Daily Music
ACL: It Has Begun
Taking the scenic route on the Town Lake trail to the ACL Friday morning, the theme from Chariots of Fire seemed to ease through the trees in slow motion. It provided a surreal opening soundtrack to this weekend's marathon festivities. No sooner had the gates opened did the shade promptly disappear, replaced with chairs filled by the elderly,staking their claim at the BMI songwriter's stage, where Sahara Smith surprised most early with her poised performance. Thus far the weather has cooperated, though problems have been reported with the main water line. Stay tuned.

1:22PM Fri. Sep. 14, 2007, Austin Powell Read More | Comment »

ACL: Kaboom!
A local media outlet that will remain nameless wanted the Chronicle to comment on the differences between ACL and SXSW. Duh: a week and at least 1,000 bands.

More and more, though, ACL is picking up steam. Not so much in numbers, but in all the activity surrounding ACL. Last night, for instance, I knocked down a trio of Zilker Park performers some 12 hours before the first act - Sahara Smith, who was lovely - played her first note.

Crowded House, which taped an Austin City Limits episode, was at its droll, rollicking best. Paris' Gotan Project - two DJs and enough violins for the Austin Symphony - came off... Euro. As in, it probably goes over like gangbusters in a continental disco, but outdoors at Stubb's it was a snooze. Finally, Ryan Shaw at the Parish, a 26-year-old R&B act from Georgia, performed "Let It Be," everyone's least-favorite Beatles song. Enough said? Go see him anyway. Modern R&B acts kicking it old school are about as rare as STAX.

Then there was Charles Walker and the Dynamites this morning at the Four Seasons.

12:06PM Fri. Sep. 14, 2007, Raoul Hernandez Read More | Comment »

The 'Damaged' Cycle
Years ago, I lived in a house in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a two-story remnant from the 1920s that had been converted into apartments, and then painted the most offensive shade of yellow, so that it looked like a block of cheese. It could be said my roommate and I were the most boring people living there. Behind us was the transsexual drug dealer who chased one of his/her underage houseboys down the street with a screwdriver late one night. Upstairs was a creepy older man with thick, grimy glasses who resembled an R. Crumb character and never wore a shirt. (He ended up being found dead in that apartment after I moved out.) And across the hall from him was a very large white trash family whose mother had a constant stream of mechanic boyfriends. One of her five sons was a teenage boy who, for about a month, listened to Black Flag’s Damaged pretty much on repeat.

Damaged was the first Black Flag album I heard as a teenager and I only picked up the cassette because the cover looked awesome. But now when I think of the album, the memories are of that house and my bedroom below his, the kick drum thumping through the ceiling, Henry Rollins’ vocals muffled but still unmistakably pissed. Somehow I came to appreciate the album more that way, reacquainting myself with the first anxiety-filled guitar line of “Rise Above” and the off-time urgency of “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie.” Damaged always seemed unfuckwithable.

4:39PM Thu. Sep. 13, 2007, Audra Schroeder Read More | Comment »

After Hippie Hour
After 15 years, Toni Price played her last Tuesday early evening gig at the Continental Club in April. Price has since moved to San Diego, but she left a huge hole in the SoCo venue’s schedule that left owner Steve Wertheimer scratching his head as how to fill it. What took its place is markedly different, yet retains enough of the vibe that made Hippie Hour special.

Dubbed Planet Casper, it’s anchored by Casper Rawls, longtime Price accompanist and Leroi Brother, and a rotating cast of musicians and songwriters that have included Price alums Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Warren Hood, and Rich Brotherton, as well as David Grissom, Earl P. Ball, and Steve Doerr. Set up as a writers-in-the round configuration, which allows for maximum participation, it’s a chance to hear a wide range of styles, original compositions, and surprising covers.

1:26PM Thu. Sep. 13, 2007, Jim Caligiuri Read More | Comment »

ACL: The Bloc Party
No one wants to go home at 10pm in Austin. As the annual ACL Festival continues to rise in national prominence, so have the number of “unofficial” aftershows. Here’s a quick rundown of this weekend’s more notable events.

The safest bet for the weekend is the two-venue, two-day throwdown at Mohawk and Club de Ville, sponsored by Dell Lounge and Hot Freaks! Art Brut, Grizzly Bear, Brazos, and Crazy Sexy Rainbow appear on Friday, followed by St. Vincent, Sparrow House, the Rosebuds, and Yellow Fever on Saturday. The guest list is apparently full at this time, but you can sign up for the waiting list here, or try slipping the door guy a ten-spot.

Both the Clientele and Oakley Hall have new albums and are playing Friday at Emo’s for free. Lamberts hosts a two-night one-man band festival, with Gary Clark Jr., Homer Henderson, Scott H. Biram, and John Schooley. Club 115, the cozy new venue located at 115 San Jacinto, hosts Drive-by Trucker Patterson Hood on Friday, followed by a two-night stand from spacey jam rockers Particle.

