Picks & Sleepers

South by Southwest '97

Lullaby for the Working Class

You always hear the rumble just before the avalanche, and this week's "Picks & Sleepers" section, limited to Wednesday South by Southwest showcases only, is just a faint rolling sound compared to next week's pull-out section, which will have a couple hundred more "Picks & Sleepers" covering the rest of the conference. Take cover and stayed tuned for instructions... -- Raoul Hernandez


WEDNESDAY PICKS

DIRTY DOZEN: Dropping the "Brass Band" from their name and adding a drum kit to their arsenal after 20 years has not changed the modus operandi of this multi-horn-powered New Orleans juggernaut. Their rhythmic onslaught covers the entire range of Crescent City music from Louis Armstrong to free jazz. And when they lock into a groove, you'd better have your dancin' shoes on. (Liberty Lunch, 8pm) -- Jay Trachtenberg

KIMMIE RHODES: The Willie Nelson School of brilliant, introspective Texas songwriting didn't die in the Seventies; his friend Rhodes is now pursuing a Doctorate. Check out West Texas Heaven on Justice for the best album since The Sound in Your Mind. (Stubb's, 9pm)

-- Lee Nichols

LULLABY FOR THE WORKING CLASS: Lullaby for the Working Class' debut Blanket Warm is absolutely exquisite. The closest I can get you for a comparison is the Bad Livers on codeine. The Lincoln, Nebraska band lacks the furious finger picking of its local counterparts, though, gently strumming out its melodies on mandolins and banjos instead, then enhancing the sound with the odd glockenspiel and violin. (Hole in the Wall, 11pm) -- Michael Bertin

THE MULLENS: A really tall, '64 Jaggeresque frontman perched before a buncha guys fond of the self-same Stones, New York Dolls, Stooges, and Australian punk rock of the Birdman/Saints ilk. No, this ain't the Sons of Hercules in disguise, just a Dallas-based combo who prove that the Sons' talent is immense enough to begin inspiring like-minded combos. Rowdy roots trash punk for now people, okay? (Flamingo Cantina, 9pm) -- Tim Stegall

JASON & THE SCORCHERS: What can you say about the legendary Jason and his Nashville Scorchers that hasn't already been said? Arguably among the pioneers of cowpunk, their high-energy old-school take on country rock is flamboyant and loud -- just like last year's Clear Impetuous Morning. (Liberty Lunch, 10pm) -- Christopher Hess

TITO & TARANTULA: You can't possibly imagine that I would recommend a band playing against the Awards show unless it was someone I wished I had on the bill. Enter Tito Larriva (ex-Cruzados and Plugz) and company, who oozed straight out of hell in From Dusk Till Dawn playing appropriately greasy, bar-smokin' Tex-Cal-Mex rock. Damn the luck. (Steamboat, Midnight)

-- Margaret Moser

FUCKEMOS '97: For years now, the Fuckemos have delighted in being the Austin rock scene's own personal enema. A Fuckemos show cleans you out like a diamond on the end of a Roto-Rooter, spraying shit all over the walls and numbing you with pain. Snap on the rubber gloves if you must, but there's no escaping the power of a Fuckemos show to make you feel really dirty, really fucked up, and really fuckin' happy to be alive. (Flamingo Cantina, Midnight)

--Christopher Gray

WAYNE HANCOCK: "Set the Wayback Machine, Sherman." "Where are we going today, Mr. Peabody?" "This trip is purely recreational, Sherman. We're going back about 40 or 50 years to hit a juke joint and catch one of the legends: Ernest Tubb, Hank Sr., Jimmie Rodgers, or even Tex Ritter." "But Mr. Peabody, we can just catch Wayne the Train. Besides it would be much easier to go up the street than go back in time." "Hmmm, Yes, I suppose so, Sherman. Musically it's the same thing, but the beer was much cheaper in the Forties." (La Zona Rosa, Midnight)

