Off the Record
Ian McLagan snubs the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while Suzanna Choffel uproots to New York
Peace, Love, and Amoxicillin
The sixth annual HAAM Benefit Day on Tuesday would have been more difficult to avoid than to take part in. With more than 170 performances – and as many HAAMbassadors – stretched across the city and 217 area businesses donating proceeds to the cause, the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians convincingly illustrated once more the way music binds the local community. Nowhere was that more evident than at Discount Electronics in Southwest Austin, which could pass for an alternate South Austin Museum of Popular Culture with classic show posters and memorabilia lining the walls, including a Stevie Ray Vaughan statue and the best Willie Nelson shrine this side of Carl's Corner. Los Texas Wranglers made good use of the stage built just for the occasion, shuffling through hardscrabble cumbia and conjunto traditionals. "Now we're going to move over to Taco Cabana and play a few songs for some tacos," the band joked. Other highlights from OTR's favorite unofficial holiday included songbird Dana Falconberry delivering lovely folk lullabies about crooked rivers and pine trees at Oxford Commercial and the terse bloodletting of Quiet Company at Waterloo Records for the release of We Are All Where We Belong. "We trended regionally on Twitter," beamed HAAM Executive Director Carolyn Schwarz on Wednesday morning. "We still have some coming in later, but with donations we raised $30,000, exactly what we needed to meet the matching grants."
Here Comes the Nice
Apparently, congratulations are not in order for the Small Faces/Faces dual nomination to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "It's very insulting to be lumped together," fumed longtime local Ian McLagan, the pianist behind both acclaimed British rock bands (see "Saving Face," Aug. 6, 2004). "It was nice to be thought of, but damnit, it's too little, way too late. If that sounds like I'm ungrateful, then so be it. Fuck it. I've waited long enough." Given the spectacle that accompanies the annual induction ceremony, the nomination could be an attempt to bring Rod Stewart back onstage with the reunited Faces. McLagan won't rule out that possibility, but if he had to choose one band for inclusion ... "Small Faces," he answers without missing a beat, "'cause we were first. And Steve [Marriott] and Ronnie [Lane] haven't been honored, and it's about bloody time." While the institution seems determined to ignore Austin icons Stevie Ray Vaughan, Roky Erickson, and Doug Sahm, the Texas Music Hall of Fame might soon offer some consolation. Taking a page from the Chronicle's Austin Music Awards – Margaret Moser sits on the board – the newly minted institution will induct five members through an electoral panel of approximately 150 voters, beginning in 2012. The site, www.texasmusichof.com, launches Oct. 19, the same day the new nonprofit hosts a private kickoff party at GSD&M.
God's Own Yodeler
In September 2003, late C&W yodeler Don Walser retired from the stage as the swelling and numbness in his hands made it increasingly difficult to perform. His dear friend Mark Rubin made arrangements for a field recording that became Walser's final recordings. The resulting digital-only album, Just Me and My Old Guitar, is the closest local equivalent to Johnny Cash's American series, a lasting testament to the simple grace and plaintive songcraft of Austin's "Pavarotti of the Plains." "Don lived inside of his songs and they became real to him every time he sang them," Rubin wrote of the sessions, which were mastered by longtime admirer Gurf Morlix, "and we felt it was important to document the man and his stories in as natural and unvarnished a manner." Rubin has also reissued the Bad Livers' 1993 live collaboration with Erik Hokkanen on CD Baby/iTunes, Aka: The Mad Cat Trio, to be followed this fall with an unreleased four-song EP from the previous year. Finally, his new old-time outfit, Atomic Duo, which visits Green Mesquite Barbeque Friday, Oct. 7, has cut a new album of "topical tunes" with Lloyd Maines, as well as some additional tracks for Danny Barnes' new cassette tape label. "Nostalgia is a dangerous trap," says Rubin, "but working with old friends is another thing." www.cdbaby.com/cd/donwalser2.
Empire State of Mind
Suzanna Choffel's trying her luck in the Big Apple. "Austin has been great to me, but if I stay here, I'll hit a point soon where I'm a little bored and antsy and need a push," reasons the native singer-guitarist (see "The Next Fun Fearless Female Rock Star," Nov. 28, 2008). The sultry pop chameleon already has connections in New York – her publishing company, Primary Wave Music – and a place to play. Her boyfriend, Momo's owner Paul Oveisi, is taking over management duties of Manhattan's Hill Country Live, an extension of Hill Country Barbecue Market, with an eye at expanding the brand into other cities. "I can't wait to bring the brand of Austin music to New York City and possibly other cities down the road," wrote Oveisi, who's also transitioning out of his role as head of Austin Music People, while longtime general manager Will Evans will be running Momo's. "It's a dream I had for a while and now it's perfect timing," says Choffel. "It's definitely easier with a partner." Choffel headlines a farewell soiree at Momo's on Friday, Oct. 7, featuring special guests Dan Dyer, Adrian Quesada, Kat Edmonson, and more.
Residual Kid landed its teen anthem "Can't Take Me Away" on Friday's edition of ABC's 20/20, an hourlong special about the E.O. Green Junior High School shooting and the ongoing trial for the alleged hate-fueled homicide. The local power trio in training, ages 11-13, were discovered by the program's producer and have agreed to donate all proceeds from iTunes sales to noteworthy organizations, including the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.
After taping Fleet Foxes this Friday, Oct. 7, Austin City Limits is venturing to Nashville, Tenn., to film the Americana Music Festival & Conference next weekend for the final episode of the series' 37th season. One of the fest's headliners, Robert Plant, premiered his Austin-based band Crown Vic with gal pal Patty Griffin at the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love at El Cosmico in Marfa two weeks ago.
In an encore to last year's Ladies & Gentleman the Rolling Stones engagement, the never-before-seen 1978 concert film The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live in Texas will be screening one night only at the Regal Arbor 8 and Metropolitan theatres and at Tinseltown North in Pflugerville, Tuesday, Oct. 18.
Road trip! The 25th annual Gruene Music & Wine Festival at the historic Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Oct. 6-9, hosts its biggest headliners to date: B.B. King, Lucinda Williams, Los Lonely Boys, and Pat Green. Farther down the line in San Antonio, the International Accordion Festival, Oct. 7-9, returns to La Villita on the River Walk, featuring Albert Zamora and the Pine Leaf Boys, among others.
Making layovers bearable since 1999, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport hosts its 5,000th live music performance on Friday, Oct. 7, with local jazz musicians Silvie Rider and Red Young, 3:30pm. Next month, booker Nancy Coplin plans to add two more daytime gigs, bringing the weekly total up to 15 shows, all paid through sponsorships. Kudos.