Club Comings and Goings

Rumors have been flying about another club's demise, and this time it's the Back Room, whose doors are said to be closing so that a Tejano club can open. Owner Ronnie Roark could not be reached for comment, but his wife Lisha Roark told the Chronicle that she thinks the rumors are coming from employees upset with the fact that the venue has trimmed their live music week down to Thursday through Saturday. Lisha says that "Ronnie's had the Back Room for 20 years and probably intends to keep it for another 20. He's had it longer than he's had me!" Manager Mark Oliveras concurs with Roark. "I'm not aware [of] any special plans for the Back Room," he says. "As far as I'm concerned it's biz as usual."

You know the rules: anytime I discuss a club's possible closing, there's always a new one ready to open. This time, it's one with the pre-used name the Split Rail, and it should be opening at 705 Rio Grande, former home of Cowboys, Kilimanjaro, the Cave Club, and about a dozen others. Now, when I say that Paul Sessums is half-owner in this venture, I'm sure you're all flipping to the cover to see if this is our April Fools' issue, but no, it's not. Co-owner Peter Turner, public-access talk-show host and former employee of both the Continental Club and Liberty Lunch, assures me that the lease has been signed and that the club will be open as soon as the beer license comes through, which should be sometime in the next six weeks. Sessums will book the venue Mondays through Wednesdays, and Turner will handle Thursdays through Saturdays, with an emphasis on "alternative country" groups, plus roots and lounge acts. More on this one when (if?) it opens.

Last Chance Scenario

Okay, kids, this is it. I won't be telling you again that next Thursday, November 16, is the absolute deadline to apply for your band to play next March's SXSW Music Conference. On that day, you'll want to take your demo tape, press packet (such as it is) and $15 over to Ruby's BBQ between 6pm and midnight and fill out an application. The SXSW staff are still being secretive about what big-name acts will be playing next year's conference, as nobody's yet close to confirmed, but I can tell you that some pretty heavy acts have expressed interest in performing. And if the multimedia folks at the conference have been paying any attention to my demands that a certain subversive group from Providence, Rhode Island, be asked to perform, there's gonna be a helluva time over in that part of the festival.

Return of the Cherubs?

Longtime Trance Syndicate act the Cherubs will be reuniting to make a fourth album for the label after a long absence. Singer/guitarist Keith Whitley, currently living in Minneapolis, was down in Austin for a week's visit, during which plans were made for recording new material. The Trance crew confirm that the band is "threatening to" get back together, rehearsing via four-track tapes sent through the mail before assembling to record an album due out next year. A CD of "old stuff" is also planned for release in April, while the Cherubs remain alive in the record racks via the split single with the Fuck Emos (the Cherubs' "I Want Candy" and the Fucks' "Do You Wanna Dance") that Trance released a couple of weeks ago. There's also loose talk of a possible Cherubs show in Austin in early '96. Also in the maybe stages upcoming from Trance is a CD from Sweetpea.

Butthole Surfer Watch

Well, somebody's gotta keep an eye on the Buttholes, cuz you can't do it yourself, now can ya? The latest word is that the basic tracks for 13 new songs have been laid down at Bearsville Studios in New York, and that the band will be heading back up in a couple of weeks for mixing. Drummer King Coffey, back in town keeping his Trance Syndicate empire together (see above), says that he's surprised that things came together so fast. The album, produced by famed mixer Steve Thompson (who also mixed the "Who Was in My Room Last Night" single) still has no title, though there's talk of a cover featuring drag queens and naked people. Like that's a surprise?

Tricky Dickies

Wow! If I'd known that Leonard Graves Phillips of the incredible Dickies was going to pop in to Lovejoy's while I was running my weekly Cartoon Fest (shameless self-promotion: 5-7pm, no cover, Happy Hour prices), I would've made sure to have had some Gigantor episodes on the bill (actually, I'm told the whole band was there at some point, but I don't know what the new guys look like and I definitely didn't see guitarist Stan Lee.) If you missed the Dickies show at Emo's last Saturday night, don't fret. Phillips promised that the band, which took 17 years to get to Austin for the first time, would be back "in the year 2000."

XL Ouch!

