Dancing About Architecture

ACL on the Record or: Heard But Not Seen

With the Labor Day weekend just passed, the calender flips from August to September, and suddenly retail stores are gearing up for the Christmas season -- long, long before you even want to think about winter holidays. Around these parts, the still-blistering heat tends to make people forget that, yes, summer is over, but for the bulk of the world the clock is ticking steadily toward snowflakes and sugarplums. This holds especially true in the music business, where major labels are scrambling to make vital decisions about when to release new albums. Traditionally, the big guns like to release gift-oriented box sets and guaranteed mega-selling albums in the last couple months of the year (Best of Michael Jackson? Gee, thanks, mom, this is much better than the new Kacy Crowley CD I wanted).

Nowhere has this habit caused more headaches than at Austin City Limits, which had scheduled its Portrait in Blues: An Austin City Limits Special for a PBS airdate in December. Sony Records, whose deal with ACL calls for an accompanying CD in concordance with the program, put the kibosh on that plan; just as TV stations have their fall season schedules, Sony has its own fall schedule, one that doesn't seem to allow for limited-appeal blues compilations to come out in December. Now, ACL producer Terry Lickona finds himself having to put the special on hold while PBS finds time in its schedule early next year, which is when Sony has slated the CD's release. To make things more frustrating, like most of the station's previous specials, Sony will not be releasing this one on video.

That's right; though people have long yearned for commercially released videos of the show, and the Sony deal seemed primed to fulfil those yearnings, only the first ACL special/Sony album, Country Music's Finest Hour, ever found its way onto magnetic tape. "It's not really Sony's fault," says Lickona, noting that when the label made a deal for exclusive rights to the show's

library, they had no idea that the bottom would fall out of the market for long-form home video. Finest Hour "didn't do squat" in video sales, says Lickona, and though "as a producer it's disappointing; we've been getting calls from viewers asking for a video series for years," he admits that the market just won't support the ACL specials at this time. (The Stevie Ray Vaughan retrospective was not part of the series.)

Of the yet-unscheduled blues special, Lickona says it's the one he's most been looking forward to, and though he still needs clearance on many of the acts he'd like to feature, those being looked at are Buddy Guy, Lightnin' Hopkins, Albert Collins, and an SRV performance of "Lovestruck Baby" that wasn't used on the retrospective. Coming next, says Lickona, is a special on great guitarists, which he says will probably cover all genres in the ACL vaults, from Eric Johnson to Roy Buchanan. Just remember to get it ready before Labor Day, Terry.

All in the Timing Part I

Look for Bruce Robison's Wrapped album in stores near you soon. What? You've already seen it in stores near you? Well, then, start looking for it in stores far away from you. Robison released the disc on his own Boar's Head label last June for distribution in Texas and through the Internet, but he's now signed a deal with Sony Nashville, and the first step of their plan is to re-release Wrapped nationally. In this case, Sony plans to rush the album out in early November and beat the Christmas moratorium -- much to Robison's surprise. "They say they're gonna do it," he says, "but my manager and I find it hard to believe." The rush doesn't bother Robison one whit, though, as he figures his career at Sony will be a slow build, anyway. He's planning to do some touring in support of the re-Wrapped album, after which he'll get straight to work on some new material for the label.

All in the Timing Part II

Look for a live album from the series of Lilith fairs to also squeeze out before the December moratorium, and look for Abra Moore to be on it. Co-manager George Couri reports that all is rosy for Moore, whose appearances in the festival, as well as dates with 3rd Eye Blind and Collective Soul have all sold out, and that she was called back for the final Lilith show in Vancouver to record tracks for inclusion on the live CD. The main question now is what label will be releasing the disc; it would seem to be some permutation of Arista, Network, and/or Sara McLachlan's new label. Currently, Couri says Moore is "about two weeks off" from starting work on a video for "Strangest Places." Moore is then off to Europe for some touring, but you'll be able to see her stateside in an ad campaign for Visa, which I've been assured she's doing for the exposure, because she didn't make a penny. Oh, great. Another "musician getting screwed" story.

All in the Timing (Epilogue)

"There's really nothing new to report" on the Derailers front, says Eric Zappa at Watermelon Records, but any hopes of getting an agreement with Sire (or not) and putting their Reverb Deluxe album in stores before the end of the year are rapidly being dashed; the originally planned release date, before Sire came into the picture, was July 1. Not that this has stopped the band from, uh, supporting the album with heavy touring, which they've been doing since early August and will continue to do until November -- look for a rare local appearance at Stubb's with Wayne Hancock on Friday. Don Walser, meanwhile, officially on Sire, should have his album come out in the first couple of months of next year (like Sixteen Deluxe). The track with the Kronos Quartet is done, says Zappa, but the label is still trying to get the Walser/ k.d.lang duet together. They'd better do that fast, or next thing you know, SXSW will be coming up, sending the schedules of the record companies into yet another tizzy.

