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Off the Record

Music News

By Austin Powell, Fri., April 29, 2011

Cold Sun
Cold Sun
Photo by John Anderson

Dark Shadows

The Black Angels started Austin Psych Fest to link the original psychedelic awakening of the late 1960s to its modern resurgence. The connection crystallizes this weekend with the band's most ambitious outing to date: a three-day reverb holiday at the Seaholm Power Plant that promises 58 bands across two stages, including marquee headliners (Omar Rodriguez Lopez, Spectrum, Prefuse 73), promising newcomers (the Fresh & Onlys, No Joy, White Hills), and coming full circle on Sunday, local pioneers of the genre Roky Erickson and Cold Sun.

The latter act cut only one record, 1970's Dark Shadows, a twisted peyote raga of mystical revelations and Egyptian mythology that was shelved after negotiations fell through with Columbia Records. They then backed Erickson, first as Bleib Alien – heard on 1975's "Starry Eyes" b/w "Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog)" – then as the Aliens, the legendary crew on 1981's The Evil One. A limited-edition release of Dark Shadows by Dallas' Rockadelic Records in 1989 led to a proper reissue two decades later by Germany's World in Sound, the liner notes of which feature Jello Biafra heralding the LP as "the best psychedelic album I know of."

"People over the years convinced me that it was ahead of its time, so in a way I don't think of it as something from the past," reasons leader and electric Autoharp spellbinder Bill Miller. "Maybe it was just something from another world."

Cold Sun's reunion – original guitarist Tom McGarrigle and bassist Mike Waugh with Blood Drained Cows drummer Tom Trusnovic and musical director Jasper Leach – at Psych Fest marks the band's first performance in close to 40 years and prefaces the release of a new album, Rites of Osiris.

"What Roky did with [True Love Cast Out All Evil] is really amazing and unprecedented," says Miller. "What would be even more amazing is for an entire band to do that. That's why we're so excited about Psych Fest. We'd fit right in with what's happening right now."

Seek out a copy of Dark Shadows this weekend at the Austin Record Convention at the North Austin Event Center (10601 N. Lamar). Early bird admittance ($25) begins on Friday and carries through the rest of the weekend, with $5 general admission covering Saturday (10am-6pm) and Sunday (10am-5pm).

Festival Fever

On Tuesday, C3 Presents announced the 20th anniversary lineup for Lollapalooza at Chicago's Grant Park, Aug. 5-7, featuring Rolodex headliners Foo Fighters, Coldplay, and Eminem alongside a local contingent including Explosions in the Sky, Ruby Jane, Electric Touch, and DJ Mel. As for the 2011 Austin City Limits Music Festival, there's some promising possible crossover – Big Audio Dynamite, the Cars, Death From Above 1979 – but that bill drops May 17.

Southwestern University hosts Clusterfest on Friday at the Corbin J. Robertson Center. The stacked indie bill pits Matt & Kim, Del the Funky Homosapien, and Mexican Institute of Sound against local favorites the Octopus Project, the Bright Light Social Hour, and the Black & White Years.

Cumbia kingpin Celso Piña (see "Cumbia Sobre El Rio," Oct. 18, 2002) has been added to the fourth annual Pachanga Latino Music Festival at Fiesta Gardens on May 21, along with Toy Selectah, Rian C, and perennial draw Mariachi las Alteñas.

After a successful debut last fall, the Texas edition of the Nocturnal Festival returns to Apache Pass in Rockdale, about 90 minutes northeast of Austin. This weekend's desert rave promises some of the biggest names in electronic music, including Bassnectar, STS9, Ghostland Observatory, and Crystal Castles, along with bounce queen Big Freedia. Complete details at www.nocturnalfestival.com.

It's official: Fun Fun Fun Fest is moving to Auditorium Shores, Nov. 5-6.

Golden Gloves

Like Thirsty Thursday or Fireworks Friday, Reckless Kelly's Celebrity Softball Jam has become a time-honored tradition at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock. This Sunday's third annual home run derby laces up sports heroes (Jesse James Leija, Quan Cosby) and all-star performers (Hayes Carll, Ray Benson), concluding with a two-stage concert in center field. Doors open at noon for the Reckless Recycling Program, a donation drive of baseball-related sporting goods. Reckless Kelly's Braun brothers provided this scouting report of their respective franchise players. View the full account at austinchronicle.com/earache.

