Dancing About Architecture

Knocking 'em Dead in the Streets

Publicity-wise, Tuesday, November 27 wasn't the best day for Sixth Street. Actually, it wasn't the best night for it, with two separate incidents leading to two separate deaths in the vicinity; one man was stabbed to death in a fight outside the dance club Spirits, while another died of alcohol poisoning after leaving a bar on Congress just up from Sixth. Strangely, a fax arrived at the Chronicle office the following morning from Mark Schaberg of Popular Talent/Bob Popular's, who didn't seem to be involved in either incident, yet noted that "the unfortunate events of last night are isolated and should be treated as such," and that "merchants of the downtown area are constantly striving to make the `World Famous' Sixth Street as safe, friendly and fun as possible." Schaberg explains that the rather panicky-looking note was a result of timing; a group of area businesses called the Friends of Sixth Street (FOSS), of which he is a member, holds its meetings on Wednesdays and that day, "We all walked in with our heads down going, `Jesus Christ!'" The group, which includes a number of large area clubs like Maggie Mae's, Iron Cactus, and the Hang 'Em High Saloon, was just beginning efforts to clear up "misconceptions" about the entertainment district when the two incidents occured, making it even harder for the group to "fight back in a positive way" against what Shaberg sees as a tendency by the media to give a dark turn to stories about Sixth Street; obviously, a pair of violent deaths wasn't exactly what the Friends had been planning on. What they are planning on is hiring a PR firm to do publicity for the area, and Shaberg says FOSS has gotten approval from ESSCA (East Sixth Street Community Association) to install strings of lights from Brazos to Red River as a way of defining the entertainment district. Hey, Mark, why not get together with Danny Crooks and wire speakers up all the way down the street?

'Tis the Season...

...for more music than ever, as celebrations involving a famous birth start to crop up. This Saturday at the Paramount Theatre is the big (I mean mucho grande) celebration of a brown Christmas, "La Nocha Buena," which opens another impressive Texas Folklife Resources series, this one called "The Master Series," featuring Tish Hinojosa, Lourdes Perez, and the Cuban ensemble, Con Rumba Son. That same night, the Hole in the Wall presents a benefit with a twist. It's "Chick Rock" night, and the likes of Quatropaw, Bongo Hate, Deep Sombreros, Punchy, Dimebox, Ant Man Bee, and many others will be performing hits by female artists for Blue Santa, the APD's charitable arm that makes sure toyless children are not forgotten during the holidays (a $5 donation will do instead of a toy, but c'mon, you weren't gonna play with that green plastic baby anyway). And if you want to avoid the Christmas spirit altogether, you can spend that evening at the Bates Motel's Loser Fest, which benefits nothing, except perhaps low self-esteem. Squat Thrust, Chumps, Hug, Fuckemos, and Thighmaster will all perform, and as one Chronicle staffer puts it: "Wow! I know all those guys -- and they are all losers!"

Talk Talk

It's a fact of life that bluesmen tend to hang around with some pretty shady and dangerous people, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds' Kim Wilson is no exception. Unless you've never seen Court TV, you're probably familiar with the famous Jenny Jones murder case (Jones brought a mentally unstable guy on the show using the pretense that someone had a crush on him, and after the crusher turned out to be a gay guy that had been hassling him, he shot the dude). As has been rumored about town, fearless Wilson did in fact appear on Jones' show recently, though he was neither modeling a "makeover" for the follicly impaired, nor being paired up with an unwanted gay lover. Wilson's manager says Jones occasionally has guest musicians assist with the show's "bump" music and allows them to perform a couple of their tunes on the program as well. Wilson got to drag out "Tuff Enuff," as well as show off "Too Much of Everything" from his new Highwater album to Jones' millions of home viewers. Meanwhile, Kinky Friedman hasn't been making himself the most welcome talk show guest of late, at least not in TNN circles. The producer of that cable network's high-rated Crook and Chase program was reportedly fired after a recent appearance by Friedman, during which the author and Texas Jewboy repeatedly offended co-host Lorianne Chase with his big ol' stinky ceegar and salty (or is that crusty?) song titles like "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed."

All Units Return To Bass!

