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Off the Record

Music News

By Austin Powell, Fri., July 29, 2011

Dale Watson (with a nod to photographer Jim Marshall and Johnny Cash at San Quentin Prison)
Dale Watson (with a nod to photographer Jim Marshall and Johnny Cash at San Quentin Prison)
Photo by John Anderson

Walking the Line

"If social media can topple a government," posits Dale Watson, "it can cave in an airline." The local country maverick took to YouTube recently with "Tiger Airways" about his struggles with the Singaporean discount airline. Back in April, the company lost a box of CDs that Watson imported from Europe for a gig in Australia at the Byron Bay Bluesfest, then refused to reimburse him for both the lost music and the $500 excess baggage fee for the discs. The video has already logged more than 17,000 views, caught the attention of the Huffington Post, and led to Watson performing for Fox News in New York on Monday, rebroadcast through its Australian affiliates. "The power of a song has really surprised me," reflects Watson, who's since been compensated for the damages. The controversy hasn't slowed down Watson either. He's just released a travel guide for musicians called Road Warriors' Guide to Roommate Etiquette and a Zalman King-directed documentary, Crazy Again, both available on Amazon. Austin's Man in Black is scheduled to cut a new album at Willie Nelson's Pedernales Recording Studio, and he recently wrapped sessions at Memphis, Tenn.'s legendary Sun Studio in a style – stand-up bass, acoustic guitar, and snare drums – he's coined the "Texas Two." "That studio still has that sound and vibe," enthuses Watson, who holds down the Continental Club on Monday nights. "You get that feeling; it's just electric in there."

Chadd-a-Palooza

Uncle Billy's Brew & Que on Lake Travis (6550 Comanche Trail) continues this weekend with the second of three straight Saturday benefits for late rockabilly musician Chadd Thomas, who was found dead on South Con­gress July 11. This installment features Rick Broussard's Two Hoots and a Holler, Thomas' Crazy Kings, and Ruby Dee & the Snakehandlers. The Travis County Medical Examiner has ruled the case a homicide, and the Austin Police Department is investing three altercations that occurred in the hours prior to his death. A native of Birmingham, Ala., Thomas, 37, played a show that Saturday night at the Aviary Decor. Investigators say the first incident involved a car accident in which Thomas knew the driver, while the second was an assault at a party on East Alpine Road. "We believe he left the party and was driven to the 2600 block of South Congress," APD detective Chris Smyth told KVUE. "There he was possibly assaulted again, and then he was found dead within 100 yards of where he was last seen alive." Witnesses are encouraged to contact APD's homicide tip line, 477-3588.

While OTR Was Out

The 2011 Austin City Limits Music Festival dropped its daily schedule. The lawn chair community breathed a collective sigh of relief that Friday's hip-hop (Big Boi, Nas & Damian Marley, Kanye West) was sequestered to only one portion of Zilker Park. Select performances this year will be simulcast on YouTube.

The Hold Steady's Craig Finn has been ringing up bar tabs all across town. In his spare time, he's cutting a solo LP with Mike McCarthy. Follow along at www.steadycraig.tumblr.com.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell cut the ribbon for the Austin Music Foundation's new Creative Media Center, a facility in the Soundcheck building at Austin Studios (1901 E. 51st) with eight computer stations for bands too lazy to get a library card.

Reefer Madness: The absurdist saga of Willie Nelson's November 2010 pot bust has taken another turn. Hudspeth County Judge Becky Dean-Walker rejected the singer's mail-in plea agreement, citing deferential treatment by prosecutor Kit Bramblett. "If Willie Nelson gets off with nothing, I'm not going to be part of it," Dean-Walker told The New York Times.

Emmis Austin Radio agreed to pay $12,000 to end a five-year payola investigation by the Federal Communications Commission. The complaint alleged that an unnamed 101X program host "received valuable consideration" from a heavy metal music store, a live music venue, and a band manager, among others. All I got was this crappy shirt.

The New York Times praised Pure X, heralding the local drone-pop outfit's debut, Pleasure (Acéphale), as "a fascinating and obstinate album full of crevasses and burrs. In places it's brutal, with the density of doom metal and the loneliness of desert country."

Leatherbag's Randy Reynolds
Leatherbag's Randy Reynolds
Photo by John Anderson

On Down the Line

It's not cheap to play Waterloo Records. An in-store appearance runs at least $500 – all of which goes toward covering advertising expenses – a significant expense for DIY artists. "This is our 115th release since 2005," joked Leatherbag's Randy Reynolds during a performance there Monday afternoon, but the timing couldn't be better for the local's capital investment. Leatherbag's latest, Yellow Television, and chaser EP Patience cap his strongest work to date, fusing American songcraft with the raw immediacy of New York's No Wave movement, a pairing that in new shouters "Teenage Creeps" and "No Future" fits Reynolds even better than his Buddy Holly specs. "We're trying to get rid of that alt.country/Dylan moniker that's been following us," Reynolds said before performing. Leatherbag's release schedule continues at Skinny's Ballroom tonight (Thursday, July 28) proceeded by an in-store at End of an Ear, 6pm.

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