Dancing About Architecture

An SOS from AMN (or:) AMN: RFP or RIP? (or:) The MAN comes after the AMN

"If the musical equivalent of S.O.S. [Save Our Springs] doesn't happen, we'll cease to exist." So says Tim Hamblin at the Austin Music Network (AMN) of the possibility of the cable channel's survival after today's (Thursday) council meeting. The council will be considering three alternatives: It can allocate more money so AMN can continue operating when current funding runs out after South by Southwest; It can issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) and contract the channel out to be taken over by a private company; or it can simply kill the network altogether. If the council decides to let private interests take over the channel, there are still some hurdles to clear. First, as Hamblin points out, the current library was assembled using contracts that specify the material be used for nonprofit ventures only; in other words, privatization would mean starting things back at square one. Also, the person with the most comprehensive plan at this time, Rick Melchior, is asking the city for almost as much funding as it would cost to run AMN as a public entity (at least for the first two years of operation; after that he says the costs would lessen). Finally, the city and Time Warner have yet to ferret out under what restrictions a commercial operation would be operating.

All these points may be moot, however, if support for AMN doesn't appear quickly and strongly. Hamblin says he knows people will be thinking, "Didn't we just go through all this six months ago?" so he's not glowing with hope over the Network's future. Also, there's the fact that AMN doesn't have a great deal of friends among the Council, with only Jackie Goodman being vocally supportive and Gus Garcia commenting that it's a waste of money. The controversy over AMN has certainly sparked more than its share of armchair politicking on the Internet (see austin.music on Usenet), even to the point of one opponent starting a Disconnect the Austin Music Network (D.A.M.N.) web site. Though today's council meeting is not a public hearing, members of the public may sign up to speak briefly on the matter, and we'll see if AMN's supporters (or opponents, for that matter) will actually make their presence known sufficiently to sway the Council.

Flick of the Wristband

SXSW has announced that wristbands for this year's music festival will be going on sale February 26 for $60, including tax and service charge (that's the same price as last year). There will only be a limited number available at that price before they jump to $95 on March 12. To make sure you want one, they've gone ahead and given me a nice, long list of names to choose from this week, and here's the ones I've chosen to add to those I've already shown you: Tito & Tarantula, Noella Hutton, Swamp Dogg, Pete Droge, Marigold, Delphines, His Name Is Alive, High Llamas, Amy Rigby, Moonshine Willy, Waco Brothers, Spacehog, Liquid Soul, Pee Shy, Robbie Fulks, Jeb Loy Nichols, Volebeats, Zen Guerrilla, Tribe 8, Altan, The Negro Problem, Tina and the B-Side Movement, OP8, Calexico, Richard Davies, Jim White, Delta 72, Stereophonics, Matthew Ryan, Fred Eaglesmith, Perfume Tree, and of course, the Fleshtones.

Pissin' in the Kegger?

Don't panic. The tale is going around that record company parties during SXSW (the most important and well-attended events of the Conference, inevitably) are doomed because the Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission (TABC) has begun enforcing laws against giving away beer in establishments that serve alcohol. SXSW Jack of all trades Steve Chaney says there's nothing to worry about, though. First, says Chaney, the TABC has been enforcing the law for years, and second, "It's only illegal if you don't do it right, and we've been doing it the legal way for five years." Dave Farrell at the TABC offered even less to be concerned about, saying that the law involved would only affect places with full bars, and even then, it's perfectly acceptable for a person or organization to purchase a keg from the bar (as at a wedding reception, to use his example) and let people get cups and drink up. One local expert on the subject adds that the only new crackdowns he's noted from the TABC lately is on "tent festivals," which the state agency has been keeping an eye on for violations involving people bringing or leaving the premises with alcohol, and - unbelievably - on breweries for giving away T-shirts and drinking glasses.

A New Flame In Town

Expect the doors to finally be open again at the Blue Flamingo this Friday. The name has changed slightly to the Blue Flame, and former owner Miss Laura won't be around, though day manager Neil Henry says, "We're gonna remain the same as we were before with Laura." Former Emo's booker Justin McCoy has taken over the band-bagging chores at the "new" Blue (he quit Emo's a week ago and promptly got a call from the new venue after being recommended by a number of bands), and says he's determined to continue the "everything from country to punk rock" aesthetic that he worked towards in his previous position. "We're the little fish at the bottom of the tank," he says, given the club's very limited capacity, but he's planning to start things off with a bang this Friday with a show featuring the Chumps, Judo Nomi (featuring a couple ex-Motards and singer Billy Pringle), and the Commies. The club is calling this whole week its grand opening, but there won't be a great deal of fanfare before next weekend. Also, look for Mondays to be KVRX nights, and for the club to host South by So What (is there a copyright on that name yet?) to "feed off the people [SXSW] brings to the city."

