RIP: Rusty Wier and Jon Pettis
Mourning the loss of two fine local musicians
By Austin Powell,
6:15PM, Fri. Oct. 9, 2009
It’s a heavy, tragic day in Austin music. Original cosmic soulman Rusty Wier, who held a Thursday residency at Saxon Pub for nearly 15 years, succumbed to liver cancer this morning after a two-year battle, his manager Vicky Moerbe confirmed on Myspace. Wier, 65, helped develop the “Austin Sound” with classics such as 1976’s out-of-print Black Hat Saloon.
“Rusty Wier's songs can't quite be pigeonholed in any one way,” wrote the Chronicle’s Margaret Moser in her 2002 cover story. “They are folk-rock at the base, layered with liberal doses of country and blues, and peppered by the lyrical humor of a back porch poet. His music has been called cosmic, progressive, and rootsy. It was pure Americana before the term was popular. Call it Rusticana.”
A memorial service is in the works, along with a tribute at the Saxon Pub.
Guitarist Jon Pettis of Bankrupt & the Borrowers, a promising young band that in many continued the traditions of Wier’s insurgent country, was found dead after a house fire at the Central East Austin dwelling he shared with his bandmates. According to officials, the fire appears to have been caused by an accidental electrical malfunction of a power strip, and one of the other seven residents of the home was treated by treated by Austin Travis County Emergency Medical Services paramedics and released.
Bankrupt & the Borrowers had a weekly residency at Hole in the Wall, along with a gig at November’s Fun Fun Fun Fest in the works. The band, who moved to Austin in late 2006, was also scheduled to play tonight at Club Deville and tomorrow at Mohawk after the Murder City Devils. Expect more details in next week’s Off the Record.