Off the Record
Forsaking the Song, Part 16
"Being financially self-sustaining will be the easy part for KUT with their outreach," Griff Luneburg told the Chronicle last month in regard to the future viability of the Cactus Cafe. "The hardest part is finding somebody that's going to work six nights, 60 hours a week, someone that has that level of dedication. The Cactus is a community."
On Wednesday afternoon, KUT announced it had found that person: Matthew Muñoz. An unknown entity in the Cactusgate saga, the local began his career in Austin with Arista Records before working in Los Angeles with Universal Music Group's Fontana Distribution and Warner Bros. More recently, he served as the director of sales and marketing at Houston's Justice Records, which folded earlier this year.
"What Matt brings to the table is ideas and experience that will allow us to move forward in all these areas where we can not only spread the word about the Cactus but put [KUT] in a position to help make it sustainable with all of the new technology," said the station's associate general manager, Hawk Mendenhall.
Beginning on Monday, Muñoz will be responsible for developing not only year-round programming but also a sustainable business model (see "New Captain of the Cactus," News) and student internship programs for production and promotion. Keeping the venue's "quality intact" will be imperative, says Muñoz, but so is "bringing it into the 21st century as far as the marketing and everything else that goes around being competitive."
According to Mendenhall, 119 people applied for the position (his favorite: "the person that said they had 6,000 songs on their iPod"). The search was narrowed to five finalists that included former Texas Performing Arts Assistant Director Cameron Smith, Texas Music Hall of Famer Paul Minor, and Luneburg, who ran the 150-capacity venue for the last three decades. He will remain on hand at least until Dec. 15 to assist with the transition.
"With the new vision, anything is possible," Luneburg said in August. "Anyone with any sense at all can figure it out."
On the Download
The city's official calling card as the "live music capital of the world" lures roughly 1.4 million visitors annually to www.austintexas.org, the tourist-friendly website hosted by the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau. Last week, the site added a music platform that allows local bands to capitalize on that traffic. In partnership with DoubleStereo, a local offshoot of music and merchandise fulfillment company cdFuse.com, artists ranging from Asleep at the Wheel and White Ghost Shivers to Maneja Beto and Tee Double have created custom pages with embedded music/video players, Twitter feeds, and merchandise available for purchase. "It's going to be a really cool way for people to get a taste of what Austin has to offer," enthuses DoubleStereo co-founder Sal Silva. Enrollment is free and ongoing.
Listen closely to the jukebox playing at the Ugly Beaver in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. "Right when our song ends, Journey comes on," chuckles Kevin Hoetger, leader of local mod squad English Teeth and corresponding publishing company Set the Control. It doesn't sound like much – a few barely audible seconds of honky-tonk – but it marked the beginning of a strong relationship with Gary Sanchez Productions, founded by funnyman Will Ferrell and former Saturday Night Live writer Adam McKay. With English Teeth keyboardist/producer Kyle Crusham, Hoetger has composed music as Set the Control for big-screen fare Step Brothers and The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, scored Comedy Central's new series Big Lake, and landed English Teeth's "Invasion" in current cineplex hijinks The Virginity Hit. "It all kind of falls under Set the Control; English Teeth happens to be the fun drunk part," admits Hoetger. The Britpop peddlers recently released a new single and storm the Beauty Bar on Oct. 1.
Trapped in the Closet
Don't judge dark comedy All American Orgy by its cover. "The company that bought it made it look like American Pie, which is fine by me," laughs Ted Beck, better known as local shock rapper Black Nasty, who wrote and stars in the film. "I just don't think [people] are going to be too pleased with the psycho-drama that follows." Originally titled Cummings Farm, the indie flick, which hits DVD on Oct. 5, follows three couples' retreat to a cottage in New Orleans with hopes of spicing up their respective relationships. "The orgy goes awry, obviously," says Beck, who plays a "sleazy A&R man" married to Sarah Silverman's sister. "It would just be a porno if it went according to plan." In addition to an appearance at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2010, Black Nasty is following up last year's Shark Tank (available for free download at www.blacknasty.net) with a 2-EP set, split between party songs and narrative sketches. "Like Use Your Illusion, but much shorter," offers Beck, whose sister, Pink Nasty, just released a self-titled LP. "Then I'm going to retire. It's not looking as funny as it used to."
The Wind's Dominion
Don't be surprised when the soundtrack to Austin-bred low-budget comedy Baghdad Texas starts to garner Grammy buzz. A dusty assortment of West Texas mysticism, Middle Eastern charm, and Tex-Mex instrumentals, as based on the backgrounds of the film's three main characters, the album was quietly released last fall for award eligibility. Longtime local drummer and producer Booka Michel served as the film's and its corresponding soundtrack's musical director and leads the Flaming Geckos – John X. Reed, Cindy Cashdollar, and Glenn Fukanaga – plus guests Ralph White and Ray Benson, who tackles Jimmie Rodgers' "Pistol Packin' Papa." "Everybody just dug right in and contributed immensely to the project," relays Michel, who also co-produced the film, his fourth, with wife Edythe Michel. Baghdad Texas screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May and just ended a weeklong run at Quad Cinema in New York.
Balmorhea recently learned from its Netherlands-based collaborator Machinefabriek that its epic "Bowsprit" from this year's Constellations is being used as the theme song for the Dutch version of police procedural drama Cold Case. "We wouldn't have had a clue otherwise," relays multi-instrumentalist Michael Muller. The local instrumentalists, who headline at Mohawk on Sept. 15, also scored Texas A&M's new advertising campaign and a 7-inch for Austin's Western Vinyl, due later this month.
Austin's metal godfather Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys, Broken Teeth) is getting a star on the South Texas Music Walk of Fame in his hometown of Corpus Christi.
Vallejo has settled its suit with Houston's BCD Music Group, distributor of the band's 2008 album Thicker Than Water. While terms of the agreement were not disclosed, the band's lawyer, Craig Barker, says, "We're pleased with the outcome."
Former Room 710 co-owner Woody Wiedeman has taken over booking duties at the Beale Street Tavern (214-B E. Sixth). The Elvis-themed restaurant offers live music every night with no cover to help wash down fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches. Interested bands should contact Wiedeman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, former Butthole Surfers manager Tom Bunch, a 25-year industry veteran, has been tapped as the new talent buyer for Bass Concert Hall.