The Austin Chronicle

Excuse Me, Sir, We'd Just Like to Ask You a Few Questions...

January 12, 1996, Music

It's that time of year again, and the Chronicle's Music Poll kicks into full swing this week with the ballot you'll find on page 9 of this issue. You've got until February 2 to vote for your fave blues bands, rock bands, albums, hall-of-famers, and one-armed Celtic/Lithuanian trombonists (I made that last one up), by just mailing the thing in or you can drop the ballot by our office. This of course leads up to the Austin Music Awards, Wednesday, March 13.

You can use either of the above options or you can visit our Web site (http://www.auschron.

com/feedback/musicreg/) to get your band listed in our annual Musicians' Register, but the deadline on that is January 26, so you'd better get cookin' (Oh, yeah, you're thinking "They'll end up extending it," but the joke's on you -- we already have. It was originally January 12.) So get your entry filled out and sent in and remember these two things: You can pay $25 to get a neat picture put with your listing (the listing itself is free) and heed my words, if you go over the 35-word maximum, we'll have Roky Erickson write you a new one.

Sorry, Charlie...

...but all the hopes in the world couldn't push Under the Wishing Tree up the charts. Yes, folks, Charlie Sexton (along with his Sextet) has been dropped by MCA Records for the second time. You may recall that the Wishing Tree album was released last year at SXSW time and received a lackluster review from the Chronicle's Andy Langer. A battle royal ensued, with Sexton's manager Tim Neece accosting Langer at a Lucinda Williams show the night after the piece ran. Neece accused Langer of dissing the record for personal reasons, rather than for its merits and faults. Well, the album bombed and Sexton's off the label, and it's not because of one bad review. An MCA rep, when asked about the sales of Wishing Tree, didn't have an exact figure handy, but when asked if it had hit the 30,000 mark nationally, said that it was doubtful. And this was after a decent job of promotion by the record company. Simply put, people just plain didn't like the album. So you see, Tim, when it comes down to it, what matters is not whether a reviewer has good taste -- it's whether or not what's on the tuner tastes good.

Hey, Joe, Whatcha Readin'?

Music trivia king Kent Benjamin passed along a copy of a 1966 Harvard Lampoon parody of Playboy that he borrowed from Art Fein, and in it is a (fake?) ad for an album entitled The Harvard Lampoon Tabernacle Choir Sings at Leningrad Stadium, which includes a song called "I Keep My Fingernails Long So They'll Click When I Play the Piano." Hmmm... Sure enough, Joe Ely confirms
that his own song by that title dates back to the days of the Flatlanders, when Jimmie Dale Gilmore saw the line in "something like a Mad magazine" and couldn't get it out of his head. The line became a regular joke among the band and then the title of the Jerry Lee Lewis-styled song that Ely is perhaps best known for (& JLL himself recorded last year).

Questions have been arising as to whether Ely will be joining Bruce Springsteen onstage during his upcoming visit to Austin, but Ely's publicist Lance Cowan can only say that so far, the Boss has not formally asked him to perform. It wouldn't be a surprise if he did, though, as Ely will be in town on the 25th, the first day of a rumored but unconfirmed two-night Spring-stand at the Austin Music Hall. Cowan says Ely will be jetting back to Austin the morning after a Letterman appearance on the 24th, and that Joe definitely plans to spend some time visiting with Bruce. The two have been buddies for a while, since Ely fan Springsteen first joined the Lord of Lubbock onstage in Dublin two years ago and joined in on a batch of Joe's songs. And yes, that night they did perform "Fingernails."

Bouncing Babies and
Rolling Heads

The Headhunters were recently axed from their Wednesday residency at Joe's Generic Bar, with club management telling them it was because they were too loud and the club had been receiving noise citations. The band says they received no noise complaints from a recent show at "bleeding ears central" (Emo's) and singer/harpist Randall Stockton postulates that maybe the real reason they were bounced from Joe's is "because we don't play Stevie Ray Vaughan."

The members of John Cougar Rabinowitz, meanwhile, are crying because, at their day-after-Christmas appearance at Steamboat, their lead guitarist's wife and six-month-old baby were not allowed to enter the club. "I know about [the club's policy about not allowing children and infants]," says singer Mike Jasper, "but the baby was clearly with the band. It's not like he just walked in off the street." (I know this smacks of a slow news week, but I thought that it made for an amusing mental image -- and besides, by the age of six months, any Austin kid should already be in a band).

