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Off the Record

Music News

By Austin Powell, Fri., Sept. 25, 2009

Mad Men: Uncle Lucius at GSD&M Idea City
Mad Men: Uncle Lucius at GSD&M Idea City
Photo by John Anderson

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Not even intermittent rain showers could dampen the spirit and enthusiasm for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians Benefit Day on Tuesday. While performances at City Hall, Phil's Icehouse, and the 26 Doors Shopping Center were canceled due to the weather, the fourth annual observance still hosted 94 performances across 60 stages as part of a 20-hour marathon, most of which were fairly well-attended, while 170 local businesses agreed to donate 5% of their sales on Tuesday and/or make a cash donation to HAAM. Uncle Lucius' afternoon performance at Austin's Mad Men mecca, GSD&M Idea City, was moved to a third floor conference room, and for a few dozen people the local quartet delivered a fiery sermon of Southern soul that would loosen even Don Draper's necktie, the interplay between dual vocalists/guitarists Kevin Galloway and Mike Carpenter recalling a roots-oriented collision of the Allman Brothers and CSN&Y, especially in the band's thunderous version of "Cortez the Killer." Even that was merely a teaser compared to Uncle Lucius' set later that evening at the Saxon Pub. "People didn't let the rain stop them," says HAAM Executive Director Carolyn Schwarz, who had hoped to raise $150,000. "There were some difficulties in the morning, but we got it all together by the afternoon and had a great evening. It's a little early to talk numbers, but I think we're going to hit our mark."

The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion

"If I had to say two words to describe us," pauses Sean Faires, the fire-cracking singer/guitarist for the Happen-Ins, "it'd be rhythm and fuzz." The newly minted local quartet, pearl snaps and cowboy boots all around, demonstrates a cocksure swagger to fill out its collective bell-bottoms, a simmering cauldron of Texas roadhouse raunch and brown sugar boogie. It's a combination of chemistry and credentials: Faires and bassist John Michael Schoepf led the Dedringers, drummer Paul Valdez kept time for the Harlem Orchestra, and guitarist Ricky Ray Jackson fronted Lomita (see "Gilded Palace of Sin," April 27, 2007) and moonlights in Brothers and Sisters. The Happen-Ins complete a three-week run at the Hole in the Wall on Monday night with McKay Brothers and Mike & the Moonpies before Jackson leaves for a brief run with Phosphorescent and joins Schoepf in the studio backing Hayes Carll. Come January, the Happen-Ins should happen full-time in preparation for the release of their recently recorded debut LP. "We wanted to get something going on that has attitude, like the Replacements or Big Star's first record," says Jackson. "We just want to play some rock & roll and have a good time."

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Off the Record
Photo courtesy of Tom Tracy

Never one to follow conventional standards, the queen bee of Americana, Lucinda Williams, tied the knot with manager Tom Overby onstage last Saturday at the First Avenue in Minneapolis, kicking off her 30th anniversary tour. Along with locals Rosie Flores, Mandy Mercier, Carrie Rodriguez, Ana Egge, and Amy Cook, senior writer Margaret Moser made the trek and has the full scoop on the Chronicle Music blog ("Love Is All Around," Earache!, Sept. 21). In true rock & roll fashion, the newlyweds skipped the first dance in favor of an encore: the Rolling Stones' "Happy" and AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)."

Fly on the Wall

Off the Record
Photo by John Anderson

Red Eyed Fly owner Heath Macintosh (pictured) calls the view from his club – that of the recently closed Room 710 – a "black eye" on Red River. "It looks like a closed-up, condemned building," says Macintosh, part owner of Dirty Dog Bar, who took over the Fly in 2001. "It's hurt more than I thought it would because it puts off a bad vibe for people as they walk by, like it's over for this area." Given the changes in landscape on Red River since the smoking ban in 2005 and the average lifespan of a local club, this weekend's 10-year anniversary of Red Eyed Fly is no small milestone. After all, there aren't many venues left that support mostly local live music nearly every night of the week. For the occasion, the Fly hosts Saturday's reunion double feature of Dangerous Toys and Soak, Macintosh's onetime major label alt-industrial act with current Disturbed bassist John Moyer (see "Knocking at Your Back Door," August 22, 1997). "We still hit all of our pars on a monthly basis," says Macintosh of bar business, "but it's more erratic than it used to be. It's been a fun interesting run. If you've got great help, you avoid the burnout."

Random Play

• The Chronicle's Austin Music Awards has traditionally lit the torch for the South by Southwest Music Festival on opening night, but starting next year, the annual ceremony takes place on Saturday, serving as the blowout finale for the weeklong mayhem. On that note, this Friday (Sept. 25) is the early bird deadline for potential SXSW showcasers, after which the rate jumps to $40. All submissions are due no later than Nov. 6. Apply online: www.sxsw.com/music/shows/apply.

Alejandro Escovedo's two-chord chain gang Buick MacKane returns to its old stomping grounds at the Hole in the Wall Saturday for a rare one-off performance. "We may not be the best band in the world," drummer Glenn Benavides once told the Chronicle, "but we're the best fucking side project in the world! I can guarantee you that!"

• The Narcisse-Banks Community Resource Center, a local nonprofit dedicated to preserving hip-hop culture, hosts a record fair on Saturday at Kenny Dorham's Backyard, with all proceeds benefiting its Destiny by Design afterschool programs at Kealing and Bedichek middle schools.

• The electronic luminaries of the Octopus Project, currently in the studio, have reissued their first two albums, 2002's Identification Parade and 2005's One Ten Hundred Thousand Million, on vinyl through Peek-a-Boo Records.

New West Records is moving its warehouse inventory from Austin to Athens, Ga., but president Cameron Strang insists that won't diminish the label's local impact since producer Gary Briggs will continue to use the South First office for his work with Austin City Limits, among other things. "This is only a matter of effeciency," says Strang, whose latest signee, Canadian songwriter Corb Lund, lands at Threadgill's World Headquarters on Tuesday.

Gurf Morlix took home Instrumentalist of the Year and Asleep at the Wheel accepted the Lifetime Achievement for Performance award at the Americana Music Association's annual conference in Nashville last weekend. The big news was a surprise performance from John Fogerty, which unfortunately coincided with an Austin-artist showcase thrown by the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We were cursing him, but we also thought it was really cool that he was at the conference drinking Tito's and Sweet Leaf," concedes director of music marketing Rose Reyes, adding later that there's talk of bringing the conference to River City next year. "We still had an incredible response."

• Local spaz-punk pornographers Hug, opening for Japan's Peelander-Z and the Birthday Suits on Friday at Red 7, has hooked up with Austin's Australian Cattle God for its sixth LP and first proper studio album, Cravings, Lust, and Chaos, mastered by Kramer. "We're using fancier keyboards that have better beats," confides guitarist and Chronicle shutterbug John Anderson. "It's pretty crazy stuff."

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