Mixed Notes

Ana Egge is back from touring with Iris Dement, an experience she describes as "awesome," but she won't be hanging around for long. She'll be taking off soon to play at several regional music festivals, including Nashville's NeA Extravaganza (and yes, she'll return for SXSW). While out in California with Dement, Egge took the time to meet some industry types and to record three songs towards what she hopes to be "a strong four-song demo" to give to the major label bigwigs. "I know what the indies are thinking," says Egge, "but I don't know what the majors are thinking, and I ought to find out!"...

Trish Murphy is also heading for the NeA Extravaganza, and even has a track on the promotional The Ex-Files: The Music of the 1998 NeA Extravaganza sampler CD. Manager/husband Charlie Neath is more interested in the upcoming Pop Culture Press sampler, however, as it will feature an unreleased track from Murphy, "Go There." He's not interested, on the other hand, in discussing rumors that a contract with Murphy's name on it may be floating around Columbia Records' business office, offering a very decisive "no comment" on the matter...

The Hamicks will be playing their last show as Austin residents this Saturday at Emo's, with the Chumps, Crackpipes, and the Moleculoids. Almost immediately after, the band takes off on a 70-date, completely self-booked U.S. tour, which will end with the band being residents of Chicago "for an indeterminate amount of time," says Hamick Jonathan Tobin...

AMN isn't the only thing being voted on this week. The Austin Music Commission will be having their elections next Tuesday, and with Carlyn Majer's two-year term as chair about to run out, others are jockeying to fill that position. Steamboat owner and Commission member Danny Crooks says he has submitted himself for the position and has support on the Committee. He also clarifies some recent statements he's made about moving his club from Sixth Street, saying, "I'm not moving unless I find the right building - I'm not going to cut my throat to spite my face." If he finds the right spot, though, he says he's willing to "let Sixth Street die. [The East Sixth Street Community Association] has about killed it anyway"...

There's now a street date for Big Blues Extravaganza: An Austin City Limits Collection ("We're not into short titles" confesses ACL's Laura Bond). Look for that album on April 21, with a corresponding television special to follow on May 27. Keb' Mo will host the show and makes an appearance on the album, which also boasts tracks featuring Lightnin' Hopkins, Gatemouth Brown, B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, W.C. Clark, and both Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan. Not all the performers on the special will be on the album, and vice versa...

Look for The Fat Man and Team Fat tonight (Thursday) at ABCD's, 7pm, where they'll be debuting songs from their new Surf.com CD. Also on the bill is Rockin' Around With Ollie Vee, who will be paying tribute to Buddy Holly...

The Crabs, Fabulous Pimps, Squid Vicious, and the Shakewells will all be performing at this Friday's KOOP/Dragsville benefit. They're calling the event the "Dragsville Surf Soiree"... Johnny Law's new Dan Baird-produced album is about ready, but now you can call the band Twenty Dollar Vibe, and they've got a release party for Independence Day at Waterloo Records at 5pm Friday...

Dosmillard, Leeann Atherton, Killing Ophelia, Humblebums, and Shades of Pearl will play a benefit for shooting victim Alison Kennedy this Saturday at the Waterloo Ice House on Sixth...

Mother Rock Star is, you guessed it, an organization of mothers in the music industry. According to their press release, they "offer services ranging from booking to tour press, retail promotion to radio and more," and they're available to all genres and genders. Who's behind this, you ask? None other than former Austinite Annie Melvin, who is living on a farm in Missouri right now, but is scheduled to return to Austin - with family in tow, including hubby and famous nekkid drummer Snoopy...

The Captain & his Buccaneer Oarkestra have their release party for A Man Overboard this Friday at the Carousel Lounge, 5pm...

You can check out the opening of the Austin Blues Family Tree Photo Exhibit this Sunday at the Heritage House (810 East 13th Street), 4pm. The exhibit documents the blues in Austin from its post-World War II heydey to the present, and will run through the end of March...

There's dueling in-stores on Friday, 6pm, when Silver Scooter and Dallas' Transona5 will perform at 33 Degrees, while Austin Oi! Band and Lower Class Brats will be playing at Sound Exchange...

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

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More Dancing About Architecture
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