Splitting the Kitty

Peter Turner at the new Split Rail (Seventh & Red River) says he's booking bands now, with plans to open the club's doors next Thursday, though he says co-owner Paul Sessums might start things up sooner "for the hell of it." The Black Cat owner, Sessums, who will be running the club Sundays through Wednesdays, just finished up the last of the rigamarole involved in getting a beer and wine license, and with a liquor store across the street, the club will also be going the "set-ups" route. That should go well with Turner's plans for Thursdays through Saturdays, as he intends to book "swing, lounge, alternative country -- stuff people can dance to." Call him at 474-2344. Sessums, he says, will be bringing in an "eclectic" mix of acts on his nights, and since you know how he is with phones, I suggest you try to get in touch with him in person at the Rail or at the Black Cat.

Mixed Notes

The first meeting for former SXSW volunteers who want to do it again this year is at Liberty Lunch next Tuesday, January 16 at 7pm. I'll give you info on the call for new volunteers next week... I know you've read the name Janis Joplin often enough this issue, but: Janis Joplin Slept Here director Tara Veneruso will be debuting both her video for Ian Moore's "Bar Line 99" and her new short film, Johnny Rock, about the death of a fictional rock god, at Antone's this Sunday at 7:30pm. If you don't like Bob Schneider, you'll especially want to come, since Johnny Rock features him biting the ol' curb a number of times as the lead character. Also in the film are tons and tons of local scenesters. In fact, Tara's general rule for admission is: if you were involved in any way with either of the productions or know someone who was, you get in free. If not (where were you?) the cover is three bucks... Uh, oh, I'm in danger of turning this into a film column now: Desperado director Robert Rodriguez is said to be talking to Jimmie Vaughan to executive produce the Caught in the Crossfire movie. That won't happen until after -- well, I'll refer you over you our real film column, "Short Cuts," for more about that... Rule number one for industrial bands: You can never have enough side projects. Look soon for Choreboy, the side project of SkateNigs Phil Owen, Chris Gates, and Matt Mitchell to make their debut on Triple X Records, with production by Gibby Haynes... The latest chaos at 101X has their evening slot up for grabs. Top contenders are Raydog and former "Gibby's gone out for smokes" announcer Sean. Rumor has it that the two will be timed with a stopwatch and the job will go to the one who can cram the most penis jokes into a minute... One show that has been confirmed for the Austin Music Hall is Tracy Chapman on February 2. Tickets go on sale today (Thursday) via STAR ticket outlets... A rep for American Records says that they can't say for sure until next week, but it seems like a done deal that New York's Crown Heights is to be an American band. Crown Heights, if you recall, features former Sixteen Deluxe drummer Bryan Bowden. When asked for a comment on the signing, one Deluxe member made dry-heaving motions and mumbled "I can't believe he beat us!"... Asleep at the Wheel (Grammy nominated again, blah, blah, blah) will be performing an in-store at Waterloo Records next Tuesday at 5pm. They'll be doing a benefit show for the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve that night at the Hang 'em High Saloon... Ed Hall drummer Lyman Hardy announced this week that the band is not breaking up, despite unabated rumors to the contrary. The band will be performing more shows "unmasked," however, as they did this last Saturday's Emo's show... Regular attendees of the annual pre-SXSW "Hacks and Flaks" party will be sad to note that co-organizer Carol Schutzbank, of Philadelphia's B-side magazine, passed away on December 19 following a heart transplant operation. This year's "Hacks and Flaks" (3/13) will be a benefit for her hospital bills, and Jack Logan, who will be releasing a new album next week, will be performing. Logan's last release garnered critical raves across the board... Live at the Blue Flamingo may not be the most hi-fi album you've ever heard, but if you don't grab one soon, you may never know. The Satans, Motards, Peenbeets, Hormones, Paranoids, Chumps, Stretford, and Inhalants (covering "Busy Kids") are all on the limited-edition vinyl LP. And it comes with a cool booklet, too. Best bet for finding a copy would be Sound Exchange... Another 12-inch vinyl product is the new album by local experi mental soundsters Ultrasound*Woonsocket, who've released a limited edition of 550 copies "in personalized hand-assembled sleeves." The record is out now, and a release party will follow in February... The new Goldmine (1/19), with the Elvis cover, features a two-pager on Joe Ely. And I see from an ad in the back that the Australian version of the Stevie Ray Vaughan "best of" album contains extra tracks. Collectors, start your engines... Ginchy afternoon show at Emo's starting at 3pm this Sunday: Performing will be Earthpig & Fire, Ant Man Bee, Power Squid, Clutch 5, Wookie, Swine King, and Sixteen Deluxe. This will be Swine King's last show so do not miss it! There will also be puppets... Oops: Well, I know how to spell Fontella Bass, but somebody along the line last week must've thought they were smarter than me, because the printed column ended up referring to "Fantella" Bass, which I think is some kind of large-finned tropical fish...

-- Contributors: Chris Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser, Tim Stegall

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