Dancing About Architecture

Whither Austin or: Funny, It Looks Bigger on TV

I admit it: I have no idea what's happened recently in Austin. After all, I only caught a few minutes of MTV's all-day airing of the Sports and Music Fest on Saturday, and missed Austin Stories altogether. From what I could tell of the former, the main thing the S&M Fest proved was that even our local youth have become jaded and unresponsive enough to make up a typical Austin live music audience; you could practically hear the MTV crew, as they shovelled tons of faux snow in the blazing Texas heat, grumbling "Why the fuck didn't we schedule this thing for Fort Lauderdale?" Not that our (unpaid) local bands at the festival became part of the "another musician gets screwed" local curse; some, most notably the Pocket FishRmen, actually got screen time during the occasional promo. Better still, somebody at MTV, either by accident or solidarity with the "Live Music Capital of the World," found time during one of the channel's Eighties blocks to run the little-seen video for the Reivers' "In Your Eyes." Who said Austin never gets national exposure?

Far less exposed is San Antonio, where I was again this weekend, talking to Jordan Silber, who once owned the White Rabbit on Sixth Street and now has what Paul Sessums would call the "Big" White Rabbit on S.A.'s party drag. He was pointing out that the current lawsuit by ESSCA against the City of Austin in regards to the sound ordinance (see last week's column) is the same battle that clubs in San Antonio fought -- and won -- a couple of years ago. That battle resulted in S.A. switching to a "vibration ordinance," which means that the cops just stand outside a club and if they decide they feel a tingle (and I don't mean Lisa Tingle) they can issue a citation." Silber also noticed my surprise when, dropping by the White Rabbit a little after 12:30am on a Friday night, I found the show was already over (no big whoop -- I'd already seen the Fixx years ago) and the club rapidly emptying. "Hey, this isn't Austin," he deftly retorted, "People here have to go to bed early so they can get up in the morning and do crimes."

History Is Written
by the Victors

It's likely you weren't aware that the Victory Grill opened on "Victory Over Japan Day" in 1945. In fact, it's likely that you've never even set foot in the Victory Grill, which is a shame. Any serious student of Austin music should visit the place, which is the last remaining building from East Austin's live music heydey, and serves well as a museum of those times. It'll serve even better soon, since the city voted unanimously to give the club a historical designation; besides music history, the Victory also rates in the annals of black history as part of the famous "Chitlin Circuit," but that's another story. Basically, says the club's proprietress Eva Lindsey, the historical designation of Johnny Holmes' postwar club means that after tenuous survival over the last half-century, the Grill definitely "won't be going away" -- there's no longer a threat of musicians at the club finding a team of bulldozers as their opening act. If it's ever crossed your mind that Grey Ghost was once a young man, head over to 1104 East 11th and check it out. As with any venue, you can check out our club listings to see who's playing there.

Last Chance BBQ

Okay, I cheated a bit last week when I wrote that the deadline for the 1998 South by Southwest Music Conference (March 18-22) was coming up fast, and that you could get a showcase application by calling 512/467-7979, faxing 451-0754, checking the web at http://www.sxsw.com, or writing PO Box 4999, Austin, TX 78765 (and that you needed to do this before November 15 with a $20 processing). All that was true, but anyone in the music biz in this town knows that there's always a second deadline for everything -- otherwise, writers and musicians would never get anything turned in. So, here's the rest of the story: Next Tuesday is the annual last minute submission get-together at Ruby's Barbecue (29th and Guadalupe) from 6pm-midnight. As always, if you're new in town, don't dig into the beans without checking your fire threshhold first. Oh, and by the way, don't forget that the SXSW Film Festival is looking for music videos as well.

Cool Air, Hot Weekends

Did I say festival? As usual, there's plenty to choose from in Austin this weekend: There's the four-night Austin International Music Extravaganza starting up next Tuesday at St. Edward's University with Karison, Feyyat Gokae, Gaijin, Aphrodite, East Babylon Symphony, M.O.O.K., Graywolf, and Dr. L.L.Muldrow. Two nights later, Thursday, the Fred Sanders Trio, along with Shirley Dominguez, Gregory Boyd, Gypsies, Beauford Anderson, Zong Ti Lin, Ras Iginga, and Mario Garza are all at the Dougherty Arts Center (more on that next week). The Austin Acoustic Music Festival finally arrives this year, not on AM15, but at the Electric Lounge with everyone from Karen Tyler to the Bells of Joy -- something like 50 acts between Friday and Sunday (see the club lisings for the exhaustive collection of names). There's also yet another beer-oriented event this weekend: the Texas Brewers Festival at Fourth and Colorado, featuring Swing Set, Reckless Kelly, Guy Forsyth, Two Hoots & a Holler, and Pat Green on Saturday, and the Fence Cutters, Danglers, Borrowers, and Hillbilly Cafe on Sunday. Alright, everybody start drink... uh, getting in the holiday spirit.

