Dancing About Architecture

Plastic Butthole Band

Whew! Did the Butthole Surfers return to form last Friday or not? The line outside Liberty Lunch certainly showed that they were fully expected to, and they lived up to the wait. Of course, the length of that line (all the way around the building and almost down to First Street) was augmented by the band's last-minute decision to renegotiate their contract with the Lunch, dropping the ticket price from $18 to $8. "It was fun giving people money at the door," says the venue's J-Net Ward of the refunds being doled out to those who'd already bought full-price tickets. The official story is that the band merely wanted to do something special for their Austin audience after the debacle at the Austin Music Hall earlier this summer. "After all," says Ward, "they do have to live in town." Paul Leary echoed these sentiments when he announced midway through the show -- pretty much the only stage patter the whole night -- that it was good to be back among friends and that their AMH show "kind of sucked."

With an energetic set that got neither too formulaic nor too wiggy, the Buttholes easily won over the capacity crowd, displaying most of their usual visual effects (the strange background films, the inverted cymbal full of lighter fluid). For one night in Austin, with old fans and new side-by-side, the word "backlash" was all but forgotten.

The highlight for this writer, though, was the extended noise jam at the conclusion of the evening, with the Cibo Matto gals and a grinning son-of-a-Beatle Sean Lennon (who was seen buying one of Keith Ferguson's old basses from One World Music) joining the Butts for a backlit frenzy of thundering drums and shrieking strings, dual Yoko-chants from the Cibos and the Gibbytron pumping out its own special variation of a Magical Mystery Tour.

Portable Radio

Another sign of the holidays' approach is the appearance of radio station CDs, with two compilations in the works from sister stations KGSR and 101X. The latter disc isn't coming 'til after New Year's, possibly because their previous Christmas-themed disc didn't quite sell enough copies to weigh down Santa's sleigh, and also because 101X says they want to get some live performances from this year's X-Fest on it. The KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 4 will come out the day after Thanksgiving, however, and includes cuts from such luminaries as Alejandro Escovedo, Lyle Lovett, Lou Reed, Randy Newman, and Joan Osborne. The Osborne track required some work, because just as these radio comps have become more common, the artists are now more selective about who can use what. After a long, fruitless wait for Osborne's people to approve the song, the station had to present the tape to her personally, at which time she promptly gave the thumbs up. Proceeds from both discs go to the Texas Chapter of NARAS' charitable organizations.

Student radio station KVRX has a new comp of its own on the way, culled from performances on its weekly Local Live program
(10-11pm Sundays). Among the 18 bands thereon, you'll find the Jubilettes, Moist Fist, 7% Solution, Foreskin 500, and Silver Scooter. That disc hits stores on December 2, with the usual cascade of in-stores and release parties to go with it.

How's It Hangin'?

I was delayed Sunday night after Wurst-Fest and a side trip over to San Antonio, so I missed Joan Jett's show at the Electric Lounge that night. That didn't stop me from nosing around to try and get the answer to that age-old question: Has she got a... "you know." "From what she was wearing you could definitely tell what sex she was," says Cattleguard's Brit Jones, but when asked if she was packing a little something extra, he admits he didn't get close enough to see. Greg Wilson aka Wendal P. Stivers of opener Sincola admits that his band, which is known to include a number of lesbians, was hand-picked by Jett (who performed the Replacements' song "Androgynous" that night!) to open five shows in Texas. When asked if she asked specifically for the lesbians, however, he remarked that, "To my knowledge, she just asked for Sincola." In the end, all this reporter could determine was that Sincola vocalist Rebecca Cannon actually has several "you knows..." She keeps 'em in a box under her bed.

Add Ian Moore to your list of people who are a bit shy about expounding on the exploits of their "you know..." On his website, where he publicly responds to fan e-mail, one letter writer referred to a club in Kansas City where, rumor has it, Ian "left remnants of sexual activity on the wall -- and then autographed the spot!" Moore modestly replied that "That wonderful piece of graffiti is actually in the bathroom of the Grand Emporium, and is a gift from my outspoken and eloquent drummer. Though I do try to engage in all true rock
star-enhancing activities (Bacchlanian [sic] orgies, feasting on bat heads, etc.), I was not fortunate enough to be involved in such an impressive situation." Now, that's what I call passing the, er, buck.

