Daily Music
Red Dirt Country
At mid-afternoon on a Thursday, Spencer Thomas tends the counter at the Texas Pie Company in downtown Kyle. A longtime player in the Austin blues scene, Thomas knows that gigs seldom pay the bills. Even an under the radar gem like his 2007 CD Voodoo Dreams doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to rent and mortgages. Any way you slice it, he's doing the right thing. Thomas isn’t the only one finding life in Kyle appealing. The screen door opens and in walks Johnny Solinger, lead singer for Skid Row since 2000. Solinger sports the requisite flowing locks, scrunched cowboy hat, and cocky-friendly attitude of a rocker. He’s got a firm handshake and a smile for everyone and if someone whipped out a bandana for him to autograph right in front of the pie display, he’d grin and do that too. Replacing Sebastian Bach was no small chore, so the New Jersey boys did the right thing as well and looked to Texas. That’s where they found Solinger, a native “of HEB,” as he calls the Metroplex area of Hurst-Euless-Bedford. He sharpened his vocals fronting Solinger and other bands while performing with fellow upstarts like Pantera. And when Skid Row called in 2000, he was Johnny on the spot.

11:28AM Tue. Apr. 8, 2008, Margaret Moser Read More | Comment »

Flashback number one occurred during the third song of Shine a Light, “She Was Hot,” second single off 1983’s Undercover. Four shows from the European leg of the Rolling Stones' 2005/2006 Bigger Bang tour hadn’t produced such a nugget, but two weeks after the band’s razing of Austin’s Zilker Park (10.22.06), they pulled it out at the Oakland Coliseum. A song long dismissed save perhaps for its equally forgotten slapstick clip running many cable lifetimes ago on Night Flight, live it sent me scrambling back to Undercover. Sure enough: Keith Richards gnaws its Chuck Berry bramble and spits out barbwire. Martin Scorsese blows the shoot in Shine a Light, staying on Mick Jagger when his 18 cameras should be zeroing in on Richards and Ronnie Wood, but no matter. On the Shine a Light soundtrack, it proves itself fraternal twin to Zilker Park freezer burn “She’s So Cold.” Three songs later, Shine a Light pulls out “Some Girls,” another Oakland jolt from my lifetime Stones stalk, only this one from 1999, opening night of the No Security tour. We had shitty seats, but when the boys produced “Shine a Light” and the whole indoor arena sang it with the house lights on, Exile on Main Street rang rebirth not dissolution. “Shine a Light” holds its lighter aloft only over the film’s end credits roll – live – but on the 2-CD version of the soundtrack, its bonhomie unfurls cocktails before the Last Supper.

3:18PM Fri. Apr. 4, 2008, Raoul Hernandez Read More | Comment »

A Certain Ringing in the Ears
As a former South Floridian, I spent many a night at the dank, dirty Miami dive known as Churchill's. Every Thursday night for what seems like forever, Frank Falestra, aka Rat Bastard, would gather his group the Laundry Room Squelchers - named after the laundry room the bar inexplicably had out back - and become the house band. The LRS was always Rat and anyone who wanted to play, and the balmy screech and squall could clear the room or incite a riot, depending on the night and how drunk everyone was.

The International Noise Conference is basically Rat's squirming brainchild, the idea being to bring that Thursday night vibe to different cities across the country. On Monday at Emo's Lounge, Austin gets its chance to clean up. Here's a quick Q&A with fellow Floridian/Baby Robots and Rubble guitarist/conference co-organizer Bobby Baker (along with guitarist Doug Ferguson), followed by the lineup, with helpful descriptions of the bands (by the bands).

Schadenfreude: Will there be an actual conference?
Bobby Baker: God, I hope not. Rat doesn't articulate well, especially after 35 beers.

S: How long has Rat been doing the INC?
BB: I think this is the fourth year. He wanted to bring his sonic battering ram on the road, basically getting all the noise freaks from around the country together to do it in their cities. The same thing he does every Thursday night in Miami, which is blow people away with the most awful/awesome noise rock.

S: I noticed on the INC website it says, "No laptops! No droning!" What will you do if someone shows up with a laptop?
BB: Make them go on stage and check their Myspace for 15 minutes, in front of God and everyone else.

S: What are some of the bands to catch?
BB: Leslie Keffer with Venison Whirled. Venison Whirled is the best noise thing in the country, in my jaded opinion. Laundry Room Squelchers will close the show with some must-see antics.

11:22AM Fri. Apr. 4, 2008, Audra Schroeder Read More | Comment »

True to the name of his new CD, Colin Meloy does indeed sing live. This Monday, in fact, at La Zona Rosa. Here, he speaks of how going solo is like having visitation rights, how the Decemberists are so not breaking up, and more.

Southside of the Tracks: You’re in the studio right now? What are you working on?
Colin Meloy: We’re working on some odds and ends, songs that we don’t necessarily envision fitting on the next record we’ll be working on in the summer. I don’t know if we’ll have time to record them, but we wanted to get them down and do something with them, so we’re just recording like 6 songs or something.

SotT: These are Decemberists songs though, right?
CM: Yeah, they’re Decemberists songs.

SotT: So there’s certainly nothing going on with those rumors floating around that the band was taking some time off or splitting up?
CM: No, no, no. Not at all.

SotT: What was the impetus for your wanting to put out the solo album?
CM: Well, it’s been kind of in the works for a while. I went out on the solo tour in the winter of '06 and we recorded all the shows. We thought it would be fun to have them and maybe if it was solid enough, put out a record. Kill Rock Stars was game, so we just went for it.

