Daily Music
A Detour With Taj Mahal
OK, some of this was my fault. I'd been talking to Taj Mahal’s publicist about doing an interview before his Austin show for more than a week. We went back and forth a few times and after a while I didn’t think it was really going to happen. It’s not inside baseball to reveal sometimes you work on a story idea and it never sees the light of day. Then she calls me with a time to talk to him. The downside was that it only allowed me about an hour to prepare for it. So, to be honest, I wasn’t quite ready. Having whipped together some fairly generic questions, I reach Mahal (originally Henry Saint Clair Fredericks) on the phone from the West Coast and he doesn’t like the questions I’m asking. So he hijacks the interview, and the 65-year-old bluesman starts talking, in his gravelly, Wolfman Jack kind of voice, about what he’s interested in, and that's where this picks up.

The Taj Mahal Trio plays an early show at Antone’s – it was moved from the Glenn – tomorrow evening with opener Ruthie Foster.

11:33AM Wed. Nov. 7, 2007, Jim Caligiuri Read More | Comment »

Cute Band Alert!
When I got the Redwalls' new self-titled CD a few weeks back, it hit the CD player immediately and has lingered nearby ever since. I even pulled out their 2005 release, De Nova, and played them back-to-back for an afternoon of butt-rockin' Britpop with a dollop of Chicago rock chutzpah. When I play the Redwalls, I'm 20 years old and nothing can go wrong.

Except I'm nowhere near 20 any longer and that cussin' you'll hear tonight is me looking for parking spot near Emo's, where the quartet plays with Rooney and the Polyphonic Spree. That's OK. I'll just hum "Modern Diet" and "Little Sister" as I walk the blocks just to watch their shaggy heads bob and their skinny butts shake.

My Chicago buddy Cynthia Plaster Caster loves these boys too, and they were cool (and smart) enough to pay homage at her birthday party in May. I love it when young bands are savvy enough to recognize getting the thumbs-up from old school groupies like Cynthia is as good as a four-star review in whatever the hip publication of the moment is.

Of course, I could be persuaded to drop by Waterloo Records and see their in-store at 5pm today as well. That way I can ask if they named themselves after the Brian Jacques books with all those cute little mice dressed as pirates. If so, their next album should be called Mossflower County.

10:53AM Wed. Nov. 7, 2007, Margaret Moser Read More | Comment »

Music Monday Returns!
Along with the much-anticipated opening of the Alamo Drafthouse @ the Ritz comes the return of the $2 Music Monday. Tonight and next Monday, catch Susan Dynner's doc Punk's Not Dead, a meditation on the Hot Topicality of modern punk rock.

11/19: My Name Is Albert Ayler

11/26: Sound of Rio

12/3: Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars

4:58PM Mon. Nov. 5, 2007, Audra Schroeder Read More | Comment »

Sound Off
Remember a few weeks ago when the Austin Music Commission announced it was calling a town hall meeting to discuss possible changes to the Austin sound ordinance and other legislation affecting the local music scene? It's happening tonight at Momo's (618 W. Sixth St., #200), 7pm, directly following the AMC's meeting at 6pm. All interested parties are encouraged to attend. Speak now or forever hold your piece.

12:43PM Mon. Nov. 5, 2007, Austin Powell Read More | Comment »

The Best of the Rest of the Fests, Etc.
November gets such a bad rap, represented by all those turkeys and pumpkins and pilgrims with muskets. The weather might dump freezing rain here but more likely we’ll see balmy days like the ones of late. That’s good news for the Texas Book Festival, which may soon need to change its name to the Texas Book and Music Festival if the entertainment gets any more ambitious.

Saturday's lineup in the music tent, next to the State Capitol, kicks off in the morning with Djembabes, Gypzee Heart, and Joel Guzman & Sarah Fox, but I love the afternoon bill: Ernie Mae Miller (1pm), Steven Fromholz (2pm), and Jesse Sublett (3pm). Miller’s appearances grow fewer and Fromholz is always a delight but Sublett’s recent solo gigs are a far cry from his days in the Skunks. Bear in mind that “solo” show means him playing acoustic guitar and upright bass plus an appearance by his son Dashiell and Jeff Jacoby. Sublett, who specializes in playing “noir blues and murder ballads” when he’s not script- or book-writing, will be introduced by special guest emcee Michael Connelly, author of Lincoln Lawyer and Black Echo.

2:48PM Fri. Nov. 2, 2007, Margaret Moser Read More | Comment »

Bring the Music Back
Grounded in Music, a new Austin-based non-profit organization dedicated to turning underprivileged youth from the Boys & Girls Club on to music, holds its first benefit at Antone’s Monday with appearances from Adam Hood, Sonny Burgess, and Doug Moreland, among others. Former Sound Team bassist and current solo artist Bill Baird recently demonstrated some nifty guitar work for the organization. “I was playing my looping sampler and E-bow,” he recalls. “I got a bunch of gasps and one kid yelled out, ‘That's tight!'"

