Off the Record
The New Way
From Sara Hickman's Texas Music Project to Shearwater's dossier for The Golden Archipelago (see "The Empire That Dreams of Us," Feb. 26), Kickstarter has helped fund some of Austin's most ambitious endeavors this year. The DIY "crowdfunding" platform allows acts to reach out to their audiences directly for financial support, offering incremental pledge packages akin to an old-fashioned telethon, with the catch that fans are only charged if/when the artist's goal is reached. Kickstarter's also responsible for new albums by Dana Falconberry, Michael Fracasso, Zlam Dunk, Charlie Faye, Soul Track Mind, and the Lost Pines, among others, but no one's been as successful locally as Fastball guitarist Miles Zuniga, who raised more than $20,000 in 10 days for his solo project, These Ghosts Have Bones. "I don't have a secret," chuckles Zuniga, whose fundraising perks included credit as executive producer, a two-hour songwriting session, and personalized cover songs uploaded to YouTube. "I was as surprised as you are." His solo debut is tentatively scheduled for the spring and features contributions from Kat Edmonson, Bruce Hughes, and the Band of Heathens' John Chipman. "Things have changed pretty drastically in my life," reflects Zuniga. "I went through a divorce and stuff. The universe seems to be saying it's time to go on your own for a while and figure out what that means."
Start Me Up
Five Ongoing Kickstarter Campaigns:
Golden Bear, third LP, Alive
Best buy: four guitar lessons ($400)
The Bellfuries, expanded reissue of 2001's Just Plain Lonesome
Best buy: two songs recorded exclusively for you, T-shirt, advance signed copy ($150) www.kck.st/fvY5xZ
The Preservation, untitled debut
Best buy: copy of vinyl LP ($25)
Michael Nance, frat-folk debut
Best buy: a singing phone call on your birthday and a copy of the album ($25)
The Eastern Sea, debut LP, Plague
Best buy: handmade doodle inspired by TES song of your choosing and a copy of the album ($50) www.kck.st/f8Oe3y
Some of Shelly's Blues
In the 1990s, when most veteran acts still considered the Internet science fiction, Michael Nesmith began developing Videoranch, a simulated realm for avatars and rock stars alike. On Saturday afternoon, the Monkees icon (see "Monkee Dues," Nov. 15, 1996) stepped into his creation, delighting an intimate local audience (and an enthusiastic virtual one) at Austin Film Studios for a hourlong acoustic set as part of his Global Zone Music Festival. Sporting a 12-string, polarized glasses, and a blue scarf ("In honor of those that have snow for Christmas"), Nesmith, 68 on Dec. 30, opened with one of his earliest classics, "Papa Gene's Blues," and then proceeded to hit all points between that and the title track to his most recent album, 2006's Rays. His seminal 1970s country-rock outfit the First National Band was well represented ("Calico Girlfriend," "Joanne," "Silver Moon"), but his standard "Some of Shelly's Blues" and lilting closer "Harmony Constant" begged for the technological innovator to assemble a band and play out again. South by Southwest 2011 would be ideal.
Ring the Bells
It's that time of year again: Critics are making their lists and checking them twice – and decorating with Bun B's A Trill Christmas Story box set of crunk wooden ornaments. OTR compiled a list of new, alternative winterlong classics to help get you in the mood for the holidaze:
Hayes Carll, "Grateful for Christmas"
The local troubadour recounts a typically dysfunctional family gathering, like a Texas version of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Available digitally and on his forthcoming Lost Highway sophomore effort, KMAG YOYO.
The Soulphonics, "All I Want for Christmas Is a Job"
A timely, Great Recession ditty with 1960s garage-pop sparkle might strike a little too close to home for proper enjoyment.
Girl in a Coma, "Blue Christmas"
The San Antonio punk trio continues its covers streak with a country rendition of this Elvis Presley-popularized tune, available on the label sampler A Blackheart Christmas.
Leatherbag, "Jesus Christ"
The standout from Superpop Records' Season's Greetings compilation – it's not the Big Star cover you'd expect, but delivers a similar power-pop jingle, immediately offset by the Tex-Mex of the Archibalds' "Este No Es Una Buena Navidad." Inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jesse Dayton, "Christmas in Jail" A politically incorrect remake of an old 1950s doo-wop song that, Dayton says, "sounds like something that Dean Martin would do." Available as a bonus track to the outlaw's latest, One for the Dance Halls. www.jessedayton.com.
Watch Out for Rockets, "All I Want for Xmas Is the Criss Angel Platinum Magic
Kit With Over 250 Magic Tricks"
The title says it all, but that's merely one of the gems from the local lo-fi pop outfit's 13 Days of Xmas series. Download the rest at www.watchoutforrockets.bandcamp.com.
South by Southwest Roulette
The 2011 South by Southwest Music Festival is expanding to include about 10 showcases on Tuesday night. "With increasing interaction between the Interactive and Film conferences, we've been getting more and more requests from acts and music business affiliates to expand," relays Creative Director Brent Grulke. The total number of showcasing acts is expected to stay fairly consistent with previous years at about 1,800. While the addition of the new Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater would seemingly add to SXSW's occasional difficulties filling larger venues, Grulke insists that's not the case. "We already have a good head start on that."
As part of SXSW, the sixth annual mtvU Woodie Awards, the collegiate counter to the MTV Video Music Awards, will broadcast live on both Viacom stations from the Austin Music Hall on March 16. Last year's big winners, voted exclusively by students, included Green Day, Kings of Leon, and Matt & Kim.
The latest SXSW list, released on Monday, includes UK buzz band the Vaccines, guitar hero J Mascis, slacker-rap duo Das Racist, London dubstep collagist James Blake, and the Baseball Project (lending weight to the possible return of R.E.M.). Full list at www.sxsw.com/music.
The most curious addition to SXSW Music thus far is Gary Wilson. The reclusive, proto-New Wave balladeer has made a few public appearances in support of his funktastic new LP, Electric Endicott, most notably on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, but he's in need of a backing band. Interested parties should contact email@example.com.