Oddballs In the Round

Austin has always been a combination breeding ground and beacon for eccentrics, but of late it seems that things have been somewhat quiet on that front. Well, something must be in the air, because within the last week, I haven't been able to swing a nutria without slamming into news of activity from some of our most beloved lives from off-center. For instance, MCA/Fort Apache has worked out a deal to properly re-release the lone album by late rock critic Lester Bangs, recorded with Austin's Delinquents during the Raul's era, says ex-Delinquent Brian Curley. Curley's current band the Soulbenders are also talking with Fort Apache, and since he also played with Roky Erickson's Evil Hook Wildlife E.T., you probably know where I'm headed next.

Yes, it also looks like Roky's live music career may be set for a revival. As you probably know, the performance schedule for the former Thirteenth Floor Elevator has been somewhat erratic of late -- with Erickson showing up to perform a song or two with various acts around once or twice a year -- but current word is that a band is forming and working slowly but surely with Roky towards getting it together full-time. Right now, I can only tell you that some former Swine King and Dicks members will be among those backing the Rokker. Or at least hoping to.

Now, you're thinking, there must be some word from the long-quiet Daniel Johnston front. Right you are. It has seemed for a long time that since the release of 1994's Fun album, Atlantic Records has been content to say he was on their label but not actually release any music from him; a pair of songs recorded this last February have been the only progress towards a followup release. That drought ended this week with Brian Beattie and his portable studio venturing up to Johnston's home (he lives with his parents in Waller, Texas, these days) with Craig Ross and the Rhythm Rats in tow. Plans call for Beattie to continue making such visits in the near future, and Johnston cites the names of most every band he's recorded with in the past as being possible guests on the upcoming recordings. That's a mighty hot list, with Johnston specifically mentioning the Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth, and Yo La Tengo among those who have been spoken to about the project. He also says that his manager is in the process of contacting no less than Pearl Jam about contributing. While Johnston may be well known for his -- shall we say -- fertile imagination, keep in mind that Eddie Vedder has been known to perform a Johnston song or two on occasion before stadiums full of people. Johnston adds that while he'd been feeling like he was running out of songs (this from someone with more notebooks crammed full of lyrics than Austin has chicken-fried steak specials), he's taken cues from some recent not-for-release sessions he conducted with Ethan Azarian of the Orange Mothers and yours truly. Just jamming with Beattie and Ross has made him confident about his next Atlantic effort.

Deluxe Accomodations

Sixteen Deluxe tell me that last year, when they were considering going into business with Atlantic Records, they were approached about the possibility of backing Johnston, and now that they've put pen to paper with Warner Bros. as of last Friday, that still makes them part of the WEA (Warner-Elektra-Atlantic) stable. Atlantic take note. Actually, the 16D'ers don't have time to think about that matter right now as they're preparing for their first tour as a major label act, kicking things off tonight (Thursday) with a bye-bye gig at the Electric Lounge (7% Solution and Orange Mothers are also on the bill). If anyone has a record deal they can't complain about -- and I don't mean because it's in the contract that they can't complain about it -- it's 16D. They're hoping to have copies of their completed Genius Records 12-inch, The Pilot Knob EP, on the road with them and in stores some time in November, and even after they record their big WB debut in December, they still have full freedom to put out singles and effluvia on indie labels at will. Bass player Jeff Copas says things are looking more and more favorable towards having John Croslin produce the album, since both the band and the label are pleased by his previous work with the band.

One person feeling a little less than pleased right now is Superego guitarist Jacob Schulze, who last Sunday played his final gig with that band prior to taking the roadie position with 16D. (Andrew Duplantis returned to the Superego fold that night after parting amicably with Bob Mould). Super-man Paul Minor says that while trading insults from the stage with an audience member named Nora, Schulze informed the former Californicate that her kind was doing nothing but "raising our rents and clogging Mopac," to which she replied with a threat to break his nose after the show if he continued. He did, and she did. Minor notes, "He was wearing glasses!"

