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Off the Record

Music News

By Austin Powell, Fri., April 23, 2010

Roky Erickson signing at Waterloo Records on Record Store Day
Roky Erickson signing at Waterloo Records on Record Store Day
Photo by Jana Birchum

Bring Back the Past

"I want people to know we're not fucking around," Will Sheff told OTR in regard to the sympathies between his Okkervil River and Roky Erickson. "We're trying to take something all the way to the conclusion and then past the conclusion. That's always marked Roky's personal and musical life, riding something out to the extreme edge and seeing what lived out there." True Love Cast Out All Evil (see "Please, Judge," April 16) and its corresponding performance at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday, April 24, is by no means the final chapter for Rokkervil. The two local entities are finishing up an appendix EP, The Singing Grandfather. Likewise, Erickson's brief collaboration with Austin's Black Angels on the 13th Floor Elevators' "Roller Coaster" finally sees release in June on UK tribute album The Psychedelic Sounds of the Sonic Cathedral, which features hometown disciples the Strange Attractors alongside My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields and Dead Meadow, among others. There's also a DVD in the works of the Angels backing Erickson for the Halloween ball at L.A.'s El Rey Theatre in 2008. (For an interview with the Angels' Christian Bland about this weekend's Austin Psych Fest 3, scope austinchronicle.com/earache.) Further still, thanks to Paul Drummond, producer of the 'Vators box set, Sign of the 3 Eyed Men (see "Livin' On," Aug. 14, 2009), Erickson has resecured the rights to his first single with the Spades, 1965's "We Sell Soul" b/w "You're Gonna Miss Me," which has been remastered by Stuart Sullivan for a possible 7-inch. Most importantly, there's still plenty of unreleased material left in storage. "Slowly but surely we're getting things in order and getting some rights back, and there are so many artists out there that are fans of Roky," enthuses his manager Darren Hill. "We had about 60 songs to start with, and only 14 were recorded with Okkervil. That leaves 46."

Whole Lotta Rosie

Hell's Belles
Hell's Belles

No. 18 in Rolling Stone's recent "40 Reasons to Get Excited About Music": "Tribute Bands Are Sometimes Better Than the Real Thing." Having garnered a devil-horned salute in 2008 from the eternal schoolboy himself, Angus Young, Austin/Seattle-based AC/DC tribute act Hell's Belles puts a feminine touch to the Aussie's "Bad Boy Boogie." "I'm constantly working towards mastering his playing and some of his signature moves," riffs local Adrian Conner, dreadlocked lead guitarist charged with Young's schoolyard tantrums and duck walk. "Sometimes I try to make moves match the videos for 'You Shook Me' and 'Thunderstruck.'" AC/DC's barroom blitz bleeds over into Conner's Austin combo with Belle's drummer Melodie Zapata, Adrian & the Sickness, which upped the ante with last year's Kathy Valentine-produced B.F.D. The two pull double duty Saturday night at the Continental Club, where the Belles kick off a national tour marking the group's 10-year anniversary. "Part of the fun is that combination of the physical and the technical," says Conner. "I like seeing how far I can take it, how fast I can run across the stage, or how high I can jump."

One Foot in the Ether

The Band of Heathens dries up Old Settler's.
The Band of Heathens dries up Old Settler's.
Photo by Austin Powell

Wet weather couldn't dampen the Old Settler's Music Festival at the Salt Lick Pavilion/Camp Ben McCulloch, where not even a lack of electricity stopped the Band of Heathens from delivering the weekend's defining set. The local roots outfit literally unplugged in the rain for a spirited rendition of Townes Van Zandt's "Two Hands," wrought with vocal harmony normally reserved for kinfolk. Then, as if on cue, the skies finally cleared during a chilling rendition of Leon Everette's "Hurricane." "We lost one fiddle workshop, but other than that I'd say we were pretty lucky," chimes Old Settler's Executive Director Jean Spivey. "We must have the best audience and crew in the world. They really hung in there."

Random Play

After receiving an ace assist at the 2008 Austin City Limits Music Festival, Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij returns the favor for the Tosca String Quartet's annual Golden Hornet Project-commissioned revue at the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz on Monday, April 26, as part of the weeklong Fusebox Festival. "I have a strange relationship with that whole realm of contemporary classical music," relays Batmanglij, who's performing three new compositions for the occasion (see Chronicle Music blog, "Giving Up the Gun," at austinchronicle.com/earache). "It's something that I feel very disconnected from, but at the same time there's a kind of magic that can happen when you write for strings and hear the parts interacting with each other."

Cruiserweight
Cruiserweight

Faced with the looming departure of bassist Dave Hawkins for school in Arizona, Cruiserweight is throwing in the towel at Emo's on Saturday night, April 24. Ironically, the show also commemorates the release of The Smith Tower, the local quartet's strongest collection of taut power pop to date and whose first 1,000 copies include a live DVD from 2008. "It's bittersweet for us," relays guitarist Urny Maxwell, adding he may continue to work with his sister/singer Stella. "We're going to play a whole lot of old stuff that we haven't played in a long time."

The long-retired Seaholm Power Plant has become an unexpectedly popular destination for afterparties and one-off performances, like the Donnas' skintight runway rock this Saturday, April 24, thanks to its price tag: $500 per day. That's courtesy of a city ordinance passed in 2008, promoting the 1,200-capacity facility's use for entertainment purposes – even if renters have to supply their own power and Porta Potties. "Interest in the facility has been snowballing," adds Lauraine Rizer of the city's Real Estate Services Division. "It's been hard to keep up."

Who's on first? Reckless Kelly (see "Red, White, and Reckless," July 4, 2008) bats cleanup at the Dell Diamond on Sunday, April 25, for the local Americana act's second annual Celebrity Softball Jam, featuring Dale Watson, Micky & the Motorcars, and the Trishas, among others. See "Reckless Kelly Celebrity Softball Jam," Sports, for more game-day stats.

Iceland's volcanic ash prevented Austin's Dixie Witch from traveling to Holland's headbanger's ball Roadburn Festival last weekend, and now Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears are stranded in France. "We've been in Paris since Monday," relayed guitarist Zach Ernst via e-mail. "We have a return flight booked for 4/27, but if this second volcano goes off, we might be here a lot longer."

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