Dancing About Architecture
Let's Start Off With a (Mag) Neato Story (Ville)
Well, now, with former Storyville member Craig Ross inking a deal with MCA as reported here last week, you didn't expect the current lineup to keep lollygagging around, now did you? Though pen won't be touching parchment until mid-November, the Story is that the band will be signing on a joint venture with Atlantic and East/West Records, with the former handling the American deal and the latter handling matters outside of the USA. Manager Mark Proct says that work on the first album, which is currently expected to have a May release, will not begin until the deal is actually signed, but that the band has plenty of material and should be able to do the recording "fairly quickly." The band's demos have been sent to about a dozen producers; the narrowing down and final decision on who will helm the album will also wait until after the signing.
And while I've previously mentioned Kris McKay's deal with Shanachie Records, I haven't given you much in the way of details, so here are a few: It's a four-album deal, which would seem to imply that the folks at Shanachie have some serious confidence in our Kris, and you can listen for the former Wild Seed to have her first album on the label out in the spring...
"Layoff" is the word of the week at Antone's Records, where half the staff has
just been given the goodbye wave. Still, Antone's top man Harry Friedman
continues to insist that "the company isn't gonna go away" and that things will
remain on schedule. Though one ex-employee says that they haven't even seen a
release schedule for 1996, Friedman insists that there is indeed one and that
the Antone's Anniversary album and Steve James' next release are ready to go
and set for a release in the first quarter of next year, with releases by Teddy
Morgan and Boozoo Chavis next, and Sue Foley and Lou Ann Barton albums a little
farther down the line. Friedman says that some of those who were laid off
(bringing the company's staff down from 17 to 10 regular employees) are still
being offered work by Antone's, comparing the situation to the way papers like
the Chronicle use freelance writers. He also notes strong sales on
recent albums from the label despite "distribution problems that we have to get
cleared up." Still, the elimination of several full-time positions in retail,
publicity, and tour coordination sounds like a mighty big hurdle to overcome.
The Incredible Shrinking Antone's
If you've been putting off checking out the great old bluesmen of our town,
you need to get off your duff and appreciate them while there are still some
around. This week saw the passing of yet another Austin blues legend, the
Reverend Lavada Durst a.k.a. Dr. Hepcat, from liver disease. Durst's name is
connected with a number of "firsts"; he was the first black deejay in the
South, hired by John Connally in the Forties, as well as one of the first
deejays to start playing R&B and rock & roll on the radio. He was best
known as a musician for his hit "Let's Talk About Jesus," and was part of the
original Texas Piano Professors program as well as a local booking agent who
booked the Doris Miller Auditorium. More recently, he was a pastor at the
Olivet Baptist Church. He was 83.
The Blues Keep Fading
Can a week go by without a mention of French Smith in this column? It seems
not, and I'm afraid he's gonna get his name trademarked and it's gonna start
costing me. This week sees Smith's Roadstar Attractions out as the
booking agency at the newly reopened La Zona Rosa and an in-house booking
policy replacing it (with some additional roadshow booking by Popular
Productions). Zona co-owner Dallas Haupt cites "lack of communication" as the
primary reason behind the "decision we had to make to get things under
control." He notes, though, that the club intends now to "broaden our horizons"
beyond the "one certain realm of music" that he feels Road-star was booking
into the club. Could that include Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, who
found themselves ping-ponged among the various promoters, before settling on
the originally booked date of this Saturday?
No Zona Roadstar
Former Small Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan has returned home to Austin from
his lengthy road trip with Rod Stewart and is currently spending some time
working on a memoir/autobiography, the title of which will undoubtedly
not be the one I suggest above. One thing is certain: McLagan will be
making sure he deals with a reputable publisher when the book is done, since
the reissues of the old Small Faces albums don't net the band members any
money. As Kent Benjamin, Small Faces-fan-supreme, puts it, "Ian McLagan may
have set a new record as the first Austin musician to have two box sets
released in the same year [one German and one British] that he didn't get paid
for, give permission for, or even receive a free copy of." McLagan completists
will be glad they live in Austin, by the way, as Mac plays on a track on Walter
Tragert's upcoming Heavy Just the Same album, which will likely only be
available in our town and Italy for the time being. Traggert's album will be
released on the Club Du Musique label (yes, it's an Italian label and yes it's
a French name -- don't expect me to be the one who makes sense out of
it) and pretty much the only copies available in America will be those that
Traggert arranges to get sent back here himself. He'll be heading for Italy to
gig there in late November.
