Dancing About Architecture

Happy Anniversary, Baby

It's always something, isn't it? With Antone's finally moved to a better location and their christening celebration taking place this weekend, Clifford Antone's troubles with the law have returned. A statement from the U.S. Department of Justice named Antone as one of five Austin and El Paso defendants indicted on federal drug charges. Specifically, Antone is accused of one count of conspiracy to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute, 10 counts of possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, and six counts of money laundering. The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to distribute, between March of 1993 and 1996, in excess of one thousand kilograms of marijuana (a metric ton to you and me) in the Western District of Texas and elsewhere. In the cases of Antone and one fellow defendant, they're charged with laundering nearly $1 million. The statutory punishment on conspiracy charges, if Antone is convicted, ranges from 10 years to life imprisonment.

The charges against Antone and the other four defendants are the latest result of a two-year investigation by a number of city, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. To date, 28 people have been charged with involvement and 19 of those have already pled guilty to federal charges. "It's crazy," sighs Antone, "because all you do is work and you're broke and you get in trouble in the middle of all that." He adds what some justice system-savvy readers may already be thinking: that one of the previously charged individuals has falsely implicated him into the drug ring via plea bargain.

Wednesday morning, Antone appeared, along with his co-defendant and cousin, Mikal Habaab Amuny, before U.S. magistrate Stephen Capelle to hear the charges against him. Antone pled "not guilty" to all charges, and his lawyer Dick DeGuerin (famous for his defense of former Jesus-wannabe David Koresh) swiftly arranged for his release on a $50,000 bond and asked to proceed to the arraignment.

"I'll definitely be tied up in [the case]," says Antone about his present plans, adding, "but I'm gonna keep doing my job." Fortunately, one of the conditions of his release is that he retain employment.

So, what happens to the Antone's club, label, and record store now? Contrary to what the local TV news has been reporting, in all three cases the answer would appear to be pretty much nothing. Previous TABC charges have left Antone unable to keep the club in his own name, nor does he have any legal involvement with the other two musical enterprises bearing his name. That's good news, because the ongoing investigation has already resulted in the seizure of more than $4 million in currency, motor vehicles, jewelry, and other assets. The question arises, however, as to whether Antone's the club could be seized if authorities declared that it was involved in the money laundering charge. A source close to Antone and the venue smirks, "I'd like to see anyone manage to accuse a live music nightclub of having enough money to be laundering."

A New Age of Aquarius

Rumors abound of major club activity soon to come east of I-35. The Aquarius Theatre on Pleasant Valley road, according to word on the street, is poised to become the next major live music venue in Austin, comparable to the Austin Music Hall in terms of capacity (2,000-3,000). Lunch Money Productions' J'net Ward allows that "people are looking at [the Aquarius building]" and that the possibility of Lunch Money's involvement is "on the table," but declines to comment further. Bob Woody and Bob Hontz, two Sixth Street business owners said to be behind opening the large Eastside venue, say through a spokesman that they cannot confirm or deny any of the rumors at this time. That spokesman, Wes Lane, who is employed by Woody at the Old Pecan Street Cafe, asserts that "right now, nothing is going on." Chatter has further implied involvement by Denver's famous Fox Theatre nightclub, which had been previously rumored as seeking an Austin location, but Fox's Don Strasburg calls the odds of his working on the Aquarius project "very slim." In fact, given the current economic and musical climate, he says, "It doesn't look too good for us coming down there" in any capacity.

Meanwhile, further east, Black Cat owner Paul Sessums has finally given up trying to get things going with his large club, the proposed Big Black Cat, on east Seventh Street. Sessums has spent most of the last year in Palacios, TX, the town of which he says he now owns one-third, leaving him little time to develop the Big Black Cat property. He and wife Roberta have been busily working to make Palacios the cool place to be, since, up 'til now, Sessums says the town's "been run by a couple of old men. Now it's up to two young 50-year-olds to rejuvenate it." Sessums is back in town for a month working on getting the regular Black Cat on Sixth Street back up to snuff; it will now be closed Sundays and Mondays, with free hot dogs back on Wednesdays (with the Showoffs).

As for the Big Black Cat, Sessums has been looking to sell it off to, of all people, Roland Swenson and South by Southwest. "We're already on the Eastside -- East 40th!" jokes Swenson, adding that "[Sessums] is about a year too late. Unfortunately, we're already building here and we've already spent a lot of money on it." Another SXSW higher-up merely grunts that Sessums' place is "too small." Wanna buy an Eastside club, anyone?