-- Michael Bertin

Kathy McCarty

KATHY MCCARTY: Kurt Cobain's wearing of a "Hi, How Are You?" T-shirt at the MTV Awards could be the pinnacle of Daniel Johnston's visibility, but a far less ephemeral (and far more graceful) gesture was Kathy McCarty's Dead Dog's Eyeball, an album consisting entirely of her doing Johnston's songs, and one of the local highlights this decade. (Hole in the Wall, Midnight)

-- Michael Bertin

BALI GIRLS: Despite the fact that their eponymous debut, on NY indie Bittersweet, sports a trio (none of 'em "girls"), Seattle's Bali Girls were a duo during their last stop over at Emo's, and one that makes alternative, loud/soft meisters Local H sound like Sonny & Cher. Talk about calm before the storm. The music just kept building until the explosion hit, the paint peeled, and the whole building was raised to the ground. That's why they're playing... (Flamingo Cantina, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

ZEKE: Ripping down from the Pacific Northwest like a particularly nasty Chinook, Zeke throws the punk-rock rulebook straight out the window with a crudity not seen since early Mudhoney. Their tales from the hard side may require earplugs (if you're a wuss), but it's a small concession when a band is as visceral and feral as this one. (Emo's, 1am) -- Christopher Gray

LOOSE DIAMONDS: Ok, just when exactly are the Loose Diamonds gonna get some respect? I mean, besides from The New York Times, which voted last year's stripped-to-the-acoustics Fresco Fiasco! one of the 10 overlooked albums of the year. Maybe their troubadour roots music, burning with Americana spirit, will get swept up in a certain popular movement. Maybe you should get swept up in the Loose Diamonds. (Steamboat, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez


WEDNESDAY SLEEPERS

MY FAVORITE MARTIAN: Buoyant punk with humor: "Me I never lie/ I'm just a casual fibber." MFM guitarist and vocalist Al Bloch used to be the bass player for WOOL. MFM isn't nearly as painful, and with most songs clocking in at under two minutes, they're friendly to your busy schedule. (Electric Lounge, 9pm) -- Michael Bertin

GEORGE DEVORE: Since moving to Austin from Nashville last year, Devore has been a fixture at La Zona Rosa -- where regulars are really buying into Devore's working-class songs and Jim Carrey-meets-Bruce Springsteen stage presence. That his band the Roam is arguably Austin's best new backing outfit hasn't hurt things either. (La Zona Rosa, 9pm) -- Andy Langer

HOTWHEELS JR: Even though we've apparently moved from a state of `post-punk' to one of `post-rock,' Hot Wheels Jr.'s blinding flashes of Sonic Youth energy are no less important. This Austin four-piece plows through introverted, brilliant melodies, and blistering rhythm work like a bulldozer in a dirt bike race. (Emo's Jr., 9pm)

-- Christopher Gray

Star Hustler

FroSTed: Former Go-Go Jane Wiedlin has found a new home with a bunch of boys in the Los Angeles area. While the music on their self-titled debut (released both on giant DGC and tiny Seattle label Scooch Pooch) is as relentlessly sunny and alternative format-friendly as anything Wiedlin has ever done, the lyrics carry considerable vitriol. (Emo's, 9pm) -- Ken Hunt

TERROR AT 10,000 FT: A quarter-century ago, James Brown asked the JB's "Can we give the bass some?" Terror responds with a resounding, "Yes" -- only a single timekeeper stands between this Austin band's three bassists and their monster speaker cabinets. Subtle like a great big truck and recommended for headaches. (Copper Tank, 9pm) -- Phil West

THE JUGGERNAUT JUG BAND: Jazzy, bluesy, ragtime, swing, and original music combined in a strange concoction called jug band music. Besides the obvious jugs, other instruments include: washboard, trumpet, cans, blues harp, snare, walking bass, running nose flute, washtub bass, violin, guitar, and mandolin. If that wasn't enough, look for interesting realizations of "People Are Strange" and "Black Dog." (Electric Pavilion, 9pm) -- David Lynch