Mixed Notes

Now that it's "official," I suppose I should report that Will and Charlie Sexton have hooked up with A&M for the long-awaited Sexton Brothers project. Recording begins in January...

Don Walser is off to Santa Fe this week for the shooting of the Woody Harrelson flick Hi-Lo Country. He'll be featured in a dance hall scene for the film, which also stars Willie Nelson, Rip Torn, and Patricia Arquette. That makes Four Stars!...

It's the battle of the century! Chris Duarte vs. the King! B.B. King, that is. With Duarte's sample-laden version of "The Thrill Is Gone" attempting to find its proper place on the radio, King has just released his duet of the same song with Triple A radio fave Tracy Chapman. Duarte manager Joe Priesnitz says that both takes on the King classic are receiving airplay, and he hopes that "eventually we'll wear 'em down." Meanwhile, Duarte will be out playing some dates with Gov't Mule...

Things are always vague when it comes to the Butthole Surfers, but their management confirms that a new album is close to being finished and is scheduled for release early next year. By "early" they only mean before the third quarter for sure (until that changes, right?). Paul Leary and Kyle Ellison of the Surfers are among those included in the S.I.M.S. Foundation's latest project, the 1998 Austin Guitar Calendar, which also features shots of Ian Moore, Alejandro Escovedo, W.C.Clark, Eric Johnson, and a host of others. The pics I've seen all look great, though the one of Joe Ely looks a bit like he's preparing to respond to a New York cabbie that gave him the finger. Ellison is also playing another foundation benefit, a gig with Curt Kirkwood at the Cactus Cafe tonight, Thursday. They'll no doubt be teasing us with material from the still-unnamed project they've gotten together. If those two aren't already enough to pack 'em into the li'l Cactus, the ARC Welders and Alejandro Escovedo are also on the bill (and you thought nothing ever happened on the UT campus)...

You can count Wilco among the bands who've been seen lately out at Pedernales studio. They're recording some new material for their label, Reprise...

Shine has a new bass player -- remember original Dangerous Toys bassist Mike Watson?...

Miss Laura is having a birthday bash (which birthday I can't say -- I'd never dare ask a lady her age), but naturally it's too big an affair to be contained in her tiny Blue Flamingo. Hop across the street to the Atomic Cafe this Friday instead, where the Assholes, Fuckemos, Econoline, Piss Poor, and Classified will be making pretty
b-day music and Miss Xanna Don't will be emceeing. The $4 cover benefits the ACLU...

Die Laughing (formerly the Thorns, formerly formerly Marble Index) is now called Cloud Eater. This would probably be a new record if it weren't for Hey Zeus/Black Irish/Wheel Local 404, etc...

Christmas approaches fast, with an in-store tonight at Waterloo Records (Thursday, 5pm) for I'll Be Home For Kwanzaa on Mark Katz's Bagel Label. That's right, I'm talking about a Jewish guy putting out an album of all black artists singing songs about having a white Christmas...

Is it Oasis vs. Blur? No, that bitching you hear in the distance is the insurgent feud between Whiskeytown and the Old 97s. The Dallas Morning News recently reported on the battle between the two bands, which apparently flared up during a New York City gig wherein the 97s' Rhett Miller whined to a reporter about getting a cold shoulder from the crowd, adding that his band hadn't been helped any by Whiskey man Ryan Adams "moan[ing] to the crowd about having to cut its set short in order to make way for the band with `the fake Texas accents.'" The DMN suggested that perhaps Whiskeytown should add Kitty Wells' "Jealousy" to their set...

Local label Deep Eddy Records has just released the debut CD from San Antonio surfers Soda Pop Spys...

Remember I told you a while back that Fabulous Thunderbirds vocalist Kim Wilson was starting up his own label? Well, the label is Blue Collar Music, and it's now being distributed through Select-O-Hits in Memphis. According to the latest Billboard, Wilson has the label up and running, and Blue Collar's first three releases -- albums by Wilson, pianist Fred Kaplan, and singer/guitarist/harp player Big Al Blake -- should be in stores as of this week...

Oh, and the Adults' new one is out now (it wasn't ready in time for the release party)...

The Electromagnets re-release is thisclose to confirmed with Rhino Records, with plans calling for two live tracks bonus tracks to be added to the original 1975 album put out by Eric Johnson and company. "If all goes well," says the guitarist's manager, Joe Priesnitz, "we should have something out next spring." Hmmm. I never said a word...

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

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

Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

So Long, Slug
So Long, Slug

Ken Lieck, Dec. 20, 2002

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