SotT: You strike me as a person that has an archivist tendency. I don’t know if that would be correct or not, but what was your process for choosing these songs in particular?
CM: It was a challenge. I’m not really that archivist. I don’t really like listening to my own voice and I’m kind of burnt on our music, or at least I can be burnt on our music. I definitely had to spend a lot of time last summer just sitting and listening to shows over and over again to just pick out what the best moments were. It was kind of like office work. A lot of times when we record a record, I’ll listen to it obsessively for about a month while we’re recording and then during mixing and after mixing, just to try to get a feel for it, and then not listen to it ever again.

3:29PM Thu. Apr. 3, 2008, Doug Freeman Read More | Comment »

HighTone Records RIP
A couple of weeks before South by Southwest, the news came in that a part of Texas had died and no one really noticed. Although HighTone Records was headquartered in Oakland, Calif., its impact and support of Texas musicians was immeasurable.

This week came the official press release. Los Angeles reissue upstarts Shout! Factory announced they'd acquired the HighTone catalog and will begin “releasing favorites from the extensive catalog beginning in August, making the titles more widely available digitally.” For fans of American roots music the passing of this great indie is body blow.

The label began in 1983 with the release of Robert Cray’s Bad Influence. A surprise hit, it set the course for close to 300 other discs. HighTone put out some of the best work of local faves like Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, and Dale Watson. It brought worldwide attention to the likes of retro-swingers Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys (whose Continental Club shows had to be experienced to be believed) and the astonishing talents of songwriter/guitarist Buddy Miller. Under their influence the careers of Dave Alvin and Tom Russell flourished.

11:40AM Wed. Apr. 2, 2008, Jim Caligiuri Read More | Comment »

Grupo Gold
2007 was a good year for the gentlemen behind Austin’s favorite Latin band, Grupo Fantasma. The 11-piece ensemble taped an episode of Austin City Limits, their Latin funk spin-off Brownout released an excellent debut, Homenaje, (Freestyle), and they played with everyone from Prince to Talib Kweli to Marc Anthony - on a single night.

But that may have been a warm-up lap as Grupo gears up for the June 17 release of Sonidos Gold (Aire Sol), their third studio album. Bump & Hustle chatted via email with Grupo guitarist Adrian Quesada about the new album and the year ahead.

Bump & Hustle: What's the sound of the new album?
Adrian Quesada: I like to think it’s the definitive Grupo Fantasma album. I’ve never felt that way 100% about any of our albums and even though I think they all capture a moment in time for us, I feel like this is the album I’ve been wanting to make since the beginning. The sound is organic and live with little psychedelic and cinematic undertones. I want it to sound timeless but forward thinking at the same time. Sonically, I would also describe it as big and roomy.

12:59PM Tue. Apr. 1, 2008, Thomas Fawcett Read More | Comment »

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HAAM Happy
Nancy Coplin’s such a smart cookie. For her 60th birthday, she threw herself a party Sunday evening at Antone’s to benefit the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. And boy howdy, did it rake in the bucks! The silent auction had me drooling over a two-night stay at the Driskill versus a collector’s selection of out-of-print Doug Sahm CDs. I kept upping bids and still lost out. But that was good for HAAM, because the house was packed, the ink pens were flowing on the bid sheets, and the Texas Heritage Songwriters Association surprised Nancy with a $10,000 donation to HAAM.

2:24PM Mon. Mar. 31, 2008, Margaret Moser Read More | Comment »

Zeppelin 3
“Free trip to Norway,” read the email subject line. That got my attention. So did frostbite and snowbanks downstairs in the open-air train station at the Oslo airport in February three months later.

“Arctic Circle,” pronounced my father when first informed of Norwegian hospitality. Top of the world, ma! If I ever harbored designs to the Norse Pole it’s courtesy of Led Zeppelin.

Now being accosted by a gang of music thugs in the back of a school bus in the 7th or 8th grade and bullied towards some sort of blood pledge to Led Zeppelin didn’t exactly foster my fealty to the UK’s other fab four. Luckily, my deflowering had gone down several years earlier with a new vinyl copy of Led Zeppelin IV. They had me at the guitar propeller crank that turns over “Black Dog,” though “Rock and Roll” cedes literal embodiment to no namesake. “D’yer Mak’er,” forever first time, mortgaged Houses of the Holy next.

My first year of high school brought 1979’s In Through the Out Door, “In the Evening,” “Fool in the Rain,” and “All of My Love” triangulating radio. On the vinyl’s inner sleeve, the just-add-water colors really worked, “Hot Dog.” The following year, I was in class the days alcohol overdoses killed both AC/DC live wire Bon Scott (2.19.80) and Led Zeppelin wingman John Bonham (9.25.80). I was doing my math homework the night John Lennon was assasinated (12.8.80). I blame Ronald Reagan for the massacre.

1:19PM Fri. Mar. 28, 2008, Raoul Hernandez Read More | Comment »

Bill Callahan Appears
Bill Callahan has a history of turning up in odd places, like atop Mt. Bonnell for his KUT Retread Session. OTR still regrets missing his September 2006 performance at the Parish with Joanna Newsom.

On Sunday, Callahan clears the air once more at Mohawk with Shearwater's Jonathan Meiburg, who will likely back Callahan as well. Shows starts at 11pm with Meiburg on the inside stage.

1:07PM Fri. Mar. 28, 2008, Austin Powell Read More | Comment »

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