If there's a low end missing from the sounds you hear in local clubs in the future, the problem may not be in your hearing. Alex Napier, the bassist known for his work with the Cobras and the Eager Beaver Boys, is leaving the country for a new home in Spain, which is a helluva lot farther away than Baltimore -- where Hunter Darby has announced plans to move this spring. Since his departure from Big Foot Chester and Spoon and the breakup of the Hickoids, Darby is currently playing in only a piddling four bands (Shoulders, Wannabes, Doe Nuts, and T. Tex Edwards & the Toe Tags), and even though he will continue to tour with the 'bes after he relocates, that still leaves a few groups hitting the "bass wanted" section of the classifieds in upcoming months. Aside from the Wannabes, Darby says he hopes to go into the cartooning field full time (which makes this a good place to note that Too Much Coffee Man's Shannon Wheeler is moving to California soon) and forget about the bass. "It's not like I don't enjoy music," he says, "I just want to do something without three other people involved for a change."

Mixed Notes

Okay, let's get this week's Sandra Bullock spotting out of the way right off the bat: I'm told she was spotted with Dweezil Zappa at Antone's recently. Actually, I wouldn't even bother mentioning that, except that an opera rock (as opposed to rock opera) CD entitled Angelica and featuring Dweez and Eric Johnson just appeared in my box, and I wanted to get this week's Eric reference out of the way as well...

So, what do James McMurtry, Terry Allen, Guy Clark, Peter Rowan, Bad Livers, and the Austin Lounge Lizards have in common? Well, since the Lizards signed a little ol' record contract, the answer is that they all record for Sugar Hill Records. The Lounge Lizards have finished work on their first album for the label, Employee of the Month, and are looking at a release date of February 17. Songs include "Love in a Refrigerator Box" and "Leonard Cohen's Day Job"...

I know there's already been too much talk of dead people and white blues singers in this week's column, but I should mention that rock writer Robert Palmer passed away this week, forever ending the confusion between him and the Power Station guy. Any bets on which Bill Wyman goes first?...

7% Solution are steaming right along while they wait for the labels that have been showing them interest to make a move. "[Capitol Records says] we want to see what you do next," explains the band's James Adkisson, "whatever that means." Right now that means working on a single for Hidden Agenda and two albums, one for a San Antonio label and another scheduled as a self-release for now...

Remember that version of "A Hard Day's Night" that Goldie Hawn and Sir George Martin were in town recording a while back? It turns out the tune is part of a project that Martin is working on as his swan song before retirement. Some industry types are wondering about the famed producer's mental state, since the album of Beatles covers also features the likes of Jim Carrey, Sean Connery, and the soon-to-be-legendary duo of Robin Williams and Bobby McFerrin. Martin is said to be dead serious about the project, but it certainly sounds like this disc (which is still without a label in the U.S.) just might give William Shatner's "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" a run for its money...

What's Austin's favorite Fleetwood Mac album? Why, Tusk, of course. Two local acts appear on the brand new Patron Saints of Pop FM tribute album from Undercover Records, those being the Lucky Strikes taking on Christine McVie's "Never Make Me Cry," and the Gourds hitting Lindsey Buckingham's "I Know I'm Not Wrong." Gourds fans know the band has been covering that song by the "godfather of lo-fi" live for a good while. (BTW, this isn't the trib that FM themselves are working on -- you know, the one they couldn't get permission to use Hole's "Gold Dust Woman" on. My, how times have changed!)...

The new Billboard quotes megasellers Megadeth as being fortunate that "our management educated us on how to study what's current without losing our integrity." Among their studies, according to the magazine, was "listening closely to the Butthole Surfers and their single `Pepper.'" I dunno, guys. You keep listening to the same Buttholes song over and over and you're sure to lose something...

Fastball's Miles Zuniga (everyone together, now: "Shut up, Paul Minor!") reports from the SoCal rock & roll enclave Silver Lake (where's he personally witnessed none other than Beck walking around in leather pants) that he "may have to quit this rock and roll gig" now that he has his SAG card. You can see him soon in the jury box on the ABC series The Practice on an episode that deals with a celebrity's autoerotic asphyxiation. No word on whether the show will be dedicated to INXS' late vocalist Michael Hutchence...

Ana Egge boils down her feelings leading into the holidays as "basically, everything's good." She's been talking to labels like Reprise and publishing companies like EMI, and will hit Washington and New York for shows before heading out on tour with Iris Dement in January. Sounds basically, like everything's good...

Natalie Would, who broke up two years ago, have belatedly released their Felt album, which had been shelved since the split. Look for it on Plastic Bono Band Records...

Finally -- and this will be the absolute last dead guy item in the column this week -- jazz and violin great Stephane Grappelli died this week. You hadn't heard? What's the matter, don't you listen to KUT?

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

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More Dancing About Architecture
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Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

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