Dancing About Architecture

Heaven's Got a Helluva Band...

I'm currently three weeks into a month's vacation from the bottle, and considering the events of recent days, I'm not so sure I want to get started back up again. In what former Dicks' member Buxf Parrot succinctly calls "a bad week for rock & roll," he lost former bandmate Glen Taylor to the ravages of alcohol last Friday, a mere two days after former Fabulous Thunderbirds member Keith Ferguson succumbed to similar complications. Ferguson is well covered in this week's music section, while a gathering in Taylor's memory is scheduled for this Saturday at the Flamingo Cantina, 2-6pm. Both passings continue the sad trend begun with Townes Van Zandt's death at year's start. Futhermore, I'm told that El Duce of the shock-rock band the Mentors was run over by a train in Riverside, California while passed out on the tracks, and while this could be a hoax (like with that Dwarves guy awhile back), for now I'll count it as another addition to the list of alcohol-related deaths in the recent past (and as an example of the very least that GG Allin owed us). You can call it ironic or prophetic that, as pointed out in last week's item on the S.I.M.S. Foundation, May is officially Mental Health Month. (Sims Ellison, after whom the Foundation is named, actually made it a few days into June of 1995 before taking his own life.) With the rapid spread of Hepatitis C these days, you can expect to find a sharp increase in the number of casualties from the combination of the mental illness of addiction and the physical maladies that it fosters. Be careful, folks, and before we return to the land of the living, remember there's also a benefit for the family of Junior Medlow this Monday at the Continental Club. Jesse Taylor, Will and Charlie Sexton, Joe Ely, and George Devore will all perform.

Auditorium Sores

Well, sometimes the squeaky wheel does get the grease -- especially if the squeaky wheel is made up of disgruntled music fans who don't like to be separated from their bulldogs and Budweiser. A few weeks ago, I reported that, according to the Austin Federation of Musicians' Robert Dodds, the Summer Concert Series was taking on a "no pets" policy this year. What Dodds failed to add was that a ban on alcohol at the events accompanied it. A mere day after the first concert in the series, a press release titled "Concerts Present Music, Fun, and Safety" was issued, declaring that Riverside Drive will be closed from 6:30-10pm on Wednesday nights, peace officers will be in attendance at the shows, and, "Recent methods of addressing disruptive behavior, notably prohibiting alcohol and pets at the event, will no longer be in effect." Jim Halbrook at the Austin Parks and Recreation Department says that the brief prohibition was a result of looking at last year's concerts and their problems. Those included a stabbing and a vehicle-pedestrian accident, along with numerous other disturbances. Since the security guards at the shows weren't authorized to make arrests, they proved ineffective against the offenders. This year, the city declared that a fence would have to go around the Shores in order for the shows to continue. Since the cost of this was prohibitive, no fence was put up and no alcohol was allowed into the first show of the summer. This, apparently, was the straw that broke Spuds MacKenzie's back, since public protest and the Austin Federation of Musicians' offer to pay for commissioned peace officers to guard the series quickly turned the decision around. "We're glad that it got back to normal," says Halbrook. Next Wednesday's Auditorium Shores concert features Patty David and Don McCalister.

The other stumbling block in the live music path, sound levels, hasn't tripped up the Auditorium Shores shows so far, while Shady Grove's Marsha Milam reports that all is quiet on that front as well. This year's focus at the Grove is on pared-down acoustic sets (example: an upcoming Ray Benson solo show), with Darden Smith's show last week garnering complaints from neither neighbors nor patrons.

W.C. Squared

The similarity of the names isn't the only unusual circumstance involved with W.C. Clark's receipt of a prestigious W.C. Handy award last week. Clark's manager Vicky Moerbe says their whole camp was ecstatic over the nomination, but with the expenses incurred in the local guitarist's March auto accident, the funds weren't available to attend the awards ceremony in Memphis. Plus, given the competition for the award, Moerbe figured that, "We didn't have a prayer in hell." The plot thickened into a baffling goo when Mark Kazanoff called to tell Moerbe that, according to the Statesman, Clark had indeed won the award. Then again, the article in the daily also identified Louisiana blues queen Irma Thomas as being an Austinite, so, muses Moerbe, "I figured if they got that wrong, they got [W.C's award] wrong." Moerbe eventually confirmed that Clark had indeed won, but not before calling at 8:30am to inform him that the verdict was still up in the air. His response: "Why would you want to mess with me this early?"