11:36AM Thu. Sep. 13, 2007, Austin Powell Read More | Comment »

Me and Miss Jones
Call her Mrs. Partridge, call her Marian the librarian, call her Lulu Bains. Call her by the names of any of the characters she’s played in more than five decades on the stage and big and small screens and she’s got a story about it. From her Oscar-winning turn in 1960’s Elmer Gantry to pop culture icon in The Partridge Family to hot-blooded grandmother in 2006’s Grandma’s Boy, Shirley Jones is one of the coolest 73-year-olds still working.

She’s also very candid. When asked, “What were you doing before this phone call,” Jones doesn't hesitate to reply: “Having an argument.” That's followed by a laugh. I think she was relieved we didn’t talk much about The Partridge Family. “Don’t you get tired of talking about the series over and over?” I asked her. Another honest answer: “Yes, I do.”

Shirley Jones possesses one of the prettiest faces to have ever appeared on the big (or small) screen. Her natural, girl-next-door beauty was exquisitely designed with a velvety innocence; combined with her bell-clear soprano, no wonder the dream team of Rodgers & Hammerstein scooped her up and put her under contract for Carousel and Oklahoma! Being a squeaky-clean ingénue limited Jones, however, and when she heard about Elmer Gantry being made, she went after the part. Sort of.

“Burt Lancaster fought for me to get that role,” she recalled of how she landed the role of Lulu Bains. “He’d seen me do Playhouse 90 on television and thought I could do the part. Of course, I wanted it! I got to play against type.”

1:56PM Wed. Sep. 12, 2007, Margaret Moser Read More | Comment »

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Austin Noise Limits
If the thought of standing, sweating, and chafing at Zilker Park this weekend is about as appealing as sticking hot forks in your eyes, the Opera House offers an alternative Friday. The venerable Jherri Zeinfeldt's Atropheed Saq, who just released its CD Dog Star Sac, a tribute to experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage, performs, along with locals Aunt's Analog, Iron Kite, Dromez, and San Fran's Pigs in the Ground, starting at 8pm.

The Saq's going on ten years, and I recently asked drummer Lisa Cameron what it is about the collective's enduring legacy of clearing rooms:

"Two things come to mind," says Cameron. "One, the fact that we can still be considered one of Austin's enduring legacies despite not ever having learned one song and two, just as a dog returns to its vomit, so do Austin audiences return to JSAS. Hey, we may even have a statue at Town Lake or a chicken wing franchise someday."

Also in the skillet this weekend: Jacob Green, Thomas Fang, Brekekekexkoaxkoax, Douglas Ferguson, Plutonium Farmers, and Od Nalro at Salvage Vanguard Theater and the Pocket FishRmen CD release at Hole in the Wall Saturday.

12:40PM Wed. Sep. 12, 2007, Audra Schroeder Read More | Comment »

About a Son
The soundtrack to the new movie Kurt Cobain: About a Son (Barsuk), which premieres in October, drops in stores today. Like parts of The Devil and Daniel Johnston, the film portrays the immortal musician through moving imagery set against audio recordings, based on 25 hours of never-before-heard interviews conducted by Michael Azerrad for his seminal 1993 book, Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana.

The original score was composed by Steve Fisk, who produced Nirvana's 1989 Blew EP, and Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, whose cover of Beat Happening’s “Indian Summer” is the only dud on an otherwise stellar mixtape, which also features the Butthole Surfers, Arlo Guthrie, Half Japanese, the Vaselines, Mudhoney, Iggy Pop, Leadbelly, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Cobain’s meditations on Austin’s Scratch Acid, which preface “Owner’s Lament,” provide an interesting insight into his own artistic vision:

"At that time hardcore was totally dead. Speed metal was the next big thing and I hated that shit. The reason I like Scratch Acid so much was because they had structure to their songs, real simple pop structure that you could follow real easily, and it was almost like an Aerosmith song, but it was really fucked up. And that's what I was doing and that's what I wanted to do."

5:30PM Tue. Sep. 11, 2007, Austin Powell Read More | Comment »

ACL: The Final Countdown
Following in the steps of UK diva Amy Winehouse, Dublin-based instrumentalists Rodrigo y Gabriela have canceled the final leg of their North American tour due to Gabriela's exhaustion. Common replaces the duo on Sunday and is still scheduled to play La Zona Rosa later that night.

In other news, Bob Dylan is in fact performing at Stubb’s Saturday night. A limited number of pre-sale tickets went on sale yesterday (the password is available here). The rest are up for grabs 10am Wednesday here.

In other other news, the White Stripes have pulled out of the fest and their Sunday night gig at Stubb's citing "medical reasons." Contact 888.512.SHOW for refund info.

10:43AM Tue. Sep. 11, 2007, Austin Powell Read More | Comment »

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