Another Slice o' Walsermelon

Swingin' Don Walser denies rumors that he's suing Watermelon Records, though he admits he's been offered another deal for his next album and is waiting to see if the local label can match it. As far as that album is concerned, Walser says that all but two songs are finished and that it'll feature his Pure Texas Band plus a few guests including Ray Benson. The two tracks waiting to be done include a version of "Rosemarie" (perhaps known best in its Slim Whitman incarnation) featuring the Kronos Quartet, and a proposed tune with the Butthole Surfers ("They're interested, but we can't get ahold of them"). The difficulty in reaching the Buttholes may involve reports that they've been busy with Moby working on a track for the new film, Spawn, whose soundtrack features a bunch of unlikely pairings (a la the Judgment Day soundtrack) like Marilyn Manson & the Sneaker Pimps, and Metallica & the Propellerheads.

Break Up, Make Up, Break Up

If you want to hear loud sarcastic laughter over the telephone, just call up Bill Cassis and ask him if he's in Soulhat. "Funny you should call me up," he finally spat out between chuckles. "I read about that [upcoming] gig in your column." Kevin McKinney says the gig or gigs will go on without the guitarist, while Cassis says he's not currently taking any action to stop them. He adds, however, "I think it's a bad idea. I don't think it's the same band and I don't think it should have the same name."

Mixed Notes

James Henry, former owner of the late, lamented Henry's, has opened a new place in Seward Junction, at the meeting of 183 and 29. Look for a Henry's sign soon and for the music to flow...

Another Henry story: Henry Rollins was spotted backstage before his Liberty Lunch show last weekend being given, shall we say, `lip service' by an eager fan. The Lunch's J'net Ward says Rollins "also got laid on the bus later. The man has some real stamina!"...

Superego bassist and former Bob Mould sideman Andrew Duplantis had his house broken into and two guitars stolen last Monday. If you spot a '92 Gibson Les Paul orange Sunburst bass (#92332342), give a call to Nickel and Dime Productions at 474-2987. A reward is being offered...

Johnny Goudie recently did some writing with former Go-Go's Jane Weidlin and Charlotte Caffey. They met up through Goudie's connection at Hamstien Publishing...

Earthpig almost became the first person (to my memory at least) to release an album recorded at Pharmaco; I swear that either Rick Linklater or Robert Rodriguez made a feature film in there, though. The Pig participated in a study there, and had planned to release the seven songs he had recorded on 4-track while at the facility, but decided against it...

Both the Boxcars (Christine Albert and Chris Gage) and Toni Price have CD release parties at Antone's this week. The former is this Sunday (an early show), the latter Monday. The Boxcars have an in-store even earlier Sunday (3pm) at Borders Books, following a weekend of shows by Austin Guitar School (Thursday, 8pm), Laughing Dogs (Friday, 8pm), and David Halley (Saturday, 8pm)...

Saturday and Sunday are polka weekend out at Settler's Park in Round Rock with the Accordion Kings shows going on there, as well as a workshop for the instrument on Sunday afternoon at 3pm. Hey, come on! It's cool to learn to play the accordion. No, really!...

Fastball plan to get to work on album number two in August with producer Julian Raymond. They'll be doing that out in L.A., where they continue to meet famous people like Brian Wilson and Michael Eisner. Right now, they're more concerned about whether word on their last-minute show with the Wannabes at the Atomic Cafe on Friday gets out...

This Americana radio thing continues to expand. Listeners out near Bandera can now receive Fredricksburg's KFAN-FM, as KEEP in Bandera (98.3FM) has begun simulcasting the KFAN signal... Wunderkind Widgeon is among the artists playing the Guinness Blues Festival in Dublin. He'll be performing all three nights of the festival, July 18-20, and staying in Ireland through September...

Hey, Police Ice! Are you still out there? I got a suggestion for ya: This "Ice" business is long whack -- look at the show by your man Vanilla Ice at Bob Popular's Wednesday. Five bucks a head is all he can bring in these days, G-man! Why not try out this new "Nineties," Snoop Doggy Dogg-approved appellation -- Thaa Phuz!...

Oh, and if one more person e-mails me about this Dark Side of the Moon/Wizard of Oz crap, I'll toss a stoned Munchkin at them!!!

-- 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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So Long, Slug

Ken Lieck, Dec. 20, 2002

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