Chalet McKay

Hmmph! And I thought going tubing on the Guadalupe last Sunday made for a nice little holiday. Kris McKay, however, just ran off for a 10-day jaunt in the south of France, where she'll be staying at Chateau Maroutte, a for-real castle, courtesy of Mr. Miles Copeland. Besides the Ark 21 label, Copeland also owns the Bugle Publishing Group, so he's been trooping songwriters to the castle retreat for what actually isn't a vacation but rather intensive songwriting sessions. McKay is joining the likes of Belinda Carlisle, Jane Weidlin, Kim Richie, Duke Aaronson, Howard Jones, Pat McDonald, and possibly Carole King and Maia Sharpe (previous attendees have included Ted Nugent, Jill Sobule, Peter Frampton, and Cher). McKay credits Martin Hanlon at Hamstein with getting her into the invitation-only roundtable (pun intended), which features a Cordon Bleu chef and an honest-to-gosh moat. The writers will spend their time in rotating groups of three, writing and demoing songs together. Says McKay, "It's a big boon to me to be thrust into a situation where I have to write a song every day." Watch out, though, Kris. I hear Copeland gets a piece of all those songs, and that those who fall out of favor end up on that fancy French menu. So, if you find yourself thinking, "Hmmmm, this sure tastes like Meat Loaf..."

Mixed Notes

For those still asking "Just where does Junior Brown live these days?" the answer seems to be the same as the one for "Where does a 900 pound gorilla sleep?" -- anywhere he wants. Leah Wilkes, who recently interviewed Brown for Cake magazine, says the number she was given for him was in Oklahoma. Other reliable sources say he hasn't sold his Austin home, though... "...

Some people think there has been enough outcry -- I think different." So says Austin Music Network's Tim Hamblin, calling to let folks know that the Monday, September 8 public hearing at the city council chambers from 3-8pm is your last chance to get your two cents worth in on keeping the AMN on the air... ...

Since it doesn't look like Tonio K. is putting out anything new soon, fans may want to look for something old instead. Gadfly Records, the label that's been re-releasing his back catalogue has come up with Ole, a "lost" album recorded in '89-'90, with a cast of supporting musicians that included Paul Westerberg, David Hidalgo, Peter Case, Charlie Sexton, and Booker T., Bruce Thomas of the Attractions, and was produced by T-Bone Burnett...

Another former Austinite, the late Ronnie Lane of the Faces, gets a 12-page feature in the September issue of Mojo magazine. Lane's former bandmate Ian McLagan, meanwhile, continues to tear things up every Tuesday night at the Saxon Pub, where he was overheard last week giving his blunt opinion of his old pals the Rolling Stones and the fact that they can't be bothered to come to Austin (The closest they're coming is Ft. Worth on November 1)...

When's the last time you saw half of Scratch Acid in one place? Try this bill at Emo's on Monday, when Sangre de Toro featuring Brett Bradford and SisteRuNaked with Rey Washam will both be playing. There's also a rumor that Randy "Biscuit" Turner will be making a now-rare musical appearance (he did a song with Sangre at their last Blondie's gig)...

Some in-stores: The Barbers at Tower Records, Saturday, 2pm, Kinky Friedman and the Geezinslaws at Barnes and Noble, Saturday, 3pm, and at Waterloo Records, the Kelley Deal 6000 at 5pm followed by Wayne Hancock at 6:30pm...

Liberty Lunch's Mark Pratz was glad he already had their turntables set up when the Sugar Hill Gang showed up at the last minute for their gig at the club on Friday night. That was until he found out they use a DAT machine instead. Our own Andy Langer woke up Sara Trexler and procured the necessary equipment from nearby (for now) 101X...

Those troublemakers Crash Worship have found a home at (where else) the Voodoo Lounge tonight (Thursday). Along with them will be Duarte 6 from Tucson (Say "hi" to Junior for me), and a band featuring Gary and Lyman from Ed Hall, who plan to announce their name on the night of the show (and we can only hope it won't be something like "And They Will Know Us By The Trail of Goin' Along Feeling Just Fines"...

Okay, Wookie guys, I'll mention your free show with Starfish and Ant Man Bee at Blondies this Friday starting at 7pm, but please send something besides plastic babies next time. They're all over the damn office already...

-- 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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