Dancing About Architecture

Couldn't $tand the Weather or: The Winds of Change

Warner Bros. exec and Texas Tornados booster Bill Bentley just happened to be returning my call on the evening of May 27, as Austin was bathed in storms and the Chronicle TV was crackling out the news of the on-going devastation north of town. "So what's up in Austin?" he queried. When I replied that a tornado had just touched down nearby, he naturally couldn't resist quipping back, "Oh, Doug Sahm just showed up at the office, eh?" True to his prediction, Sahm, along with his two musical sons, Shandon and Shawn, and musical compatriot Augie Meyers made a last-minute call to the Hole in the Wall last Wednesday for a somewhat more intimate tornado jam than the big, sold-out extravaganza at the Austin Music Hall the following night. Although only half of the Texas Tornados showed up at the Hole, they still blew up a full storm's worth of music, and while the $500 they raised for victims of the Texas weather may seem modest compared to the Tornado Jam figures (I'll get to them in a moment), keeping in mind that their show was no cover (donations only) and that it got next to no publicity (seeing as it went from idea to reality in a little over 24 hours), I think the folks in Jarrell will be just fine with the donation. Sahm originally tried to get his Tornados into the big Jam, but despite their name (or perhaps because of it?) they weren't able to squeeze onto the already packed bill.

Another local who says he would've liked to play the Jam but didn't is world-class musician Jon "Blondie" Blondell. He wasn't asked to be included in the festivities and gives no particular reason for this, but I suspect the fact that he's been known to attract bad weather may have had something to do with it; not only has Blondell been struck by lightning more than once, he's had his share of close calls on a plane, a van, and the bus on his first day of school. He'll have to content himself with his band and Jake Andrews', as well as studio work, including recent stints on McDonald's commercials ("that was actually pretty fun") and Ani DiFranco's latest album. Well, we're assuming it's the new album; when I told him I'd just read a review in SPIN for her new album, he was stunned since he'd only finished recording his horn parts about six weeks ago. I read some song titles off to see if we were talking about the same material, but his reply to that was, "Learning song titles is for sissies."

Back (finally) to the Tornado Jam. Last Thursday's fundraiser, featuring acts such as Storyville, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, the Toadies, Tripping Daisy, and Harry Connick, Jr. (seen recently sitting in with Elias Haslanger at Cedar Street), was a rousing success, selling out quickly, raising a phenomenal amount of money, and providing the local TV news folks with a way to make it look like they're hip to local music while getting one more chance to milk that disaster footage. The official take was $68,500, with an additional donation from Southwestern Bell bringing the total up to nearly $94,000. Take that, Bill Clinton!

Break Up, Make Up

"It's time to give it a shot and play some music," says Kevin McKinney of Soulhat. (Or is it back to the bi-word Soul Hat again?) The long-split groovers have one definite gig set for Stubb's on June 24, and possibly more to come. The big question, however, continues to be whether founding member Bill Cassis is part of the act. The answer is yet to be determined, as McKinney says the rest of the band is still playing phone tag with Cassis. "So far, we haven't worked it out," says he of Shat Records.

Loose Diamonds are having what might best be described as a "loose breakup." Band members Troy Campbell and "Scrappy" Jud Nelson say that the group will now be taking a back seat to their solo and side ventures. Says Campbell, "We need to grow, and we don't have to break up the band to do it." The band's hiatus "begins with a bang" say the Diamonds, with a slot at Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic, and the group continuing to make infrequent appearances.

Finally, drunk-rockers Cattleguard have decided to call it a day (or night). Several of the members plan to continue to perform together, but Brit Jones says, "I'm just going to be a loser for a while before I get around to being a musician again." Hmmph! As if a guy can't be both.

Production Notes

Hot on the heels of finishing up his own second album for MCA (due out around October, with no title chosen yet), Craig Ross has been producing tracks with Malcolm Burn in New Orleans for recent Capitol signees the Don Piper Situation. Yes, you're right, that is the Don Piper from long-gone Austin pop band Balloonatic, who split town, formed a new combo, and got signed to the big "C" all in less than two years. Ross couldn't have been a tough choice for producer, as he helmed Balloonatic's Headcleaner cassette several years ago, but says other producers may be involved before all the album's tracks are done.