6240: When 6240 played SXSW last year it was a watershed moment for Ames, Iowa's burgeoning music scene, although the band's oddball debut, Made in the USA, is itself a rewarding experience: a psychedelic mix of ska-dubmetal and frontman Andy Schneider's wonderfully obscure ramblings. A year after the album and showcase, it's a good bet this bizarre outfit may just be ready for impact. (Copper Tank, 10pm)

-- Andy Langer

PINETOP SEVEN: There used to be this story circulating that the reason the Crash Test Dummies' Brad Roberts had such a deeeep voice was because he only had one testicle. Someone better check Darren Richard, who leads this Chicago quintet, because he's got the Roberts' things down. (Electric Pavilion, 10pm)

-- Raoul Hernandez

FUMES: Onetwothreefour. Thankyouverymuch. Onetwothreefour. Thankyouverymuch. Onetwothreefour... Being from Spokane -- "Capital of the Inland Empire" -- must build up a lot of tension, since this quartet fairly bursts with nervous energy. Their album Self-Appointed Guardians of the Machine keeps the spirit of early-Eighties Los Angeles hardcore alive. (Emo's, 10pm) -- Ken Hunt

DITCH WITCH: Hard drivin' guitar rock infused with a bit of small town angst. Blissfully pissed off factory town rock replete with ringing guitars and heavy drums, the kind of Americana that makes you proud to be drunk -- er, American. (Babe's, 10pm) -- Christopher Hess

FILÉ: Dem Cajuns sho love to dance. Austin expatriate D'Jalma Garnier's outfit Filé takes a few cues from Beausoleil when it comes to expanding traditional Cajun music's horizons with jazz, rock, and blues, yet take a back seat to no one when they crank some bayou-fied dance floor gumbo spicy as last year's album La Vie Marron. (La Zona Rosa, 10pm) -- Christopher Gray

GOMEZ: The biggest KISS and Star Wars fans in Central Texas spin around the lip of pure kitsch with a blend of East Bay pop-punk and SoCal hardcore. At a time when you cannot, or won't, distinguish between the sincere item and Green Day babies, Gomez lets you know exactly which they are -- with a huge grin. (Emo's, 11pm)

-- Ken Hunt

MARY CUTRUFELLO: Seen recently adding a mustang twang and kick to Jimmie Dale Gilmore's band, Houston guitarist Mary Cutrufello has long been one of the Lone Star State's best-kept six-string secrets, kicking her raunchy rhythms in a decidedly Keith Richards fashion rather than a Vaughan, Johnson, or Vaughan mode. The country growl, however, is all her own. (La Zona Rosa, 11pm)

-- Raoul Hernandez

WINGNUT SUPREME: Your standard twin-guitars-bass-drums combo has been given a bizarro, minimalist twist in a manner not seen since, maybe, Some Velvet Sidewalk. On their T.O.N. album F96, disconnected guitar figures and mechanistic drums tread the fine line between syncopation and collision; the singer sounds like he's channeling a peripheral character from The X-Files. If Devo, Big Black, and the Jesus Lizard all prefigured one thing in rock, it's Wingnut Supreme. (Copper Tank, 11pm) -- Ken Hunt

CHLORINE: This four-piece alternative rock act is currently the buzz of Houston -- literally, with two demos getting heavy airplay on KTBZ "The Buzz." And their recent placement on a new Alternative Press sampler has also helped fanned the A&R flame, with one interested A&R rep saying he can't really argue with the "Thin Lizzy meets the Goo Goo Dolls" comparison he recently overheard at a sold-out showcase. (Tropical Isle, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

PARANOIDS: High-concept garage trio -- "high-concept" only 'cuz they're as likely to cover Flaming Lips or Daniel Johnston as they would be, say, Billy Childish. Their own originals are as much in a Pete Townshend-"My Generation" mode as anything else, but no one faulted Paul Weller for this at 17, did they? (Emo's Jr., 11pm)