The Austin American-Statesman's mascot, a giant, winged rodent named Rex L. Bat, was beaten up by the Texas Tech band during the game last Saturday after he (it?) taunted them -- as mascots are paid to do -- during the course of the competition. From what I hear, the bat (like the kind under the Congress Street Bridge, not like in baseball) costume which cost $12,000 to make, was heavily damaged.

With a name like Rex L. Bat, it's obvious that the Statesman is trying to plug their weekly XL ent. supplement, and I think they've been going about it all wrong. Now, it seems, it's finally time for me to suggest to XL ent. that they adopt the mascots I think they should've had from the beginning; the lovable, demographics-friendly "XL Ants"! Seen here, these two hip twentysomething Formicidae (Jen X. and Thor X.) are the perfect pair to show their young, style-conscious readers that XL ent. really does have the "insect-inside" scoop on the things that really "raise their antennae!"

Police Blotter

Following the ongoing saga, the postering charge against the Flamingo Cantina never even made it to the judge. The Assistant D.A. refused to prosecute because no one had actually been caught putting up the poster. Gee, maybe the system does work... Speaking of the Law, Lt. Gerald Rains of the APD will be retiring on November 25, a move which has the Austin Music Commission, among others, a bit uneasy. Rains, a Lieutenant with the Mounted Patrol, has been considered somewhat of a liaison between the police and the Sixth Street music community, and is in fact the officer that we at the Chronicle usually contact for information when matters musical meet matters legal. As far as whether Rains' replacement will be more or less sympathetic to the music scene remains unknown: "No appointment [to the position] has been made" says Rains.

Mixed Notes

Check out the November SPIN for a nice big page on Sixteen Deluxe dominated by a really great picture that was shot by someone who doesn't work for the Chronicle... The folk-themed November 11 edition of Billboard, rating venues for acoustic music around the country, singled out the Cactus Cafe as being among the 15 best such locales in the country (I would think the competition was even tougher than it might seem considering they were up against a lot of places where you can smoke)... I should also mention that Billboard named KLBJ-FM their "Rock Station of the Year" for 1995, but this'll be the fourth time they've taken that award in eight years so, like, by this time it's no big deal, right?... The Merchants of Venus have returned from a four-month hiatus with a new singer. Look for them back at their old last-Wednesday-of-the-month spot at the Carousel Lounge and elsewhere... Bob Mould was spotted at Mike Watt's show at Liberty Lunch a couple weeks ago, but no, he didn't join in the onstage activities. I thought Watt had the power to get anyone to play in his band... In-stores this week include Carla Olson at Waterloo Records on Friday at 5pm, plugging her new "best of" album, Wave of the Hand, and the Rugburns, also at Waterloo, next Tuesday at 5pm. Over at Local Flavor, Generic Guru are playing Saturday at 3pm. As always, in-stores are a great way to see a free show, get free refreshments, and if you don't like the band, you can always start your Christmas shopping... The Jesus Christ Superfly van finally gave up the ghost while the band was on tour, so they're holding a benefit next Tuesday at the Flamingo Cantina (and another at the Electric Lounge on the 22nd) for repair or replacement costs. Bring your spare money and help the guys out (I know, I know: Just exactly what is "spare" money?)... Old fans of New Sincerity will want to check out the debut of a new band featuring Larry Seaman (Standing Waves, et al.) and Kim Longacre (Reivers) opening for Javelin Boot at the Hole in the Wall this Friday. The band will be heading into the studio with another former Reiver, John Croslin, at the controls next week... Resurrection of the Warlock, that T. Rex tribute album I mentioned with Buick MacKane doing "Country Honey" on it, is now out. Among others on the 20-song disc are Mekons spinoff The Three Johns, and the now-defunct Dramarama's last recorded song... I popped in on one of the video shoots for Ian Moore's "Bar Line 99," a "peep show" dive assembled within the Electric Lounge (actually I was called in as a consultant on how to get one of those Sixties blobby light effect thingies to work right -- don't ask me why). It looked pretty impressive, especially since it's Moore himself who's having to finance the thing out of pocket. I'm told that Capricorn Records aren't much into paying for their acts' video clips. Be patient, guys, I think one day those things will really catch on...

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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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