Dancing About Architecture
On Your Marks
Red HouseThis may qualify as a post-SXSW story, as that's when things should become much clearer, but it's certainly worth noting that Kelly and Tosca Gruber, owners of La Zona Rosa, have been talking to the House of Blues corporation about taking over their club. In fact, the latter Gruber says some corp. officials will be staying with her during SXSW and that serious negotiations will be going down then. "We would love to have them come in and take our property," says Gruber, adding that indications so far are that Austin is still probably too small a market for HOB. A big enticement, however, might just be Liberty Lunch's Mark Pratz, with whom the Grubers are expected to enter into a deal to book and restructure the financial operations at LZR. "We're in the process of putting together a management deal," confirms Pratz. "Mike Mordecai has it booked up real good through March -- he's done a terrific job over there -- but they'd like to increase the variety of what gets booked -- get more alternative stuff in there." This apparently, say both Pratz and Gruber, is what HOB is looking for, and since Liberty Lunch isn't expecting the city to renew the club's lease in March of '98, developments on this front will probably be closely watched by many different parties.
More Nasty Ol' PerformersFormer SXSW head honcho Louis Jay Meyers has returned from the MIDEM conference in Cannes, France with the bad (but expected) news that "American participation was definitely off this year," and that the conference leaned heavily on dance and techno. He does confirm that the Gourds and Calvin Russell were among those American acts that knocked the crowds dead, and in general, Meyers seems unfazed by any downturns in the music industry. Mere days after the February 1 end to his agreement with SXSW not to start any competing music conferences, he has announced the LMNOP (Louisiana Music New Orleans Pride) festival, to be held April 28-30 in the Mardi Gras capital of the world.
I'd Love to Turn You On......to the "A Day in the Life" project now in the works from the S.I.M.S. foundation, dedicated to local musicians' emotional health and named after the late Sims Ellison. All of Austin's clubs (and other music-related folks) are being asked to dedicate one day this year towards the project, with last Sunday's show at Liberty Lunch being their day. This Sunday's KGSR/101X swap meet at the Austin Music Hall finds proceeds going to the foundation, while clubs like the Hole in the Wall and Babes will be getting into the act on Feb.19 and 21, respectively.
If you're keeping score on Sims' former Pariah bandmates, here's the latest: Kyle Ellison will have a break from the Butthole Surfers to record a new album with the Meat Puppets; Jared Tuten has been guitar-teching for Joe Ely and playing bass for Atlantic act Camus; and he and Dave Derrick are running the ADAT Studio X at the ARC. Sorry, but I already gave the rundown on Shandon Sahm and Sunshine last week.
Add 2/5 of a SpoonfulAbout half the recipients of Spoon's new Soft Effects EP will get a special bonus -- one that neither the band nor their label intended. Somehow, after a special promotional pressing was made including two songs from the band's previous release Telephono, the master of that item made its way to the pressing plant again, meaning that many copies of Soft Effects include the two inadvertent bonus tracks. "It's not that big a deal," says Spoon's Britt Daniel, except that the appearance of the two songs tend to blunt the intentional differences in the sound of the album and the EP (early reviews of Soft Effects are already touting the contrasts between the two). Spoon also has new tracks on the What's Up Matador label compilation, and an upcoming Big Star tribute album, the fomer having been recorded by Grant Barger of the Softs. Spoon will be touring with new bass player Josh Zarbo before and after SXSW.
'head Like a 'holeBeavis and Butt-head creator Mike Judge closed out 1996 with the biggest December opening weekend ever for his duo's film debut, and opened 1997 with the first episode of his dryly hilarious King of the Hill. Meanwhile, the Butthole Surfers ushered in their year with a mention on KotH's sister show The Simpsons, as young Rod (or was it Todd?) Flanders, wearing a BHS concert T-shirt given to him by an emergency worker, exclaimed "Look, mommy! I'm a surfer!" More recently, that oft-delayed Larry Sanders Show appearance sneaked onto the air last week. Among the highlights was their performance of "Ulcer Breakout" and Garry Shandling's polite demurring from hanging out with the band, preferring the company of that kleptomaniac chick from Full House. King Coffey (no relation to King of the Hill) debuted his own show last Saturday, not on TV but on radio. Well, actually, it's not exactly on radio either; it's Brainwash, Coffey's new internet radio show. Located on the web at http://buttholesurfers.com/brainwash/, Coffey is producer and host of the 24-hour station. Sounds like a fun job, but the hours suck!
Radio, RadioMeanwhile, as we reported in a last-minute flash last week, the actual airwaves crossed lines as of Saturday when the two local stations plowing the "alternative" field became one. That is to say, 101X and K-NACK joined in a local marketing agreement that basically erased K-NACK from the airwaves and replaced it with a simulcast of 101X. This six-month joining is an interim motion while K-NACK is in the process of being sold. K-NACK owner/general manager Richard Rees says that "Everything hit the fan, and now it's calm," noting that the bulk of his staff has been gone for four weeks (he currently has two people on full-time staff, who also work for 101X.) 101X general manager Scott Gillmore points to the recent change at KUTZ (Z-ROCK) to a talk format, as well as the absorption of K-NACK, as evidence that 101X will be a "major player" in Austin radio in the coming years. Rees, meanwhile, assures that "[K-NACK] is still gonna do our big barbecue for SXSW."
Mixed NotesMusicians note that Monday, February 10 is your last chance to register for the Musicians Register (and remember, that means your free Threadgills dinner). You can do that at Ruby's from 6-8pm... Note, too, that the next day, Tuesday, there will be a public hearing on musicians loading and unloading equipment on Sixth Street. That's at 5:30pm at the Municipal Annex Building, 301 West Second, first floor conference room... Austin's Sons of the Desert (who've actually been a Dallas band since about 1993) have just released their first single on Epic Records, with a yet-untitled album to follow in June. Craig Campbell at Epic points out that the album will be unusual for a new country act in that the band actually plays on all the tracks -- no studio musicians were used... Somebody better get a traffic helicopter over to Tower Records this Friday at 4pm. If this in-store for the Austin Does Prince CD (with Guy Forsyth, Christina Marrs, Johnny Goudie, Kris McKay, Michele Solberg, and the Adults performing) draws anywhere near the number of people that stood in line for the release party at the Electric Lounge, there won't be a place to (paisley) park for blocks... Louisiana's Ruth Brown features a previously unrecorded Sarah Brown song on her upcoming Rounder album. Brown (Sarah, that it) has just been nominated for the second consecutive year in the Best Blues Bassist category of the W.C. Handy Awards... And speaking of Browns, the new Guitar Player features a cover story on Junior Brown, and on the other end of the spectrum includes 16 Volt (who have an Austin member and management) in their feature on hard rock bands to watch. Meanwhile, over at Guitar World, Dah-Veed, Sixteen Deluxe and the Old 97's get mentions in Andy Langer's "How to Get Signed" story... Robbie Jacks' new radio show has made its debut on the new KJFK 98.9FM. Expect to hear Jacks' pal Exene Cervenka call in (and believe me, that gal can talk) to the show on Saturday during its 10pm-midnight slot... It's been brought to my attention that Seattle has just erected a statue of Jimi Hendrix, taking only 23 years longer than it took Austin to memorialize Stevie Ray Vaughan. At this rate, they should have Kurt Cobain done sometime around 2021...
Tenderloin has been in town recording with Stuart Sullivan. If there's any justice in the world, their next album will feature a notice that "Tenderloin uses Sam's BBQ ribs exclusively"...
-- Contributions: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser