Dancing About Architecture

The Road to Winville

"Why should Central Texans find the faces at the Grammys familiar this year?" asked one local TV station on their evening newscast this week. The answer, after the usual interminable wait through weather, sports, and commercials, was a 10-second listing of the three or four locally familiar names that were announced by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences on Tuesday. In truth, a grand total of 23 Texas-born or Texas-based recording artists received a total of 26 Grammy nominations (see, that local branch of NARAS came in handy, didn't it?). Shawn Colvin got three nods, with "Sunny Came Home" from A Few Small Repairs up for "Record of the Year" and "Best Female Pop Performance." In the "Best Female Rock Performance" category (note the difference), Abra Moore's "Four Leaf Clover" from Strangest Places earned a nomination; not too shabby for your major label debut, plus Sarah McLachlan put her as Number One on her year-end list in the latest Rolling Stone. Dallas girl Erykah Badu positively cleaned up, garnering nominations for "Best New Artist," "Best R&B Album" (Baduizm), "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance," and "Best R&B Song" ("On & On"). Kirk Franklin's Nu Nation and their God's Property was all over the place as well, with nominations for "Best Gospel Album by a Choir or Chorus," "Choir Director," "Producer of the Year (Non-Classical)," and "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal ("Stomp")." And fear not, young white Texan males even made their way onto the list with Pantera getting a nod for "Best Metal Performance" ("Cemetery Gates"). Nevertheless, Grammy loves Texans best when they keep their mouth shut -- didn't you expect the following two nominations? Eric Johnson in the "Best Rock Instrumental Performance" (for "S.R.V.") and Asleep at the Wheel in the "Best Country Instrumental Performance" (for "Fat Boy Rag")? Naturally, a number of familiar country artists on the list are from Texas: LeAnn Rimes, Clint Black, Willie Nelson, George Strait, George Jones, and Lee Roy Parnell all make appearances. In some of the categories you're not likely to pay much attention to (but should), there are a number of Lone Star picks, among them Joe Sample for "Best Contemporary Jazz Performance," and Roy Hargrove's Crisol in the "Best Latin Jazz Performance" category. In all things Latin, there's "En Tus Manos" by La Mafia up for "Best Mexican-American/Tejano Music Performance," and the blues category finds Boz Scaggs up for "Best Contemporary Blues Album" with Come On Home. Guy Clark is up for "Best Contemporary Folk Album" (Keepers -- A Live Recording), Walter Cronkite was nominated for "Best Spoken Word Album" (A Reporter's Life ), and rounding things out was Gene Autry, whose Sing, Cowboy, Sing! The Gene Autry Collection was nominated for "Best Historical Album." Speaking about the historical, Bobby Fuller gets the bold ink treatment for landing in the "Best Recording Package -- Boxed" for the compilation Shakedown! The Texas Tapes Revisited. Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind was nominated for "Album of the Year," "Best Contemporary Folk Album," and "Best Male Rock Vocal Performance" and bears mentioning because the album was so Texas-friendly -- Augie Meyers and Cindy Cashdollar to name the two that come to mind. Hell, Ani Difranco's "Shy," nominated for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" was mixed in Austin (best not to go down that path though, or we'll be here until next year's nominations). Finally, I'd better mention the "Best Liner Notes" category, wherein Chronicle columnist Michael Ventura is up, along with Mark Kemp and Ben Edmonds, for their work on the Phil Ochs Farewells & Fantasies box set Rhino put out earlier this year. Okay, so I went a little more in-depth than the TV news, but you probably saw a few names that were unfamiliar (as well as familiar ones that you didn't know were Texan), and for all long-engrained lameness of the Grammys, it's actually not a bad list to show the breadth of music that comes out of the Bluebonnet State these days.

Out of the Asylum?

Christina Marrs of the Asylum Street Spankers confirms what the band's Guy Forsyth-less performance last Friday hinted at -- Forsyth is no longer an official ASS. Jokes are already spreading that he was fired for agreeing to do endorsements for an amplifier manufacturer, but the simple truth, says Marrs, is that the band required full commitment towards its goal of assembling a musical revue to take off-Broadway, and that Forsyth's solo career left him unable to pledge such a commitment. The departing spanker will be making appearances with Marrs & co. until the band finds someone to "fill his shoes." The band continues to assemble their revue and hopes to present a rough version (sans costumes and set) for their regular Wednesday night crowd at the Electric Lounge later this month. Meanwhile, Antone's Records says that Forsyth continues to work on a new album for them.