1:03PM Fri. Nov. 2, 2007, Austin Powell Read More | Comment »

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Galactic's Halloween Freak-out
New Orleans funksters Galactic's Halloween show has become an Austin tradition. Sort of like Leslie hanging out in his bikini on the corner of Sixth and Congress. If Wednesday's performance was any indication, they may soon outgrow the amphitheater. Things kicked off slowly with a short set of hip-hop from Portland Ore.’s Lifesavas; the two MCs and a DJ shtick was a bit cliched at first, but ended on an upbeat blast of fist-pumping political fervor. At the very least, their message was a positive one.

Next came the costume contest, won by a guy dressed as a Transformer, though the third place finisher, Richard Nixon in a box (think about it), seemed the most inspired. Galactic hit the stage dressed as mad scientists, in white lab coats and fright wigs. Drawing heavily from their latest, From the Corner to the Block (Anti-), a mash-up of their heavy funk with a variety of rappers, the quintet veered from blues to soul to metal-laced beats. This go-round they were initially joined by Mr. Lif, who gave way to Galactic’s more traditional soul jazz sound. Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na set the righteous groove of “Think Back,” which led into a blast of blues that featured guitarist Jeff Raines. One of the set's high points came when saxophonist Ben Ellman was augmented by the Mingo Fishtrap Horns, dressed as Ewoks, for a freak-out worthy of Zappa.

The two-hour set ended with at least five MCs on stage urging the crowd to “put your hands up” and they obliged. Where Galactic heads next is anyone’s guess, but judging from this mighty throw down, their energetic combination of funk, rap, blues, and jazz remains fresh and unequaled.

11:38AM Fri. Nov. 2, 2007, Jim Caligiuri Read More | Comment »

More More More Fun
The ripple effect caused by this year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest has reached Red River, with official aftershows taking place at venues like Room 710, Headhunters, and Beerland. Listed below is a breakdown of the more notable events, with some blanks left for unannounced special guests.

Friday: Club de Ville gets things started with a free show that includes NYC’s Robbers on High Street, Great Northern, Goodbye Girl Friday, and locals Til We're Blue or Destroy. DFA’s Tim Sweeney and Ian Orth work the ones and twos at Beauty Bar, while Scott Kelly of Neurosis and Buzzoven’s Kirk Fischer fly solo at Headhunters.

The clocks roll back an hour at midnight Saturday, so that translates to an extra hour of live music. Festival headliners Murder City Devils are hinted to be the special guests at Mohawk, following Those Peabodys. Beerland hosts a garage punk revival headlined by the Heart Attacks and High Tension Wires, the new project of Riverboat Gambler Mike Wiebe, with equally impressive openers Holy Shit and Teeners, who have a sweet new 7-inch on local imprint Super Secret Records. Denton’s most paranoid avant-rock act, the Paper Chase, is at Red 7 with Assacre and Death is Not a Joyride, but the real catch is Stinking Lizaveta, a progressive instrumental trio from Philadelphia. Swedish rockers Witchcraft enchant Room 710, while Sick of it All and Madball barrel through Headhunters. Busdriver is rumored to appear at Beauty Bar alongside Daedleus and Anitmc, and Mates of State close the night at Club de Ville with Small Sins and Immaculate Machines.

For those still standing Sunday, renowned California punk label TKO Records houses Lower Class Brats, Krum Bums, and the Heart Attacks at Red 7. Austin-bred standouts What Made Milwaukee Famous and Loxsly serenade Mohawk with New York-based Afro-punks Dragons of Zynth. Brownout and the Table Manners Crew lay down grooves next door at Club de Ville, and Beauty Bar hosts the Mad Decent party with Baltimore’s Blaqstarr, Prince Klassen, and Iheartcomics’ Franki Chan.

1:44PM Thu. Nov. 1, 2007, Austin Powell Read More | Comment »

What the World Needs Now
Austin, 2007, is a much different place than when David Lowery started playing here in the mid-Eighties with Camper Van Beethoven and later, Cracker. That’s OK, because David Lowery has changed a lot too: Cracker’s recent CD Greenland reaped much critical praise but on this day his job as a parent is to decide whether or not his son is really sick or if this is just a Monday morning don’t-wanna-go-to-school tummyache.

Luckily for the boy, Lowery decides that yes, there’s cause for concern, so after making arrangements with the child’s mother, he turns the conversation to one of his current projects: making videos from songs like “Deep Oblivion” and “Baby, All Those Girls Meant Nothing to Me” and posting them on YouTube. This won’t surprise longtime fans of Lowery, whose dry, wry Nineties-era cult hits “Low” and “Teen Angst” sold out Liberty Lunch on a regular basis.

Though Lowery was born in San Antonio, his music takes its cues as much from folk-rock as alt-rock, reflecting the panoply of sounds from the various places he lived during his military childhood.

1:23PM Thu. Nov. 1, 2007, Margaret Moser Read More | Comment »

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