know. For nearly a year, Hooker has painstakingly organized the inaugural Wild Weekend Power Pop Festival, which features Paul Collins' Beat, the first U.S. appearance from the Boys since 1982, and a dozen more of the genre's finest over two nights at Mohawk, along with accompanying day parties at Beerland (see Music Listings, for more details). "We're also going to have venders like Bump Records setting up shop at the shows," Hooker adds. "It's going to be like a power-pop convention."


One for the Ages

The Continental Club, where Jon Dee Graham made his emotional return on Wednesday, is now an official Historic Landmark, following unanimous approval from City Council on Aug. 21. Any changes to the exterior of the building, which was constructed in 1947, will now require approval from the Historic Landmark Commission. "It's quite an honor," says owner Steve Wertheimer, whose trademark goatee is pending similar status. "With everything changing in the area and so many of these landmarks disappearing, it's nice to have some public recognition and a little extra protection for this area." The designation doesn't go into effect until the end of an obligatory 10-day appeal period, which means the commemorative plaque should be arriving in time for Redd Volkaert's weekly matinee on Saturday and mounted by the start of the equally historic soul revue that evening, courtesy of Archie Bell, Barbara Lynn, and the Mighty Hannibal.


Random Play

• Still feeling inspired from the Olympics? It's not too late to register for Sunday's Nike+ Human Race, a worldwide 10K marathon benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation, among other notable charities. For further motivation, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals are performing afterward at the finish line (Congress and 11th). See NikePlus.com for complete details.

• The Randy "Biscuit" Turner estate is going up for grabs, Aug. 30-31, at the late artist's former residence (2110 DeVerne St.). See Community Listings, for more information.

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