Off the Record
Austin Music Awards, Part 1
"Better two years too soon than five minutes too late." That's how Monte Warden justifies the Wagoneers' early exit in 1990. "We were 10 years after the outlaw movement and 10 years before Americana had a name." The Wagoneers still left their mark with an Austin City Limits appearance and two locally beloved albums for A&M Records that ushered in classic country for a new generation. For the first time in two decades, the local C&W outfit's original lineup – guitarist Brent Wilson, bassist Craig Pettigrew, and Heybale! drummer Tom Lewis – is reuniting for the 2010-11 Austin Music Awards at the Austin Music Hall, which closes down South by Southwest 2011 on Saturday, March 19. While the gig's being approached as a one-time-only affair, Warden did express interest in reissuing the band's long-out-of-print catalog. "The challenge is to be as good as people remember," cracks Warden (see "With a Bullet," April 2, 2004). "That, and fitting into our original suits." Also confirmed for the annual gala is Wimberley songstress Sahara Smith, capping off a banner year behind her acclaimed debut, Myth of the Heart. Tony "Ham" Guerrero, meanwhile, founder of AMA Hall of Fame nominee Tortilla Factory (see "Urban Tejano," Dec. 24, 2010), suffered congestive heart failure on Jan. 10, and has been in a coma since Monday. A tribute is planned at the H&H Ballroom with Ruben Ramos, Johnny Hernandez and the rest of Tortilla Factory on Sunday, Jan. 30. The clock's also still ticking for the Austin Music Poll Ballot. Visit austinchronicle.com/musicpoll.
Raised by Wolves
OTR found out about the new solo project from Voxtrot's Ramesh Srivastava under the strangest of circumstances: a post on Austin Sound pointing out that the splash page for the singer's new website (www.rameshalwayswins.com) lists the name of yours truly directly above a line of potential lyrics, "We two boys together clinging." "Interesting coincidence," explains Srivastava. "I had not noticed it when I took the screen shot. I must have scrawled it down as a note last time we were doing an interview." Longtime fans will be thrilled to hear that the songsmith's EP 1, streaming on the site, picks up right where his former indie-pop outfit's last extended play, 2006's Your Biggest Fan, left off, and more material's coming next month. "I plan on going as full force with this as I did with Voxtrot."
Imagine experiencing Free Week from the comfort of a desktop computer. That's essentially the idea behind Austin Music Weekly, a new website devoted exclusively to capturing the local music scene live. Since officially launching on Thanksgiving Day, AMW has posted more than 50 shows from 40 Cap City acts – roughly three per week – ranging from the Coveters at the Continental Club to White Denim's New Year's Eve bash at Emo's, the latter on par with the steamrolling quartet's footage on Nigel Godrich's From the Basement series. While other sites have tried a similar concept, two things make AMW unique: the quality of the footage – two videographers at each show and 24-bit audio helmed by 5th Street Studios – and its business model, with bands receiving 50% of profits derived from any advertising and/or sponsorships. In phase two of the site, patrons will be able to download the live audio for free. "Everything on the site is approved by the artists," says co-founder Luke Borders. "No matter the work we put into the content, if a band isn't happy with the final product, then poof – it's gone." OTR will showcase a different performance each week on Wednesday Rewind (austinchronicle.com/thenextepisode). Look for upcoming sessions with Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Grupo Fantasma, the Monahans, Zeale, and the Sword. Bands interested in being filmed, contact email@example.com.
The title of Recover's 2004 major label debut, This May Be the Year I Disappear, proved painfully prophetic. "It's kind of a long, shitty story," bemoans singer Dan Keyes. To recap, the band's record company, Strummer – distributed by Universal – went bankrupt just as the local hardcore-pop outfit was burning itself out on the road after years of relentless touring (see "The Goose & the Gander," Jan. 21, 2005). Keyes moved to New York, releasing two albums for Island Def Jam as Young Love (what he calls "Lower East Side dance music") and ghostwriting for marquee pop acts. Likewise, guitarist/vocalist Robert Mann packed his bags and went solo while bassist Ross Tweedy and drummer Santiago Vela III kept time in Austin's Tow the Line. After a few one-off shows together, most recently a last-minute gig at United States Arts Authority in late December, Recover's gearing up for an official reunion. Keyes says the band's "one session away" from completing a new album. Until then, there's Challenger, an odds-and-sods compilation being digitally released Tuesday, Jan. 25, and on vinyl this spring, featuring material from the Disappear sessions and two new songs that not only sound surprisingly contemporary but perfectly encapsulate Recover's trademark Friday night bloodletting. "We built something from the ground floors we were sleeping on, where our fans were having their girlfriends and moms actually cook us breakfast, up to where we're selling out shows," relates Keyes. "It created something really special. We're not going to sell 100,000 copies, but we do have this die-hard fan base that's going to continue to come to our shows and check out the music." Read the full interview with Keyes at austinchronicle.com/earache.
Last week on The Colbert Report, the Black Keys faced Vampire Weekend in "Sellout-Off," a mock-battle of the two bands' various ad campaigns. The Black Angels could hold their own in such a contest. Phosphene Dream highlight "Entrance Song" currently brands a Target commercial for Justin Timberlake's denim fashion line, William Rast. "We've actually seen a pretty good boast in sales," admits singer Alex Maas. The local psych outfit has also been commissioned to cover the Zombies' classic "She's Not There" for the HBO series True Blood.
Reckless Kelly's returning to its mid-1990s stomping grounds, Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant. Sort of. The former Sixth Street hangout is reopening at what used to be Joe's Bar & Grill (506 West Ave.), with original owners Bruce and Susan Rampick in tow. The Red Dirt stalwarts are unplugging for a free acoustic set there on Friday, Jan. 21, 9pm.
Hayes Carll hits The Tonight Show With Jay Leno on Friday, Jan. 21, performing the title track from his highly anticipated new album, KMAG YOYO, due Feb. 15.
In what's becoming standard operating procedure when within a 60-mile radius of one another, Bruce Springsteen joined Alejandro Escovedo last week for an acoustic version of "Always a Friend" at the annual Light of Day benefit at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, N.J.
Booker Timmy Hefner dropped the initial bombshell for Chaos in Tejas on Monday. The annual four-day hangover features the usual roulette of Japanese punks (Kriegshög, D-Clone), rare reunions (F.Y.P, Youth of Today), and contemporary bashers (Fucked Up, Reigning Sound, the Marked Men), but branches out further with NOLA bouncer Katey Red and early morning stoner Curren$y. View the full lineup at austinchronicle.com/earache.