Dancing About Architecture

¿Agua Fest?

I attended a meeting of the Austin Aqua Festival (that's Aquafest to you and me) last week, and "exciting" was the word for it. By that, I mean nearly everyone who spoke for the Fest proclaimed how "exciting" it was to have not one but two sock-hop cover bands on their opening night, and that it was "exciting" that the zydeco band that had been chosen for Eclectic Night was comprised entirely of kids under 20. To be fair, the presenters of the information on the country and Tejano nights had something to be excited about. They gave reasoned discussion to the various skippers and commodores as to why they had chosen the various local and national acts for their nights (among those: Cornell Hurd, the Geezinslaws, La Tropa F, Jay Perez, John Berry, David Lee Garza). As always, though, the speech for rock night left one shivering. The bands Hot Wax, Moonjell, and Polite Society (who?) comprise Aquafest's opening night rock entertainment. Admittedly, Storyville was the Fest's original choice for opening night headliner -- logically, since they have both local and national name recognition and are danceable -- but their showcase had to be rescheduled to Eclectic night. Given the fact that Aquafest has a long reputation as a money-loser and Tejano nights have proven themselves to be the Fest's most popular nights by far (averaging somewhere in the vicinity of 18,000 per night in attendance), one could suggest that the whole festival should be changed into a major Tejano festival. Oddly enough, though, the Fest's own charts show their visitors to be predominantly single (56%), Anglo (47.8%), and female (53%). You know what SWF spells, don't you? Maybe they should just market Aquafest as one big pick-up heaven and clean up on it!

Liaison D'etre

Well, the Convention and Visitors' Bureau said they were waiting to pick a Director before naming a new Music Liaison, and once they made their choice of Ric Luber from Rochester, New York as director, sure enough, they named a liaison almost overnight in the person of Gavin Lance Garcia (formerly Gavin Lance, more formerly Gavin Gamma -- oh, let's get it over with! Everybody say "Ty Gavin Lance Keltner Gamma Garcia!"). Garcia doesn't take over that post until June 18, and Gwen Spain at the Bureau says that current acting liaison Lisa Rolke will still be around, helping in music and non-music areas. Director Luber, meanwhile, has wasted no time in clearing up a big conflict at the Bureau -- the decision of which slogan is best for Austin: "Live Music Capital of the World" (as seen on bumper stickers) or "Austin C.H.A.R.M. [Culture, Heritage, Art, Recreation, Music] (as seen on the Bureau's faxes and stationery). The decision? "We are C.H.A.R.M. no more!" says Spain. Luber adds, "Austin will always have charm, but its identity is that of the `Live Music Capital of the World,' because of the diversity and quality of the music here, from the symphony to the clubs."

Living Outside the Law

Where was Dan Baird during the recent Georgia Satellites show in San Antonio? Turns out, he wasn't too far away; Baird has been in Austin producing Johnny Law's new album. Actually, I call them Johnny Law, but the current quartet that comprises the band will no longer carry that name in the future. Band co-founder Erik Larson says the decision was made to give the new lineup a new moniker, but that they haven't chosen one yet -- nor does the new album have a title or a label. Plans call for the band to record the disc themselves and for Baird to then shop it around. As for how the band got together with the former Satellite, Larson points out that he worked on their first album and hung around with them some, and when the band decided to embark on this project, "Shit! We just called him up and he was down in a flash!"

Dying in 4/4 Time

Musicians have been leaving this mortal coil at such a rate that here at the Chronicle there's been half-serious talk of appointing a "death editor." This week's passings aren't as close to home as others in recent memory, but they bear mention, anyway. Tim Taylor, 28-year-old lead singer of Dayton, Ohio's Brainiac, was killed Friday when his car missed a curve and hit a phone pole -- two phone poles, actually. Brainiac weren't local, of course, but they did have a good Austin fan-base. And Mel Bay, whose "Modern Method for Guitar" books were a tool for many and a bane for kids who dreamed of being Eddie Van Halen and found themselves practicing "Polly Wolly Doodle" instead, died May 14 at the age of 84. Bay's music books, however, will live on as long as there's someone out there with at
least one finger to pick out "There Is a Tavern in the Town."

Up and Atom

The Atomic Cafe opens this weekend after a brief stint as a venue during South by Southwest. Their ads show that they won't be attempting to steal any customers from the Broken Spoke, preferring instead to traffic in such elements as fetish nights (for the "whips `n` chains `n` great danes" crowd) and bands like the Evil Mothers (who headline Friday). And yes, they've even laid claim to the venerable "Bloodfest," scheduled there for June 14.

