Off the Record
Funk Capital of the World
In this blistering Texas heat, Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater has been the most welcoming reprieve. In just over five months, the $40 million venue has established itself as a marquee attraction, a fact reiterated by a five-night run that began with Explosions in the Sky's triumphant homecoming on Friday and closed with the wrecking-ball grace of Emmylou Harris on Tuesday.
In between, Youssou N'Dour proved an international ambassador Saturday night with an exquisite evening of West African transcendence that peaked with a rousing rendition of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" (see "Live Shots"). Beaming down from the mother ship accompanied by original Parliament keyboardist Bernie Worrell the following night, bass daddy Bootsy Collins– dressed at one point like a rhinestoned Statue of Liberty – affirmed funk as a lifestyle with progressive, softcore jams like "Munchies for Your Love."
The Moody's expanding the brand outside of city limits, having successfully live-streamed Widespread Panic's two-night stand June 14-15. Such is the luxury of a state-of-the-art studio. Explosions cut the new theme song for Austin City Limits' 37th season after their sound check, and Gipsy Kings recorded their recent show for a potential live album.
"The possibilities are limitless," stresses venue general manager Tim Neece.
That became readily apparent on Monday when OTR watched a portion of Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears' ACL taping from the control booth, where longtime director Gary Menotti called shots like an offensive coordinator for the six cameras, including a new aerial view and balcony tract. The hometown soul-shouter rose to the occasion with an arsenic R&B revue that boogied to trucker speeds. The evening's special guests, Dallas gospel outfit the Relatives, lent a heavenly touch, a perfect pairing of profane blues and sacred soul.
There's plenty more to come, too. KLRU's partnered with the Alamo Drafthouse to present Reel Rarities: Handpicked Gems From the ACL Vault, which begins July 25 with Willie Nelson's pilot episode at the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz and benefits the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. And on Wednesday, ACL announced another batch of tapings: Joanna Newsom (Aug. 1), the Decemberists and Gillian Welch (Aug. 9), Jeff Bridges (Aug. 10), Arcade Fire (Sept. 17), and Randy Newman (Sept. 19).
Local belter Nakia advanced to the elite eight on NBC's The Voice Tuesday night, then performed a commanding rendition of Adam Lambert's "Whataya Want From Me" that earned praise on Twitter not only from that former American Idol but also Rachael Ray and Sir Elton John (seriously). After a 12-hour voting period, the final four were set to be announced live as the Chronicle went to press Wednesday. If Nakia made the grade, he'll have one last audition on Tuesday, June 28, before the winner's declared live on the following night's grand finale. "Surrounded by so much talent, being coached by a major superstar like Cee Lo Green [who selects all the material performed] and connecting with fans all over the world," Nakia wrote OTR on Monday, "I've never been better!" Also Tuesday, but closer to home, soul channeler Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys knocked out an RSVP house at the Palm Door with a sweaty set of hot and sultry R&B for the Chronicle's monthly free music series, Paper Cuts. Stay tuned to austinchronicle.com/papercuts for the scoop on the next all-inclusive shindig, and check out next week's Wednesday Rewind for the footage from the A/V specialists at Austin Music Weekly, which just celebrated its 100th posting: austinchronicle.com/thenextepisode.
In the early 1980s, the Chronicle joked about starting a betting pool on when Joe "King" Carrasco (pictured, left) might seriously injure himself considering how fearless a performer he had proven. "Maybe he has cancer," posited Michael Corcoran in a piece excerpted for The Austin Chronicle Music Anthology. "Six months to live so why not?" Carrasco not only emerged intact as one of the most enthralling entertainers of the era, but he did it with his own trademark sound, Nuevo Wavo, a Spanglish romp of 1960s Mex-Tex, early New Wave, and Clifton Chenier's Gulf Coast royalty. "I'm like an old car – all dinged up but still driving," laughs Carrasco in retrospect. "It's going to take a good crash to get me." For the first time in nearly 30 years, Carrasco and the Original Crowns – organist/accordionist/keyboardist Kris Cummings, drummer Mike Navarro, and bass player Brad Kizer – are reuniting for a six-date Texas tour that pulls into Antone's on Saturday, June 25. The return coincides with a reissue of 1979's Tales of the Crypt, the demos collection with first single "Party Weekend" (financed by ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons) and international hit "Buena," which helped push the band onto Saturday Night Live and MTV. Having spent the past decade performing regularly at his Nacho Daddy restaurant in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Carrasco says the time's right for the Crowns' second reign. "I listen to Little Steven's Underground Garage, and the overdriven Vox [organ] is back," Carrasco claims. "We're a little older, but we're back too." On a related note, Corcoran announced via Twitter on Monday that he's accepted a retirement package from the Statesman. He's hosting an informal farewell party Friday, June 24, at Antone's with the Jones Family Singers and the Lee Boys. More on that next week.
Casual Victim Pile alums the Young signed to Matador Records – no surprise given that label co-founder Gerard Cosloy has been, in his words, "stalking the fuck out of them" from the band's earliest Super Secret singles through last year's dank Voyagers of Legend (Mexican Summer). The local quartet's hashing out demos and plans on self-recording their label debut in late August at a cabin in Vanderpool, Texas. "We're looking for something isolated and out of context," says guitarist Hans Zimmerman. "We wanted to change what we're familiar with and see how we adapt to it."
Texas Music Matters' documentary Piece of My Heart: The Story of Janis Joplin took home the Grand Trophy and a gold award at the New York Festivals 2011 International Radio Programs and Promotions Awards on Monday night. Commemorating the achievement, the special will be rebroadcast on KUT (where you can also hear OTR's weekly news segments) Friday, June 24, at noon. The Armadillo Oral History Project also earned a silver award in the History category.
Proposals for PanelPicker, the community-generated panel programming for the 2012 edition of South by Southwest, are being accepted through July 15: panelpicker.sxsw.com.
The Chronicle's Hot Sauce Festival is starting to heat up. One spot on the bill for the summer cookout, Aug. 18 at Waterloo Park, is being reserved for the winner of Sound Wars, the Chronicle's monthlong online song competition. Sign up before the July 8 deadline through the Chronicle's Musicians Register and opt-in on the MR profile page. Further instructions and complete details can be found at austinchronicle.com/soundwars.