Page Two: In the very beginning, there

Page Two
is the music and the clubs. In this town, those two are one and the same as though they were a single word -- musicandclubs. They feed off each other, creating a living entity. The music sustains the clubs, the clubs the music, and once a year we gather for the Austin Music Awards show at Palmer Auditorium to celebrate the best of Austin music as decreed by the public. This year, the show begins promptly at 7:55pm, Wednesday, March 1, the first official event of the 10th annual South by Southwest Music Conference.

The Awards show planning begins with a list, usually a very long list, of musical acts. Early on, some of the names are structured into a schedule, with other names written off to the side. They include newer bands and established acts, those we are certain will play and some we aren't sure about. Margaret Moser makes the list and I look at it. We shuffle and rearrange, add and subtract, argue and agree on names and bands. We show it to people, get feedback, then go back and rethink it. Finally, we begin to focus in on a working roster. Eventually, we will have a list that will be a complete line-up for an Austin Music Awards show, but it might be one that will never happen. It is just the first complete schedule, a way to see if our ideas can work.

The phone calls begin. We start to book cautiously. (We still remember one year when we ended up filling up the bill before we had any headlining acts. We try not to repeat that mistake.) Most bands say yes, some are already committed, a few make brilliant suggestions for other guests. And as this work goes on, so does the heroic tabulating of the Music Poll. A veteran of numerous ballotings, the incorruptible Nisa Sharma secretly conducts a very careful count. This is not an easy job. Over the course of ballot-counting, hundreds of Austin bands and musicians are nominated in dozens of categories. In the end, the readers speak, loudly and clearly.

As bands get booked, the show begins to take shape. Moser will excitedly call me at home late at night, I'll burst into her office in the middle of a harried deadline, we'll meet in the hallway talking at each other but not stopping. What band is playing first? How's the poster? Have we ordered tickets? Who will present Band of the Year? Why don't we ask such-and-such to play? It is a very old ritual, planning an Awards show. Then there are the other meetings, as the Awards show staff regroups and structure creaks back into working condition, all gearing up for the evening of Wednesday, March 13, 1996.

And finally, as the ballot count draws to a close and the Awards show schedule jels, we're ready to announce it. This year, The Austin Chronicle presents the 14th annual Austin Music Awards, with musical guests Don Walser's Pure Texas Band; Kris McKay's Too Many Girls featuring Kelly Willis, Abra Moore, and Sara Hickman; the Asylum Street Spankers; the Ian Moore Band; and Sixteen Deluxe, all emceed by the ever-charming Mr. Paul Ray. Tickets will be available at all Star Ticket outlets for $10 in advance, $13 at the door (plus tax and service charge).

There will be a benefit for

Chronicle editor and Hurtbox drummer Julie Weaver and her fiancé, longtime Chronicle family member Shelley Lucksinger, who were injured in an automobile wreck just before New Year's. Ed Hall, Sincola, a reunion of Swine King, Jesus Christ Superfly, and Tallboy will be at Liberty Lunch on Saturday, February 17. We will be there, for our friends and for a great show. We hope to see you there, too. n

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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