Meanwhile, the Texas Chili Parlor has announced that they too have entered the live music arena. Jesus Christ Superfly's Rick Carney will be booking the club (call 478-3952 on Monday between 2-5pm), and says that people had been suggesting the Parlor offer live music for a while. The TCP will schedule mostly acoustic acts, on Wednesdays (8-11pm) and Saturdays (9-12), with George DeVore up on the first Wednesday and Spot, Doak Short, and Juliann Banks among the upcoming performers.

Mixed Notes

Don't stand in front of Rey Washam in the upcoming days. As the word gets out that he's quit Ministry, drummerless bands everywhere will be tripping all over themselves to get a whack at hiring him. As for his leaving the industrial giant, at first, he simply said, "It was time to go," then softened up a bit and added, "there wasn't enough going on...

they were running out of money and shit. You can imagine what it was like." Washam says he split Al Jourgenson's crew about a month ago and hasn't spoken to anyone in the band since, although, quoting rumors that the band has been dropped by its label, he says "I don't even know if there is a Ministry anymore." (Warner Bros. VP Bill Bentley reports that the band has not been dropped)...

Sorry I didn't get to warn you about Gibby Haynes' appearance on Politically Incorrect last Monday -- he guested along with Stephen Bishop, Me'shell Deguellojello -- er, that's Ndegeocello -- and "Weird Al" Yankovic.
I didn't get any advance warning on the airing, either, and frankly, it looked like one of those shows that had been sitting on the shelf for awhile to be pulled out in an emergency (ie: not very topical or interesting)...

Jimmie Vaughan will be putting his appearances at Antone's later this month to good use. Those gigs will make fine preparation for his three weeks of festivals in Europe that follow. After playing such gigs as the prestigious Montreux festival, he returns to the states for the summer leg of the big blues tour with B.B. King and Robert Cray. Meanwhile, manager Mark Proct says that Vaughan is in the studio right now, but don't expect a new album to drop in your lap before September or October at the earliest...

The Sexton Brothers had three labels scoping out their recent showcase at the Continental Club, but their management say not to expect any decision to be made soon. The label reps reportedly enjoyed the show, though, and "went home happy"...

Dale Watson is another fella who's slow on the trigger. With his new I Hate These Songs (referring to good old songs being too good) coming out on June 10, manager Mike Crowley reports that, "There's certainly interest, but with a new record coming out, he doesn't have to hurry to decide." Watson's situation can only get better, says Crowley, so unless an unrefusable deal comes along, the country singer will just keep on pluggin' without the help of a major...

Look for Pat MacDonald's new solo effort, Pat MacDonald Sleeps With His Guitar, in stores now from Ark 21 Records, and look for MacDonald himself in-store at Waterloo on Friday, June 6. Previous to that, you can see Aquafest performer Laurie Marks displaying material from her new Plazma release Selfish at Waterloo this Friday at 5pm. David Wilcox does the same for his Turning Point CD on Monday, also at 5pm...

The Horsies had to go to Japan to find a label, and then ironically, the label came back to Texas to press the CD more cheaply! Hiroshi Asada, president of Benten Records, came from the Land of the Rising Sun to the Lone Star State to press Touch Me, Columbus at Dallas' Crystal Clear Sound, leaving extra copies here for the band to sell. The Horsies official release show will be June 6 at Stubb's...

Seed has parted ways with lead vocalist Gabriel Ordonez and now has Chris Cann handling the vocal duties. They quote differences in musical direction as the reason for the split; both Seed and Ordonez are currently at work recording...

Tribute album of the week: There's a Kinky Friedman trib in the works down at Arlyn, with the Geezinslaws, Willie Nelson, Delbert McClinton, Leroy Parnell -- and possibly Dwight Yoakam -- contributing cuts to the project...

Latest signing to Trance, and latest candidate for marquee reject of the year: And You Will Know Them By the Trail of Dead...

Look for the return to town of former Wild Seeds leader and journalist Michael Hall as the constantly-moving songwriter (where was he last? Chicago? Pennsylvania?) takes an editing post at Texas Monthly -- and, hopefully, play some gigs...

Jon Dee Graham has put the finishing touches on his solo debut Escape From Monster Island for Freedom Records. The album features appearances from Rafael Gayol, George Reiff, Michael Ramos, Mike Hardwick, Kathy McCarty, and the "Austin Wrecking Crew" (Charlie Sexton, Kacy Crowley, and Trish Murphy). That's due June 18. Also coming out from the good folks at Freedom is a July reissue of Evan Johns & the H-Bombs eponymous second album, retitled Love Is Murder and boasting a bonus track. (No word on whether Mike Hall plans to reissue his album Love Is Murder under the title Evan Johns and the H-Bombs)....

-- 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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