Off the Record
Hot Off the Presses
For the first time since the birth of South by Southwest, the results of the Chronicle Music Poll will not be published in the SXSW Music Issue but instead will be unveiled live at the Austin Music Awards themselves, slated for the Austin Music Hall on Saturday, March 19. You'll have to wade through a stacked bill to take them all in, too: the reunited Wagoneers, who are already getting big concert paydays waved at them without even having played a note; a reunion of Texas psych pioneers Bubble Puppy; Sahara Smith & Will Sexton; Bright Light Social Hour; new-millennial AMAs godfather Roky Erickson with the Meat Puppets (readying the release of their third album since the return of Cris Kirkwood); and big-band closers Mother Falcon. A list of the winners will go online that same night, with printed results following in the SXSW wrap-up issue. On a similar note, OTR is tremendously pleased to announce initial confirmations for the release party for The Austin Chronicle Music Anthology, a 30-year retrospective published by the University of Texas Press with a foreword by Daniel Johnston. Doubling as a benefit for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, it takes place at Antone's on Wednesday, March 9, and features Raul's original heavy rollers the Skunks, modern grit-blues purveyors the Crack Pipes, and Austin's incomparable Gourds, which just signed with Vanguard Records for their new Larry Campbell-produced album – much more on all fronts next week. Tune in to Texas Music Matters on KUT this Friday for a detailed preview, and stop by Jon Dee Graham's Sunday residency at the Continental Club Gallery, where the art exhibit "Colorful Women" by fellow Skunk Jesse Sublett hangs until Wednesday, March 2. For more, see www.facebook.com/AustinChronicleMusicAnthology.
Golden Death Chant
Morgan Sorne likens the intrigue of his debut album, House of Stone, to that of ancient ruins. "You know there's some story, a literal narrative you can kind of piece together, but it's really left up to the individual to figure out," says the 27-year-old Florida transplant who goes by his last name on the disc (see "Texas Platters"). More than four years in the making, House of Stone is a conceptual, wide-screen epic about five siblings under siege in the wake of their father's death. Layering handmade percussion instruments and countless vocal takes in a manner that recalls Bjork's Medúlla or the tribal folklore of Akron/Family, the one-man drama is the first of five Sorne has planned, each telling a different side of the story. All serve as the soundtrack to his artwork, a collection of haunting, life-size wood cutouts that depict the various characters in highly stylized, indigenous garb. "It's very difficult for me to separate the music from the art," relates Sorne, who draws inspiration from Japanese collective Geinoh Yamashirogumi and Robert Farris Thompson's Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy. "I want this to be an ongoing history that people can be a part of." Sorne comes alive at the 6th & Waller First FAM Weekend on Saturday, 9:30pm.
Less than six months after headlining the 2010 Austin City Limits Music Festival, the Strokes confirmed this week via Twitter a return engagement at South by Southwest, where the band blitzed the Iron Cactus in 2001. The NYC outfit anchors a free outdoor bill at Auditorium Shores on Thursday, March 17, previewing its highly anticipated fourth album, Angles. Other additions might include Wu-Tang Clan, who have landed on the hip-hop summit at the Austin Music Hall with Yelawolf and SoCal punks Fishbone, the subject of the documentary Everyday Sunshine, which screens during SXSW. Such confirmations dominate headlines, of course, but the real story of SXSW continues to take place on an increasingly global stage. The Festival's on track to set a new record for international artists, up from 549 acts last year to 637 as of Tuesday afternoon, with a flurry of accompanying showcases. Though the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30 and Japan Nite (Friday, March 18, Elysium) set the gold standard for continental goodwill, this year Copa hosts world music; Easy Tiger splits a showcase between visitors from South Korea and Israel on Wednesday, March 16; Spain's Primavera Sound hosts two nights at Nuvola; and Billboard en Español hits Prague on Friday, March 18. Friends' annual Dublin, Ireland, mudslide hits on St. Patrick's Day. And that's only the tip of the iceberg. Just Googling the first act on the SXSW list, Paris' AaRON, reveals an indie-pop romantic with a cinematic scope. "We're seeing an increased presence from Asia, particularly South Korea, and a real, continued expansion in Central and South American acts," reports SXSW Creative Director Brent Grulke. Part of a new SXSW partnership, Britain's esteemed newspaper The Guardian will be handicapping UK favorites this year for the Chronicle.
The Difference Engine
Accolades are rolling in for Graham Reynolds' new double whammy, The Difference Engine and Duke! Three Portraits of Ellington (see "Texas Platters," Feb. 11). The prolific local composer performed the former's triple concerto Feb. 15 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., backed by the Low End String Quartet, while the latter was the focus of a Weekend Edition interview last Sunday on National Public Radio (ww.j.mp/fNLCsc). Both projects will get their dues at SXSW, where Reynolds is scheduled to share a nonclassical showcase with remix collaborator Gabriel Prokofiev – Sergei's grandson – at the Velveeta Room on Friday, March 18, and stage Duke the following night at the Elephant Room. True to form, Reynolds has moved on to a third collaboration with Ballet Austin, as well as the soundtrack to Richard Linklater's latest, Bernie, based on a magnetic funeral-home director once featured in Texas Monthly and starring Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine. "Jack's character sings, so he and I worked together on his songs, and I accompanied him on piano and organ," relays Reynolds, who opens for Mother Falcon at Central Presbyterian Church Saturday, Feb. 26. "Now I'm working on the score, much of which is derived from old hymns. So far it's been half country music – working with Dale Watson, Redd Volkaert, and other fantastic country musicians – and half string quartet."
The Do512 Lounge feels like a Las Vegas public-access television program with its crushed-velvet-lined walls, neon signage, and a disco ball overhead. Despite the low-budget setup, the local entertainment website's new Lounge Sessions series is producing high-quality video content from marquee local acts, thanks in no small part to the audio/video specialists of Austin Music Weekly. In only its third event at the 50-capacity facility, Do512 recently hosted a marathon taping that featured the sharp bite of James McMurtry, Monahans' flatlands revelations, and Chronicle cover boys the Bright Light Social Hour, all of which has already been edited and posted online. "It started about eight weeks ago when I was trying to figure out what to do with this extra office space we had taken over," says Do512 co-founder Jimmy Stewart. "It's like having a band play in your living room." Check out those aforementioned sessions along with samples of the Black Angels and Saints of Valory on Wednesday Rewind at austinchronicle.com/earache.