Sultans of Swing

Ray Benson, Asleep at the Wheel

"A bulldog at the bag and a monster at the plate."

Randy Rogers, Red Dirt wrangler

"Not the fastest guy on the roster, but what an arm!"

Greg Swindell, pitcher

"Seventeen-year major leaguer, one-time all-star, and World Series champion." – Cody Braun

One-Hit Wonders 

Glenn Wilson, former MLB All-Star

"As an outfielder, Wilson was unmatched; his legendary arm led him to lead the national league in assists in both 1985 and '86."

Andy Langer, KGSR

"Don't let the sport coat fool you. His two-run homer in the first inning of last year's CSJ set the bar."

George Devore, songwriter

"Widely considered the 'bad boy of softball,' Devore brings his flamboyant onstage attitude to the ballpark." – Willy Braun

Huey P. Meaux (1929-2011)

Meaux (l) and Doug Sahm at the 1989 Austin Music Awards
Meaux (l) and Doug Sahm at the 1989 Austin Music Awards
Photo by Martha Grenon

Known as the "Crazy Cajun," Huey P. Meaux died Saturday, April 23, of multiple organ failure at his home in Winnie, Texas, leaving behind a complicated legacy of extreme highs and lows. The owner of Houston's influential SugarHill Studios and the first South by Southwest keynote speaker, Meaux pioneered the Gulf Coast's "swamp pop" sound in the 1950s, producing regional hits by the likes of Barbara Lynn ("You'll Lose a Good Thing") and Joe Barry ("I'm a Fool To Care"), while working with everyone from Lightnin' Hopkins and Archie Bell to Roy Head. He's best remembered for concocting Texas' answer to the British Invasion, the Sir Douglas Quintet, and spearheading Freddy Fender's comeback with the 1974 crossover success of "Before the Last Teardrop Falls" as well as "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights." His career was irrevocably tarnished in 1996 when police raided his studio and found hundreds of Polaroids of a sexual nature. Meaux pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault with a child among other charges, including child pornography, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released in 2007. "If you can separate the music from his transgressions, [Huey's] one of those guys they don't make anymore," relates Shandon Sahm. "He had a hustle to him, and a hit-record mentality. He knew what was up before it happened and really went after it." Services will be held at Broussard's Mortuary in Winnie on Saturday, April 30, at 2pm.

Random Play

Retiring the Island Arc trilogy for Matador Records with a heroic evening at Central Presbyterian Church in January – selections of which are now available online – Shearwater has taken flight to another indie heavyweight, Sub Pop. The local art-rock ensemble hits the studio next week with local producer Danny Reisch. "No birds, no islands, I promise," laughs principal Jonathan Meiburg.

OTR will serve as a guest judge with Adrian Quesada and Redd Volkaert for the fourth annual Corporate Battle of the Bands at Antone's tonight (Thursday, April 28). The Health Alliance for Austin Musicians benefit also features a silent auction and aftershow with the Black & White Years. Doors open at 6pm.

At the first official show for Randall Stockton's Legendary White Swan Lounge (1906 E. 12th), this Friday, April 29, the Golden Boys and the Crack Pipes host a benefit for Danny's Bar-B-Que, which recently had its generator stolen. "I go there twice a month to get ribs after work," wrote the Golden Boys' John Wesley Coleman. "The dude is having bad luck."

Local teen sensation Schmillion scored an opening slot on Arcade Fire's Texas dates, including Tuesday's sold-out appearance at the Backyard. Guitarist Zoe Graham and drummer Sienna Blaw starred in Spike Jonze's short film "Scenes From the Suburbs" and apparently turned Will Butler's head with a performance at the film's post-SXSW party.

Fourteen local pianists, including Nick Connolly, Matt Hubbard, and Meagan Tubb, will pay final respects to the late Pinetop Perkins (see "Last of the Delta Bluesmen," April 22) as part of the closing ceremony for the Art Alliance Austin interactive installation "Play Me, I'm Yours" on Sunday, May 1, 7pm. Find a complete map of piano locations at www.playmeaustin.com.

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