There's a benefit for Clark this Monday at the Saxon Pub featuring Rusty Weir, Stephen Bruton, Omar Dykes, Lou Ann Barton, Malford Milligan, Derek O'Brien, Monte Montgomery, Lisa Tingle Band, Forlini & Cross, Karen Tyler Band, Seth Walker Band and special guests. Meanwhile, a total of $2,216 has been passed along to Moerbe from the buckets that had been making the rounds via Bill Noble following the accident. That money will go to the children of Pete Alcoser, Jr., and Brenda Jasek, both of whom were killed in the March wreck.

Hollywood Swingin'

Sandra Bullock, Forest Whitaker, Matthew McConaughey, and company continue to enjoy the treats our fair city has to offer. Those three were spotted at Stubb's during Joe Ely's show last Saturday, while Bullock and Harry Connick, Jr., were seen salsaing the night away at Ta Mere's Thursday gig at the Ritz. Witness Kris McKay said she was amazed at the way the two could sign autographs without missing a step. Since I'm led to understand that Bullock and crew will be around for a few months yet, I'm hoping to see her pop in at the June 7 Dogstar show at Liberty Lunch to run through a few scenes from Speed with co-star Keanu Reeves (though I'd rather hear her do a duet with Speed II star Tim Conway). Wow, all this and Jamie Farr is in town, too. I swear I'm gonna swoon!

Janis vs. Janis

The word from Variety is that the Nancy Savoca-directed, $20-million Janis Joplin biopic starring Lili Taylor (I Shot Andy Warhol) has pulled ahead in the race for completion against the competing flick starring Melissa Etheridge and directed by Marc Rocco (Murder in the First). (All this in the same time frame that a half-dozen Selena TV movies have already come and gone.) On another Janis front, the House of Blues Music Company has capitalized on the fact that no one's done a tribute album for Joplin, whom their press release describes as "a woman who made it her business not only to write and sing the blues but to live -- and die -- them." Included on Songs of Janis Joplin -- Blues Down Deep are performances by Etta James, Koko Taylor, Tracy Nelson, and Lou Ann Barton.

Mixed Notes

Force PR rep Janie Osborne nixes stories that Tanya Rae has split from the Junior Brown tour to be with her ailing mother in Tulsa. "Her mother's in perfect health as far as I know," says Osborne, marveling at the stories she's heard come out of Austin about the Browns. She herself brings up the one about the two being separated and living in different states, then dismisses it as untrue. FYI, adds Osborne, Junior's only expected time off the road in upcoming months will be to begin work on his next Curb/MCA album, which she "guesstimates" will be out in the fall...

Look soon for the second Austin City Limits best-of video, titled Singers and Songs. The program debuts on-air May 21, and features a diverse selection of material from the series that doesn't handily fit into a single category. Performers include Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, Leonard Cohen, and Tom Waits...

Wanna learn to tweedle-eedle-eedle? Another videotape to seek out is Eric Johnson's new two-tape set The Fine Art of Guitar. That instructional video is available from the New York-based Hot Licks Productions...

There's a new compilation album out called A Taste of Texas that features classic songs about (you guessed it!) the Lone Star State by the likes of George Jones, Vaughan Brothers, Johnny Winter, David Allen Coe, etc. What? No Jon Wayne?!?...

Those long-time Chicagoans Poi Dog Pondering (still featuring Frank Orrall, Dave Max Crawford, and Susan Voelz) have a new album out titled Liquid White Light. It's a whopping double CD live set...

The 1-4-5s are preparing to embark on a 10-day tour of Japan after having recorded several songs in Japanese for a single released in the Land of the Rising Sun on Answer Records. Three members of the band moved out of Austin last fall, but they're all back in town to practice up for the big trip. Their send-off show is scheduled for Friday, May 9, at the Hole in the Wall (see "Recommended"), with Halfwatt and Big Drag...

Jennifer Cook and Wilt have parted ways. Cook says the breakup was a peaceful one...

If the City Wide Garage Sales don't come often enough to satisfy you, check out the latest Swap & Bop over at Waterloo Brewing Company. Browse through clothes, records, toys, and junk while listening to Son Yuma, Ted Roddy & the Tearjoint Troubadors, Gulf Coast Playboys, Dale Watson, Sir Finks, and the Sons of Hercules. Coolness factor infinity!

-- Contributors: Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser

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More Dancing About Architecture
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The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."

Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

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