-- Tim Stegall

SUNSHINE: Doug Sahm's recorded one of their songs, and they've recently turned into a quartet by adding local pop veteran Johnny Goudie. Not bad for what's been, up to now, a little local pop trio. And while a slew of new demos show that they're getting a feel for the compact song, the live show also indicates a band with not just confidence and charm, but also an impressive flair for full harmonies and spunky hooks. (Steamboat, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

STARHUSTLER: Out in support of their marvelous new Dirt Records release, Vapid Drivel, this Portland, Oregon band of mopers are Wilco without the lithium. Their sad folk, made bittersweet by a lovely mulch of banjos, mandolin,s and fiddles, weaves itself around the melancholy vocal stylings of Jason Hatfield (of those Hatfields) and Cheri Lee Dillon, who ache with the essence of everything Americana. (Tropical Isle, Midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

CAROLYN WONDERLAND & THE IMPERIAL MONKEYS: Houston blues have changed a lot since the days of Lightnin' Hopkins, Gold Star studios, and Duke records. Now they live in glitzy bars on strips like Richmond, and aren't shy about adding in the rock & roll. Wonderland is one of the crown princesses among Houston's blues divas, and her earthy, bar-band beltin' plays pretty well in Austin, too. (Stubb's, Midnight)

-- Christopher Gray

Chris Wall

PAUL CEBAR & THE MILWAUKEEANS: R&B, rock, Cajun, and soul are all fair game for Paul Cebar & Co. And while Wisconsin is not known as the hotbed of upbeat R&B, these guys, demonstrating deft handling of different styles, do more than a respectable job with it. (Antone's, Midnight) -- David Lynch

MISS GALAXY: If it's power-pop you want, then there's no better band to throw it at you than Austin's Miss Galaxy. Or is it sugar-punk? Melody-metal? Whatever you wanna call it, Miss Galaxy's got enough of it for you to pogo your posterior off and send it skidding into the stratosphere. Just don't call them Miss Universe. (Emo's Jr., Midnight) -- Christopher Hess

THE ADULTS: Don't be afraid to get a little dirt on ya. Austin's Adults deliver rough and muddy rock by the beer light with the occasional spate of boogie-woogie thrown in at the most pleasantly inopportune moment. Their '96 debut full-length, Action Street, confirms their hidden diamond status with dark humor and brash aplomb. (Copper Tank, Midnight)

-- Greg Beets

CHRIS WALL: With a 10-gallon black hat and a grin big as all outdoors, Chris Wall is as reliable as the trains he's fond of singing about. Poking sharp observations into a honky-tonk dance feel, he's finally reaching an audience that likes to listen to lyrics as much as it likes to dance and drink beer. Well, okay, almost as much. (La Zona Rosa, 1am)

-- Christopher Gray

TAB BENOIT: Hailing from the small Gulf Coast oil town of Houma, this Bluesiana fret burner plays a honest and direct style of Cajun influenced blues. This is the real deal y'all so if you love the bayou blues check out Benoit. If we're lucky he'll play the harp, as well. (Stubb's, 1am) -- David Lynch

ANODYNE: Vets with a fledgling project. Not the likeliest union, Anodyne is essentially ex-Hammerbox guitarist Harris Thurmond and former That Petrol Emotion vocalist Steve Mack. Remove the noise and you've got more of an Eighties D.C. hardcore band than anything else. (Babe's, 1am) -- Michael Bertin

SEMI GLOSS: The Telecaster twinkles and so does Verena, the Swiss/French/Chinese chanteuse in NY's Semi Gloss. Pure pop from an innocent time, before those obnoxious Americans, the Bangles, ruined everything jangly and girlie. I'm moving to Paris, where the folks are positively dainty. (Tropical Isle, 1am)

-- Raoul Hernandez

POPDEFECT: From L.A., Popdefect bring their slightly polished, fast, and trashy pop music to Austin in hopes of securing another regular stop on their perpetual tour pattern. They have something like a dozen records under their belt, and their shows split time between the two distinct and jarringly odd vocal styles of the frontmen. (Electric Lounge, 1am) -- Christopher Hess

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