Dancing About Architecture

Let's Start Off With a (Mag) Neato Story (Ville)

Signings seem to be in a rare abundance these days. For one thing, Miles Zuniga and company have finally let out the news: Magneto USA have inked a deal with Hollywood Records, a subsidiary of the Disney corporation. The majority of the big guns behind Hollywood, which had long been a laughingstock of the record biz, have been ousted, and only a couple of their previously signed bands (notably Queen, their only real moneymaker) remain on the roster. Meanwhile, the Austin popsters are among those acts picked by a presumably smarter regime at Hollywood to record for the label. Magneto will be doing some preproduction work this week, as well as an Electric Lounge gig on the 9th, before heading to (duh!) Hollywood to begin recording. Plans call for the band's first album for the label to be completed in December and released around April. (Locals plum report that a band by the same name was recently signed by Hollywood as well, but faced with the Austin act's proof of trademark, the other band changed their name).

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...


The Incredible Shrinking Antone's

"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 Blues Keep Fading

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.


No Zona Roadstar

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?


Facing Backwards?

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.


Hey, Hey!

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.


What's the Frequency, Björk?

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 Björk?


SXSW Sneaking Closer

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, call 467-7979.


Mixed Notes

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

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More Dancing About Architecture
Dancing About Architecture
Dancing About Architecture
The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."

Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

So Long, Slug
So Long, Slug

Ken Lieck, Dec. 20, 2002

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