Mixed Notes

Anybody see 120 Minutes on MTV last Sunday? I didn't, but Britt Daniel told me that the Spoon video was slated to play. Assuming it did, we'll see if that exposure brings the band's Telefono to the fore of Austin's shoulda-been-big summer alternative releases... The Austin Record Convention is this weekend at Palmer Auditorium! Whee! ... There's a big benefit for Walter Tragert this Friday at the Hole In the Wall. Tragert is currently at Johns Hopkins awaiting very expensive treatment for a bipolar disorder, but is said to have an excellent prognosis. The list of players is beyond covering here, but the Wannabes, Cotton Mather, Amberjack Rice, and Beaver Nelson are among those donating their services... Stubb's BBQ is presenting the Guy Forsyth Band, W.C. Clark Blues Revue, Gospel Stars, and Jake Andrews at the Sierra Club's art auction/benefit for the Blue Skies Initiative this Friday... El Flaco have an opening gig for the P-Funk All-Stars in Arizona on November 6, says David Brichler at Lone Wolf Productions. As far as Lone Wolf's other young act, Pushmonkey, people are wondering: Since they opened for Kiss at the Alamodome awhile back, will they be taking the same spot at the face-painted four's Erwin Center show? "Done that," sniffs Brichler... Are the Furry Things pets or meat? Either way, they pulled a scene right out of Roger and Me on their just-finished tour; when they arrived for their gig in Flint, Michigan, they found that the club they were supposed to play had shut down... Blort will be celebrating their "Dance of the Mutants" single on Morning Star this Friday at the Blue Flamingo with Pleasure Unit and Gas Pedal... Jesus Christ Superfly have their last show of the year -- and final gig with drummer Steve Sandon -- this Friday at Emo's, playing between Tallboy and Loudspeaker. JCS are currently working on an EP with producer John Croslin and are awaiting the release of Scooch Pooch's Original Sins compilation, which includes re-presentations of their and Gomez's singles for the label... The Gourds are doing well on Waterloo Records' chart, with their new Dem's Good Beeble on Munich America placing at Number 3 last week, and now they're heading off to show the rest of the world. They'll be doing a mini-tour of the U.S. including a stop at the Philadelphia Music Conference, and November begins with them flying to Holland for Oor magazine's alternative music festival... Add this footnote to last week's Police Blotter: Electric Lounge's Dave Thomson says that while the Atom Smashers were nervously awaiting the arrival of their tardy bass player, he spotted the young man outside the club with some police officers. Worried that the cops were hassling the guy, Thomson hopped out to see what was going on. Turns out the bassist's vehicle had been hit and disabled by a drunk driver and when the officers asked him if he needed to be taken to a hospital, he replied "I don't have time! I've got a gig!" The protect-and-servers promptly loaded up his amp and instrument and taxied him to the show... This Monday saw USA Today ask the musical question "Is the world ready for dueling Janis Joplin movies?" TriStar Pictures, it turns out, has a Joplin family-authorized biopic in the works with Lili Taylor starring, while Paramount Pictures/Lakeshore Entertainment sports Melissa Etheridge in the starring role of their flick, written by Julie Cypher, Etheridge's romantic partner... The Gruene Music Fest is this weekend and Ponty Bone, Van Wilks and the Dead Crickets are among the performers. Call (210) 629-4457 for more info. And slightly closer to home, there's a free bluegrass festival out at the Quarries this Saturday from noon to 6pm. Call 444-6623 on that one... While being interviewed for the Chronicle, the Heads' Jerry Harrison talked a lot about Austin bands, including the Ugly Americans, who share management with Big Head Todd -- Harrison's current production project. Harrison expressed regret over Sean McCarthy's departure from the Uglies, but says he admires Bruce Hughes a great deal. Harrison worked with Hughes when he produced Poi Dog Pondering; that connection served well when Harrison drafted PDP violinist Susan Voelz to play on the Big Head Todd record... Yes, Ween introduced their keyboardist as "Bobby Ogden" Tuesday night at Liberty Lunch just as the Statesman had predicted -- they cited the name as an in-joke reference to Peter Fonda's character in Outlaw Blues. What the daily failed to mention was that the Fonda flick was filmed around Austin during its Cosmic Cowboy heyday, and includes performances by Greezy Wheels and Steve Fromholz as well as a classic Hollywood trick: filming the inside of the infamous Soap Creek but using the original Split Rail as the exterior. Them wuz the daze... Some in-stores: Shoulders at Waterloo Records at 5pm Friday, Red Aunts at W'loo at noon next Wednesday, and Bobby Bland signs autographs at MusicMania on Saturday at 5pm... I didn't think anyone was still bothering to try to trace the history of this column's title, but then I didn't gamble on one Rene Pfeffer, who has been conducting an Internet search and has gone so far as to get a third party to grill Elvis Costello over whether he originated the phrase. The response came back that, "Elvis says he doesn't explicitly remember saying it, but it sounds like something he'd say." A surprise new contender has appeared: Charles Mingus was attributed the line, "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture," by the fanzine POPi, but the phrase has been misattributed before. The search for the definitive answer continues...

-- 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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