Meanwhile, it looks like the tracks Brian Beattie produced for Daniel Johnston have been permanently nixed for release by Atlantic Records. Beattie says he was surprised recently when the label actually sent him a small sum of money for his efforts, which were made without benefit of any sort of contract, and adds that he's heard that Atlantic now plans to fly Johnston out to New York with producer Paul Leary (who recently twiddled knobs in the Big Apple with the Refreshments) to get started on a new album. Johnston confirms there's been talks of such plans and that he's busy writing songs, but says he hasn't heard anything from Atlantic regarding the matter. Beattie currently has his hands full producing new material with Kathy McCarty and Seela, and may be working on Wammo's next album.

And speaking of McCarty, she's been having adventures of her own recently. She escaped the tornado attack by making a quick trip to L.A. where she met fan Matt Groening after a performance. Poking the Simpsons creator repeatedly in the chest (or at least that's what she did to me when she recounted the story), she bemoaned the whims of fate to him regarding appearances by Sonic Youth and Smashing Pumpkins on the animated show' "Homerpalooza" crying, "That should've been meee!" (Next time, it might be, as she says Groening offered her a future voice-over spot.) McCarty continues to do her damnedest to get on the boob tube, though; while in Los Angeles, she narrowly got edged out of an appearance on Jeopardy! (I hear she blew it on a pop music question. For shame!)

It's apparently only a stone's throw from the Saxon Pub to L.A., at least in the eyes of Monte Montgomery. After meeting Rolling Stones producer Ron Froboli at the Saxon, Montgomery went off to California to check out some producers for his long-awaited album, and thought Froboli would make a worthy addition to the list. The producer invited Montgomery to meet him at Oceanview Studio, but warned him that there would probably be nobody interesting around. That nobody interesting turned out to be all the Stones. Montgomery says he didn't get to play for the guys, but he did find that Froboli and the band had been listening to his tapes.

Mixed Notes

Jay Hughey, co-owner (still!) of the once fire-gutted Electric Lounge, thought he'd been visited by the Fire Demon yet again Monday night when the description and location of a burning car outside appeared to match that of his vehicle. It turned out to be someone else's ride, though the Hole in the Wall's Debbie Rombach got some lovely paint-blistering on her car since it was parked nearby. The best line of the night went to a cane-wielding homeless guy who had been standing by the little import when it burst into flame; he was later heard telling his buddies, "If any of you tells the S.S.I. [supplemental security income] people that you saw me running that fast, I'm gonna be in big trouble!"...

The La Zona Rosa gang isn't ready to talk details at this time, but they're looking into enclosing the patio section of the venue and turning the whole place into a nice all-indoor club. Currently they're working with the city on what measures will be required to do this properly. Says the club's Charlie Jones, "La Zona Rosa has gone through a lot of bad changes [during its several incarnations] and we hope to do it right this time." The Zona crew is denying rumors of a name change to "The Back Stage," a title which apparently appeared on a document regarding a band scheduled to play at their address...

CD releases: Hunter Sullivan at the Joint on Turtle Creek today (Thursday), Soak at Liberty Lunch on Saturday, and 81/2 Souvenirs and Toni Price share a live on-air release party on KGSR Friday from 10pm-midnight...

The new Janis Joplin musical Love Janis makes its premiere at the Zachary Scott Theatre this Saturday at 8pm. A premiere party will follow at Threadgill's (the old one) and special guests at the party will include Janis' sister and brother Laura and Michael Joplin as well as members of Big Brother and the Holding Company...

Why did the Dogstar show get started late at Liberty Lunch last Saturday night? I've heard tell it's because Keanu Reeves and his pals, along with middle band Silver Jet, just couldn't tear themselves away from that ol' Johnny Depp hangout, Sugar's (I certainly hope opening locals Dexter Freebish had more class). I do know that when I checked by the Lunch at 9pm there was already a decent head count in the club (Who would've thought any of Keanu's shrieking fans would've arrived more than 10 seconds before Reeves hit the stage? Obviously the baffled, empty-pocketed scalper hanging around outside did!)...

Mike's from Texas, Micky's late mom lived in the Hill Country, but I can't think of any connection between Peter Tork and Austin. I'm still telling you to go see the least prolific/most musically adept Monkee at the Cactus Cafe next Thursday, June 19, because, well, I just think he's pretty cool. Hey, hey!

- Contributors: Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser

The 2021-2022 Austin Music Awards Music Poll is underway. Vote now for your favorite bands, venues, and music until January 31.

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