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Off the Record

Gimme All Your Lovin': Emo's heads East as John Kunz looks back; plus, Whiskey Shivers' single malt success

By Austin Powell, Fri., Sept. 2, 2011

Emo's East races toward the Butthole Surfers, Sept. 11
Emo's East races toward the Butthole Surfers, Sept. 11
Photo by John Anderson

East of Eden

The Red Baron: Emo's East foreman Frank Hendrix, owner
The Red Baron: Emo's East foreman Frank Hendrix, owner
Photo by John Anderson

The most drastic difference between Emo's front room on Red River and Emo's East on Riverside Drive isn't the modern facade designed by local Uchi architect Michael Hsu: Try the bathrooms. Instead of a cattle trough and a puddle of piss, there are brand-new facilities and sparkling tile – or at least there should be before the Butthole Surfers' judgment day, Sept. 11. "We're going to be slagged for being sellouts and corporate, but where we were at, we were going to go the way of CBGB's," acknowledges owner Frank Hendrix, who's been at the helm since 2000. "We were losing our relevance, and the facility is in disrepair. To stay relevant, to grow, this is what we needed to do." This being a $2 million renovation of former metal lair the Back Room (see "Welcome to the Jungle," July 28, 2006), with 48-foot ceilings, 100 tons of air conditioning, and 580 parking spots. Hendrix cites the latter as the prime economic factor in the move, with bus parking at the venue's original site costing up to $3,000 per month. "As the Downtown evolves into the vision that the city has for it, there's really not a place for what we do," said Hendrix, who confirmed that the outside stage of Emo's on Red River "won't be open for long." While modeled in part after the Knitting Factory in New York – Hendrix hired that club's audio engineer Eddie Hudson – budgetary constraints nixed the planned mezzanine level and second stage, though both features could be retrofitted later. A partitioning wall will lend Emo's East greater booking flexibility, with capacity ranging from 800 to 1,700, a necessity given the stated desire to host live music five nights a week in addition to a potential new festival. "We're going to do every type of music there is," said Hendrix, who partnered with Antone's and Ruta Maya last August. "It's a long-term commitment."

On the Rocks

"We're doing the best we can to let fame go to our heads," offers Whiskey Shivers bassist Andrew VanVoorhees regarding the success of the local folk ramblers' new single, "Gimme All Your Lovin'" (see last week's Wednesday Rewind at austinchronicle.com/earache). "We've invested heavily in drug habits, pretension, islands, and derisive women, which is difficult because we're still pretty broke." The video, shot in one sweaty afternoon on an Oltorf budget, went viral last week on social news site Reddit thanks to its Human Centipede-esque theatricality and controversial closing (spoiler alert): A slew of women disposed of like Deadwood prostitutes. "It was really just following the narrative of the song," argues VanVoorhees. "Apparently those girls didn't give the bluegrass monster all their lovin'." For more raunchy fun on the rocks, check out the Shivers' second album, Batholith.

Love and Circumstance

Carrie Rodriguez at Jeff Bridges' <i>ACL</i> taping
Carrie Rodriguez at Jeff Bridges' ACL taping
Photo by Gary Miller

Alongside Sir Douglas Quintet groover Augie Meyers, Carrie Rodriguez went a county mile toward propping up Jeff Bridges' Austin City Limits taping earlier this month, the local belle adding fiery fiddle and honeyed harmonies to the actor's endearing soundtrack for The Weary Kind. "We're probably a little tighter now," chuckles Rodriguez at the suggestion. The local folk songstress was recruited for the gig by producer T Bone Burnett, whom she had never met, and stayed on for the rest of the promotional push, which included an appearance at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (where bikers rev engines instead of applauding) and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno on Tuesday. "He's the most down-to-earth dude that I've ever met, literally," says Rodriguez of her co-star, who hosted rehearsals at his vacation ranch in Montana. "He showed up wearing a torn, faded Hawaiian shirt and shorts. He reminds me of my parents, an old Austin hippie ... my people." Rodriguez returns to Threadgill's World Headquarters on Wednesday for the start of a weekly residency, the Woodshed Series, debuting new material in front of her trusted, homegrown audience. "My grandmother, 87 years old, she sits in the front row with her cane," says Rodriguez, "and you know if she likes it or if she doesn't."

Random Play

David Garza has been handpicked to appear at Pearl Jam's PJ20, a two-day festival commemorating the 20-year anniversary of Ten this weekend at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Wisconsin, the site of Stevie Ray Vaughan's last performance. The local Latin-pop crooner is an old friend of PJ bassist Jeff Ament. "He asked to play bass with me for a few Seattle shows in 2002," Garza told OTR in 2008. "We practiced for a day at Pearl Jam's rehearsal space. I played through Neil Young's backline."

Following a brief tour together as part of the reformed Faces, local pianist Ian McLagan sat in on Ronnie Wood Radio earlier this month, trading stories and jukebox selections for close to an hour. "Funny enough, the organ I'm using at the moment with the Faces is the one Booker [T] uses," prefaced Mac on "Soul Dressing." Listen in (www.bit.ly/niBK2Z) or catch Mac with Jon Notarthomas at the Cactus Cafe on Friday.

Paper Cuts, the Chronicle's free live music series at the Palm Door, has local punk-blues duo Black Pistol Fire in the crosshairs for an exclusive engagement on Sept. 20. For RSVP notification and archival footage, go to austinchronicle.com/papercuts.

Seventeen days, six hours, six minutes, and 17 seconds: That's how long it'll be – since we last checked – until local drummer JJ Ruiz can return to the Scoot Inn after helping himself to a drink during the Air Traffic Controllers free show there last Thursday. Gerard Cosloy took to his defense with mock-epic protest on his sports blog, Can't Stop the Bleeding. "That JJ ended up behind the bar at some point in the evening is not under dispute," Cosloy posted, "but much like Nolan Rylan's DEATHTRAP of a ballpark in Arlington, TX., can Mr. Ruiz really be held accountable for the lack of a high enough railing?"

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