He may have taken ill and missed his appearance at SXSW last year, but Texan
Michael Nesmith is apparently neither too ill nor too old to embark on some
serious Monkee business in 1996. Though he chose not to take part in the band's
20th anniversary tour in 1986 (remember the MTV blitz?), and as the heir to the
Liquid Paper fortune is certainly not having any trouble in the cash-flow
department, the November 10 issue of Goldmine confirms that Nesmith
intends to join Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork for the group's 30th
anniversary tour next year. And this will be no small undertaking, either, as a
new album, CD-ROM, and feature film are planned as part of the package, as
well. The presence of the troublemaker of the group (like I said, he's a Texan)
should make for an entertaining year of Monkeedom.
Hmmm. Let's see if we can put a few facts together, shall we? After
Björk's show at Liberty Lunch last Friday, police showed up to investigate
a noise complaint that had come from the Hyatt Hotel earlier that day. At 6pm
that afternoon, Björk had been performing a loud sound check (Steve
Wertheimer said the Icelander's shrieking could be heard all the way down at
the Continental Club!) and Dan Rather had been broadcasting the CBS Evening
News from the balcony of his room at the Hyatt. Saturday's
American-Statesman reports that Rather was worried about a "disco beat"
that might have interfered with his broadcast. Wanna bet Rather, who doesn't
like musicians with less than three names, was the one who called the cops on
What's the Frequency, Björk?
Former Emo's booker Dave Thomson wants to make it very clear to any of you who
may not think that the SXSW Music Conference is "cool" that he's working there
full-time now and is pushing for all you local bands to submit applications and
demo tapes this year -- and with a November 16 deadline (or a November 15
postmark on those sent through the mail), you'd best get to work on it right
away. There's an application elsewhere in this issue if you're planning to go
the mail-in route, and if you're the last-minute type there'll be a big
last-chance get-together at Ruby's BBQ on the 16th, where you can drop your app
off, have a beer, and wash it down with some hot sauce. For further SXSW info,
SXSW Sneaking Closer
Halloween arrivals, other than ghosts, goblins, and Nicole Brown Simpsons,
included both the Stevie Ray Vaughan Greatest Hits album and Jo Carol
Pierce's Bad Girls Afraid of the Truth albums which shipped to stores on
the 31st. Oh, and according to a catalog I saw at I ™ Video, so did the
XXX-rated feature film Beaver and Butthole. Does Mike Judge know about
this?... Not only are Billy White and his drummer Steve Bernal no longer
roommates, they're no longer bandmates either. Bernal has bowed out of the
Billy White band and Brian Walsh, formerly of Soulhat, has stepped in... Tara
Veneruso is looking for people dressed in Day of the Dead garb to come down to
Little City downtown at 8pm tonight (Thursday) and be in her video for Ian
Moore's "Bar Line 99." She can use some "seedy-looking" folks for a scene at
the Electric Lounge next Monday at noon as well... Mercedes Sosa fans take
note: Since there's some big ballgame going on at the same time as her concert
at Bass Hall on the 4th, The PAC has made special parking arrangements for Sosa
ticketholders at the Erwin Center parking lot. Call 471-1444 for more
details...The new Fizz magazine features a piece on the Lord High
Fixers, as well as an article on silkscreening that features Craig Oelrich,
Lindsay Kuhn, and Frank "The Cad" Kozik... Okay, scratch last week's "Coolest
Comment From an Austin Cop" quote. I think the following dialogue, recently
overheard between an officer and a young lady carrying a beer bottle down the
Drag, takes the prize:
Cop: Is that an open container?
Young Lady: Um, yeah, I guess it is.
Cop: You realize that's illegal on this street.
Young Lady: (holding up bottle) It's a Guinness. I'm just on my way down the street to visit some friends, and they all drink Schlitz.
Cop: Oh. Well, go on your way, then.
-- Contributors: Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser