Dancing About Architecture

Hey, Buddy! Ya Got a Light?

Smooth Jazz. The name alone is enough to make you shiver. It sounds like something on a CD you get from sending a 100 cigarette bucks to Joe Camel. But no, it's actually the latest entry into the strangely progressive world of Austin radio. Last Thursday night, Luci Baines Johnson started off an evening at Top of the Marc with handshakes, ended it with free T-shirts, and in between, via an "Extemporaneous Speaking 101" speech, announced that the LBJ radio empire was knocking out the money-losing oldies station they owned at 93.3 FM and starting up -- that very night -- a New Adult Contemporary station on that frequency. They get points for secrecy: having managed to set up the whole deal without anyone getting wind of it ahead of time; and for positioning: choosing to take the jazzy half of KGSR's mix -- which they dumped early on -- rather than go head to head with them and play the same stuff they still play. Consultant Fred Schmidt did an admirable job of clearly describing what the station will and won't be, saying that there would be no "new age" music because "that's too sedate for Austin," and that the dominant type of artists you'll hear on KAJZ will be the likes of George Benson, Earl Klugh, Chuck Mangione and Steely Dan (to pick the most "household name" acts he mentioned). Schmidt stated that the station would place an emphasis on Texas artists (Yeah, I know they all say that, but I have to report it anyway, don't I?) like the Brew, Beto y los Fairlanes, Karan Chavis, Tomas Ramirez (who, with Michael Mordecai, opened the evening's festivities) and Kyle Turner, to the extent of "get[ting] them on playlists around the country." We'll see whether or not that happens (invited guest Jon Blondell says he's reserving judgement until he finds out "if they play my stuff") and whether the new station manages to snatch a sizable portion of the audience in Austin's already-clogged radio market. Big boss Michael Crusham, late of the Disney Corporation, calls Smooth Jazz the only "uncontested" format, with "virtually no competition" in the market. Official "grand opening" type festivities for the station will start in January. `Til then, the new 93.3 will simply move quietly -- and smoothly -- along.

Deluxe of de Draw

It'll be an "all-out battle," December 8 at Emo's when the Fuck Emos and Sixteen Deluxe play together there and try to settle their long-time grudge (mutual distaste, from what I can figure), according to one member of the latter band. Also in the near future for the 16ers, look for two new singles: one with their version of Kim Wilde's "Kids in America" on Propeller Records, and the other a split single with Medicine on Misha, a subsidiary of No Life (not to be confused with No Lie) Records. Also, there's talk of a possible tour with X, including a New Year's Eve show at the Hollywood Palladium.

Now how long has it been since I mentioned former Deluxe drummer Bryan Bowden? Well, that's too long. A member of the back-from-touring Wannabes recounted to me a recent harrowing ride across the Brooklyn Bridge with Bowden (barely) at the wheel. When they reached their destination, a cool neighborhood bar that he wanted to show off to them, Bowden pointed out Jon Spencer of Blues Explosion fame and told the 'bes that he'd introduce them to him, but Spencer spotted him first and performed the standard, "Uh, hi, Bryan" mumble and backing away movement that is now becoming practically a cliché in the Big Apple.

All That Jazz

In other jazz news, a press release that counts itself as equal parts "notice of our suspension of operations" and "plea for support," from the DiverseArts Production Group -- presenters of the Clarksville-West End Jazz Festival, Blues Family Tree Project, Women in Jazz Concert Series, etc. -- has announced suspension of its operations. If you've followed the long French Smith serial running in Dancing About Architecture over the course of the last few months (Soon to be a major motion picture written by Bill Crawford and directed by Robert Rodriguez!) you know that last year's Jazz Fest lost money, with Diverse Arts' Harold McMillan pointing to Smith's concurrent Cajun Fest as a major reason behind the loss. Well, Music Commission head Smith is now former music commission head Smith, but unsuccessful fundraising projects and DiverseArts' impending eviction from their home-base at the Wooten Building (due to renovation plans) have forced a temporary interruption of the production group's day-to-day operations. Still, the group insist, "We do not expect the interruption to be permanent," and that plans call for the above mentioned events, including a "down-sized" Clarksville fest, to take place as usual in 1996, with a Blues Family Tree CD set for release on Antone's Records as well. (Then again, I continue to hear that Antone's Records may not be around for much longer, either...)