Finally, my attention was called to a Fag Rag ad for the appearance of a man who makes a living from his "you know..." The young "adult film star," who was making a personal appearance at a club in Dallas, goes by name of Jake Andrews. Now, that can't possibly be the young blues-picking lad known as "Guitar" Jake Andrews, can it? I figure he hit puberty a while back, but trust me, if the guy in this picture was him, it hit back with a vengeance.

Mixed Notes

Michael Nesmith may be currently preoccupied with Monkee business (see feature this issue), but he's hoping to get a break at some unspecified time in the near future to come down and work with blues guitarist Bill Campbell, described by Nesmith as "one of your Austin treasures." Nesmith has written a batch of blues-based songs which relate to his upcoming novel, and wants to record them here with Campbell. Nesmith says he doubts he will perform live during his visit, but if he does it will be a very low-key affair...

Former Austinite Mike Alvarez has found another reason to dig into his box of Roky Erickson recordings from the Eighties. His L.A.-based Not Records Tapes label is releasing a compilation disc of Austin artists including Erickson, ex-Hickoid Davy Jones, Larry Seaman, Mike Runnels, Terry Laird, Texacala Jones, and Alvarez himself. A release party is currently in the works for Under Ground at the Hole in the Wall, Nov. 29, with several of the above performers as well as the Weaklings and 68 Comeback...

Tonight (Thursday) is Laura's birthday celebration at the Blue Flamingo. The Fuckemos, Motards, and other such miscreants will be playing...

Remember the Chronicle's recent cover feature on the current sluggishness of the live music scene? Well, within a couple of weeks, nigh-identical stories ran in not only the American-Statesman but also in the San Antonio Express-News and even The New York Times. I'm not sure whether it's a coincidence or if people are looking over our shoulder, but I will say that Neil Strauss, who wrote the NYT piece, has been known to spend time in Austin. The Johnny Gammage Band say that in light of the Chron feature, they're holding a benefit for themselves at Nasty's this Saturday, claiming that they're worthy because they're "suffering due to the fact that we're musicians in Austin...

Mark Hallman concurs that these are "scary times" as he decides whether to release the next Hamilton's Pool (who've just added David Halley to their ranks) album on Watermelon, which he says had "a real bad year last year." Watermelon's Heinz Geissler says everybody had a bad year last year. "From Warner Bros. to Watermelon," he says. "Nevertheless, the way I see it, they are under contract to us and we have an option on the next album." Meanwhile, Hallman's Congress House studio is currently busy with demos for Johnny Goudie and Dizzy Blue while awaiting an appearance from Janis Ian and her producer Ani DiFranco, who will be recording a tune there in December...

Meredith Louise Miller was somewhat more vocal, if self-deprecating, when she recently discussed her past dealings with local Doolittle Records in the Dallas Morning News. Miller said of her Doolittle deal, "I signed everything away. Now I look back and say, `Duh!' "...

Here's hoping that there won't have to be a benefit to make up losses at the Willie Nelson benefit to make up losses from the One World Music Festival. Those in attendance say the event was a lot of fun, with Nelson joining the Killer Bees for some reggae and Ian Moore for some blues, but the crowd was estimated at only between 1,000-1,200 people. Says Rick Busby, "We wish there had been more people, but it's hard to compete with a Cowboys/49ers game"...

The real ugly stories this week stem from the Old Skool Funk Fest. Besides reported counts of extreme lateness and technical disasters, a behind-the-scenes Internet post from the show's audio producer claims the event was, "The worst organized show I have ever seen. The promoters actually skipped town after the first act went on, as the turnout was poor and they had no money for the rest of the acts. Lakeside and the Gap Band ended up playing for free, as a favor to the fans"...

Producer Don Was has dropped out of producing the next album for Dallas' Old 97s. "The one guy that could've stopped me is the one guy that called," the band quotes Was as saying. Now, he'll be producing Keith Richards' new one instead...

Alejandro Escovedo just finished up a string of dates with Son Volt. Al and the Volt had been trying to get together, and when Big Sandy had to pull out of some opening dates, Al was called to step in and fill the bill. Speaking of filling the bill, Rykodisc says Buick MacKane finally have a release date for their debut, The Pawhshop Years. That's February 25, the same date the Bill Hicks stuff comes out...

The Recliners have a release party for their new "post-modern power lounge" album Cosa Caliente this Friday at the Ritz. The album features Sinatra-ized versions of, among other things, Radiohead's "Creep"...


-- 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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