Dancing About Architecture

My Fair Ladies

It's ladies' day in Austin this Friday, with thousands heading out to the Lilith Fair outdoors at South Park Meadows to see the stars including Sara McLachlan, Natalie Merchant, Bonnie Raitt, Erykah Badu, and Liz Phair. Attendees will get the chance to observe a number of renovations at the Meadows, as revealed during last weekend's Phish and B-52s/Pretenders shows, among them new, apparently permanent seating stageside, and nice soft turf, which will no doubt be completely destroyed by the end of the WARPED tour's visit next week. Tonight, Thursday, there will be a preview of events as Lucinda Williams, who takes Lilith's second stage around 6pm, plays the year's worst-kept "secret" show at Antone's. That show, as well as her afternoon in-store today at Waterloo Records, will also rate as a preview of Williams' Austin City Limits taping, which should happening as we go to press Wednesday.

One element that has been a key to the success of Lilith Fair has been the camaraderie between the acts on the tour. Besides the full-cast jam that ends each night, second- and third-stagers regularly get their time in the spotlight as guests of the first-string acts. Trish Murphy recently finished the last of her five gigs on the tour and manager Charlie Neath reports from the road that Murphy, aside from her own set on the third stage (a setup next to the village of booths for non-profit organizations that he describes as "a glorified food court") also got to share the stage during the evenings' climaxes with the Indigo Girls, Merchant, McLachlan, and on the one night that their stints dovetailed, fellow Austinite Kacy Crowley. "I got to sing whole verses," says Crowley proudly of her appearances with the Indigos; she joined them for one of their songs and the Band's classic "The Weight," which everybody seems to be doing these days.

Crowley's other highlights during the tour included "stepping on Natalie Merchant's foot" during one of the big finales and apologizing profusely, and signing an autograph to a teary-eyed fan, who then declared that "`Support System' is my favorite song!" After trying to decide who else on the tour she might look like, Crowley says she asked Liz Phair if she did a song by that name. Receiving an answer in the affirmative, Crowley sighed, "Well, I just signed an autograph for you." Phair only regretted that Crowley hadn't realized the fan's error ahead of time, so she could've signed the correct name.

Crowley says she doesn't have any gigs this week, and Murphy hasn't yet returned to town, so some may ask why the locals won't be playing Austin's Lilith appearance. Neath answers that simply enough: "We requested out-of-town shows, because we wanted to reach new markets." There will, however, be one Austin act taking the Lilith Village Stage; cling will play a short set there at around 3:30pm, followed by Danielle Howle and Talking to Animals. And keep your eyes peeled this weekend; besides Williams' Antone's show (Shhh! Don't tell anyone), other Lilithers will doubtlessly be gracing local clubs while they're in town.

The Story Behind the Story(ville)

"We've had all kinds of offers this week!" says excited Storyville manager Mark Proct. Those offers haven't been from record companies (the band is, of course, signed to Atlantic and will soon be off promoting their Dog Years album on a tour with B.B. King) or TV shows (though fellow Proct client Jimmie Vaughan is heading off next week to tape an episode of Comedy Central's pseudo-European schtick-com Viva Variety for airing at a later date). No, the offers pouring in to Proct have been from Storyville fans eager to take up arms against reviewer Michael Bertin, who was, shall we say, less than generous to the band in his review of their album in last week's Chronicle. If anything, the Chron office has received even more comment on the matter than Mr. Proct has (see Postmarks), but we have to take particular exception to a letter from A.J. Vallejo, which in part reads "if you ever write a review like that about my band ...

I will come find you myself where you can't hide behind your pen and break those worthless fingers of yours and kick your fucking teeth in while I'm at it." A.J., it was just a review. An opinion. A couple of hundred negative words following a sea of positive ones (I know that's what pissed most of you off). And threats of physical violence seem especially ill-thought-out coming from someone who (as reported in this column) recently endured the pain of being run over by a car.