Back Rumors

Trust me, I've been sparing you a lot of the endless conflicting rumors that have been flying regarding the future of the Back Room. There are some actual facts available regarding the club, however, so here's the latest installment of the BR saga: Manager Mark Olivarez, after telling me last week that he would be sharing booking responsibilities with owner Ronnie Roark, has now quit that part of the business altogether, leaving Roark to book all the club's shows. There's also talk of remodeling the stage-side part of the bar and pool hall venue and between the two changes, we'll have to wait and see how the transition goes.

I'm So S'orry

Terence Trent D'arby was in the full prima donna form reserved for those who put apostrophes in the middle of their names when he came to Liberty Lunch last week, I hear. First, he balked at doing any advance press work for the show, and then extended his uncooperative nature to the club itself. The Sixties cover tune king (What? You mean those songs are originals?) at one point demanded that no alcohol be served at the show and at the same time threw a hissy fit (actually his tour manager threw it for him) when he found that the club couldn't legally supply him with the expensive booze that he wanted in his limo (TABC, for once I like you). The show apparently went off just fine, though, with a large number of industry/press types in attendance. My guess is that they were hoping to witness D'Arby pulling an I'm-a-Big-Star move.

Ohms' Hopping Network

I haven't been to Ohms in probably a couple of years, since witnessing an incredibly lame
S/M show there (later, a friend of mine tried to liven things up at one of the shows by slicing himself up a bit and was told "Hey! Cut that out! You can't do that here!"), but you can bet you'll see me there this coming Monday. That's when the Emergency Broadcast Network will be bringing their multimedia extravaganza to that venue. Imagine Negativland with pictures, or all the televisions in the world playing directly into your brain at once, and you get the idea behind EBN. Complete with revolving, laser-spouting telepodium, beaty rave and hip-hop-style music, a satellite dish-
turned-TV screen mounted on their all-purpose vehicle, and actual video "scratching" performed live during the show, EBN take entertainment to its farthest logical progression for a short-attention-span, instant gratification-oriented society. Not to mention they guarantee video "appearances" by the likes of William Shatner (the one true god of overactors) and Dan Rather, who I try to mention in this column every damn week.

Mixed Notes

Reverb Records has announced that they will not be renewing their contract with E.R. Shorts, citing "excessive losses in revenue and irreconcilable differences" as the reason. What they mean is that he's got one of those "musician problems," but they don't want to talk about it and cause a fuss... The CD release for KGSR's Broadcasts Vol. 3 is at Waterloo Records on the 27th at 5pm, with the first 214 copies sold coming with invitations to their big 5th anniversary party on December 1 with Los Lobos, Shawn Colvin, Sonny Landreth and special guests... And speaking of broadcasting, it's probably better late than never to point out that Andy Langer's been handling the Sunday night-Monday morning midnight-5am Overnite shift on KUT -- not to be confused with his nine month embarassment/experiment at KUTZ (Z-Rock)... Did I mention that Velvet Hammer's live album is out? Or that they'll be live as well, on KLBJ's Local Licks Live, from 11pm-12am next Tuesday?... Son Volt have an in-store performance at Waterloo set for next Wednesday at 5pm... That new Fear album on Sector Two is out as of now. Entitled Have Another Beer With Fear, the disc features the songs "I Believe I'll Have Another Beer," "Drink Some Beer," Beerfight," and "Free Beer," and makes me feel like going out a... That's all for Dancing About Architecture this week. Everybody's busy gearing up for the Thanksgiving weekend, including me, so bundle up and I'll see you next issue. n

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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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