Gatlin' Along Just Fine

Don Walser says it's all done but the mixin' when it comes to his next album, Down at the Sky-vue Drive-in. The Ray Benson-produced disc will be the first under the joint aegis of local indie Watermelon and the Warner Bros.-distributed/Seymour Stein-run Sire label (of course you remember this is the same agreement under which the Derailers' Reverb Deluxe was released recently). Watermelon confirms a release date of March 24 for Walser's album, adding yet another guest, Larry Gatlin, to the long list of those who have already lent their talent to the local country legend's latest release; Gatlin also sat in during the Pure Texas Band's regular Monday gig at Babes for good measure. Walser still counts the track he did with the Kronos Quartet as his favorite on the disc, though, declaring, "I'm so proud of it I don't know what to do!"

Happy New Year! The Music Industry's Dead!

Well, maybe not as such, but there are those who are predicting further woes for those making a living (or hoping to) from the musical arts. Yep, seems corporate America is stepping in again -- in a big way (and I'm not just talking about private parties at the Erwin Center with Stevie Wonder). Remember a few years ago when the race was on to swallow up record labels, big and small, assembling them into the biggest conglomerations possible? Well, it's hard to believe that a few weeks ago, I was weighing whether Star Tickets branching out to Dallas merited an item in this column (in the end, the answer was "no.") Now, as 1998 dawns, the massive SPX Broadcasting, Inc. corporation has swept through the country purchasing nearly every major concert promoting organization available, including San Fransisco's Bill Graham Presents and more recently, PACE Concerts in Houston. According to the Houston Chronicle, some of the cash will come from the company's declared sale of the 71 radio stations to the Dallas-based investment company Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst (a deal worth a reported $2 billion). In the article, SFX representatives say that PACE will continue to operate as an autonomous unit. One local promoter who asked not to be identified, however, likens SFX's wholesale buyout of the nation's promotions companies to the abovementioned record label chaos and the current state of that industry. And just think, you feel organized if you remembered to bring an extra set of strings to your gig.

Mixed Notes

If your neighbor has already gotten their acceptance letter from South by Southwest for a showcase at this year's music festival, but you haven't, don't fret. Brent Grulke says that the first wave of notes has gone out, and that he would like to see the rest in the post within 10 days, but describes the possibilities of that happening as very slim. You should get a "yea" or "nay" from SXSW by the end of the month, but even then, remain patient; calling and bugging them is, shall we say, not the best way to get on their good side...

Kelly Willis may have jammed recently with both Steven Seagal and Banana Blender Surprise, but it's the latter who have plans to mix with a true rock & roll legend, as they've been chosen to be Chuck Berry's backup band when he appears in Galveston on Valentine's Day. Be sure and watch Hail, Hail; Rock and Roll a few times before the show, boys, and actually, I've got another Berry video in my collection that you might want to check out before you shake his hand...

Oh, that upcoming show at the Ranch Studios that I wrote about just before Christmas is a triple bill of Sugar Ray/ Goldfinger/ Save Ferris. You may know the last of the three bands for their cover of "Come On Eileen," which as we all know is the punchline to the joke "What's white and sticky and runs down a dress?" That show is set for March 1 ...

Look for the new Celebration! CD out this week from the Fuckemos on Frank Kozik's Man's Ruin label. That label has also just issued a lovely multicolored vinyl 10-inch by the band...

Well, the Damned are actually coming to town, due on February 19 at the Atomic Cafe, and from the Web I've gleaned that original members Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian are both along (for the moment)...

The fate of the Blue Flamingo would seem to remain uncertain; as far as what's not happening, the TABC tells me that no new liquor licence has been applied for at the club's location...

Dragsville, the surf/instrumental show on KOOP from 5-6pm most Saturdays, will be airing live performances on January 10, 17, and 24 by Squid Vicious, Herman the German, and Three Balls of Fire, respectively. Keep an eye out for a CD of some of those live recordings (and previous ones from Soda Pop Spys, Sir Finks, and the Crabs) to be released in the spring...

Borders kicks off the year today, Thursday, with in-stores by Jud Newcomb at 8pm, Deb Yeager on Friday, 8pm, and Rumbullion on Saturday also at 8pm...

Have you seen Bill Wise's performance in that commercial for the Austin Lyric Opera? Remember, when he starts using that slogan of his that it was in this column where he was first proclaimed as "the Dick Shawn of the Nineties!"

-- 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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