The Year in Rock, Austin Style

Musical Happenings, Celeb Sightings, and Boars

by Margaret Moser

Looking for the bad

and the dishy in 1995? Well, you'll have to look at the previous year because 1995 was much less scandalous than previous years - no fights backstage at the Awards show with Ministry, Gibby Haynes behaved himself admirably, and Kelly Willis stayed out of the tabloids. In fact, the most notorious events of the year musically were also the most tragic.

JANUARY's annual Graceland Revue at the Continental and the Oasis show at Liberty Lunch were signs that it was going to be a good year here for local and touring shows. And it was. That was good, because a major TABC sweep struck fear into clubs, especially Emo's, who was heavily fined for serving to a minor.

As soon as FEBRUARY began, the Cramps ripped up the Lunch and Sue Foley released the stellar Big City Blues. Don Walser dropped Al Jourgensen's name while appearing on The Nashville Network's Music City Tonight and Monte Warden danced with the Cookie Monster at the Erwin Center. But as usual, it wasn't until SXSW in MARCH that things picked up. Joe Ely broke his hip and shoulder, forcing him to cancel his SXSW showcase. Several versions of how he came to be injured circulated, but only one made it into urban legend. Jimmie Vaughan walked off with well-deserved top honors at the Austin Music Awards and SXSW attracted plenty of celebs: at the Soul Asylum show, we gawked at MTV's Tabitha Soren and singer-songwriter Victoria Williams chatting each other up, while straining for signs of Winona Ryder in between bumping into Dominic from The Real World.

The cruel news of the murder of Selena in APRIL was no joke and ironically gave the Tejano singing star the national exposure for which she was already poised. Not needing more exposure were Johnny Depp and Kate Moss who were nevertheless spotted at the Continental Club during Easter. MAY flowered with big names and shows. An all-star Stevie Ray Vaughan Tribute headed up by Jimmie Vaughan was filmed at Austin City Limits' studio, and featured B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt, and Robert Cray. The Eagles, meanwhile, brought their wretched excess to Memorial Stadium, creating questions about the random enforcement of local sound ordinances and philosophical discussions about noise pollution.

In JUNE, 101X blasted onto the airwaves with Gibby Haynes and writer/scenester Robbie Jacks on their morning show, ex-Chron music critic/terror Michael Corcoran returned to Austin in corporate guise at the Statesman, Filter lied about why they canceled their Emo's gig (supposedly, the lead singer had "strep," but doubts about whether or not his head could fit on the Emo's stage were more likely), and Pearl Jam cancelled its long-awaited Austin date.

JULY was hot, hot, hot, as the fledgling 101X bowed to the pressure of conformity and dumped Gibby and Robbie off their much-touted morning show, ushering in the sniggering, double-entendre format so popular there now. Celeb-sightings that month included Sean Penn serenading Jewel (at the time he was "talking" to her about filming a video, but soon the buxom blonde became his, eh, squeeze).

The dog days of AUGUST were suitable for Courtney Love during her Lollapalooza dates here. Her purse was stolen at Emo's during L7's surprise gig there (as K9), and she terrorized local businesses by "shopping," and announced Jerry Garcia to be "in the moon with Kurt." Onstage at Southpark Meadows she declared "Jason Cohen, you are not forgiven," an oblique reference to the Chronicle contributor's Rolling Stone cover story on her band. Then she pulled a no-show at her private post-Palooza party at Emo's. That brief wind the day after Lolla left was the collective sigh of relief breathed by Austinites when Love's plane took off. Buck Owens showed up at his annual Continental Club tribute and spent a bit of time chastely speaking with Kelly Willis. When Ken Lieck made a joke about the non-incident in his column, Toni Price "fired" the Chronicle staff (though we're still collecting paychecks!). The binoculars on the celeb-sighting team shattered as Brad Pitt started hanging around town mysteriously, amid rumors that he was interested in playing Stevie Ray Vaughan on the silver screen.

SEPTEMBER saw Mr. and Mrs. Julia Roberts reunite briefly at The Backyard, where Mr. Robe - er, Lovett was performing, and where they were reportedly quite friendly. Less friendly were the narcotics officers who busted the Ministry compound in Marble Falls, charging bandmembers Al Jourgensen and Mike Scaccia with possession of heroin. The compound had suffered extensive flood damage earlier in the year, and between the two incidents, the Ministry gang packed up and moved back to Chicago. Pearl Jam finally made up their Austin date, though many preferred their opening act, some band called The Ramones.

When OCTOBER rolled in, Michael Corcoran packed it up and moved back to Dallas, while still maintaining his position at the Statesman. The daily newspaper's message is clear: You don't have to live here to write about Austin music! Meanwhile, Antone's presented its most treasured show of the year, uniting swamp pop legends King Karl and Guitar Gable again. Local promoter French Smith resigned as head of the Austin Music Commission amid rumors of ill health and conflict of interest while Emilio Estevez failed to topple Brad Pitt as Best Celeb Sighting of the Year, and Dah-Veed's tour as opener for Blind Melon was cut short in New Orleans when their lead singer Shannon Hoon ODed on the tour bus.

NOVEMBER started out none too great, because while the Antone's Records label didn't go under, the majority of its staffers were laid off - always a pleasant way to enter the holidays. Dan Rather played Grinch later that month though, griping to the police about Björk's loud sound check at Liberty Lunch, which he heard from Hyatt digs. The P record (Gibby Haynes' side band with Johnny Depp, Bill Carter, and Sal Jenco) was finally released to deafening silence, while Austin's Sixteen Deluxe made it into Spin as one of the "pick" bands of the year.

In DECEMBER, 101X released the oft-absent Gibby Haynes from his deejay duties, just as morning team jocks Jane and Ernie barricaded themselves in the studios until MTV's The Real World agreed to come to Austin. This nifty little PR stunt got the attention of Kurt Loder, who phoned up to acknowledge their action. 101X then replaced the two in the a.m. slot the Friday before Christmas.

Symbolically enough, 1995 was "The Year of the Boar," and, yawn, it sure was. We now look forward to 1996, "The Year of the Rat."

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