On behalf of the whole Chron staff, I've been asked to implore people to take the time to think before sending us letters of rage like this one. I would think we spent more time just coming up with the title of the Storyville feature that the review accompanied than you did with your letter; "A Tale of Two Villes," "Every Picture Tells a Story(ville)," "The Neverending Storyville," and even the truly horrid "Holt! Or My Mom Will Grissom!" were all considered. Meanwhile, I can see them at XL ent. wisely saying of their piece on the band, "Ah, screw it. Call it `The Story' and let's get outta here." As for myself personally, I can only say I'd be worried to even listen to your next album for fear that it might not appeal to me. I mean, I like my teeth.

Buttholes Open Up

What's the best place for a butthole to expel what's inside it? A nice private room. Well, on the Internet, nothing's ever really private, but the Net is perhaps the only place to discover the truth about the Butthole Surfers' new album, The Last Astronaut. Drummer King Coffey provided some answers to members of the band's approved but unofficial fan club (http://web.wt.net/~szuckero), though only those with a special password can get the "hole truth." What has leaked out is a general update from Coffey, who says, "We haven't been happy with how Capitol has worked the last two records and aren't confident they would do anything different for the new one (especially considering it's one of the more experimental records we've done). Therefore, we've refused to give final permission to Capitol to release this (fortunately we have such a thing in our contract). While there is still no release date, we're still hoping on a release sometime this year - it just may not be on Capitol." Concurrently, on the Velvet Rope, a gossip-oriented, members-only message board for music industry elite, Coffey was found responding to a hypothesis that perhaps drug abuse by frontman Gibby Haynes had been stalling the project. King denied the accusation vehemently, adding, "For what it's worth, [Gibby]'s doing great. As we've been doing for a couple years now, we're both spending a lot of time in front of our computers and samplers, working on new songs and learning new gear. We played a show together (Jackofficers vs. Drain) over the weekend at the Texas Electronica Festival." That show won't be the last appearance by either act before Astronaut's release, however, as a repeat bout between the two side projects is set for the bill at Stubb's this Saturday with the Flaming Lips' Experiment. Former Officer Jeff Pinkus, by the way, says that the reissue on his label of the band's sole album is moving well.

Mixed Notes

"Johnny Thundernips has not died of alcohol poisoning, and Sinis has not signed to Sony," says band manager Krank von Shaftt, following a "crazy week of congratulations and condolences." He's not sure where the Sony thing even came from, though he says metalmeisters Sinis have received interest from MCA and Reprise, but the death rumors (always good for a career boost) stem from Thundernips passing out last Wednesday following a show at the Flamingo Cantina with his side project Ronnie and Donnie featuring former Skatenigs member Ronnie Blacklabel (not his real name). A trip to the emergency room later, T-nips was diagnosed as having had an "allergic reaction to alcohol," and has since recovered. He'll be back onstage for a show on August 7 that also features a Fabulous Bowler Boys reunion...

Speaking of MCA, it's old news, but I don't think I ever mentioned that Todd Snider is no longer with that label...

Ch-ch-changes are goin' on. Among them, Ted Roddy's annual Elvis birthday bash will be held at La Zona Rosa this year instead of the traditional location, the Continental Club. Reportedly, La Zona offered the high bid on the show, but that doesn't soothe the ruffled feathers of some folks out there who consider the affair and the Continental to be inseparable...

Another move, though this one's significantly farther: "Don't get us wrong - we love Luckenbach. We really do." So begins a notice on Jerry Jeff Walker's Web page indicating that Walker will be nowhere near the town this Labor Day. It turns out JJW and company also loved the idea of being "somewhere that wasn't Texas in August," so Jerry Jeff's Rocky Mountain Labor Fest debuts this year in Bellvue, Colorado. Check out http://www.jerryjeff.com for full details. It's not too surprising that Walker and company decided to head for cooler climes, since recent years have seen talk about the good folks of Luckenbach getting fed up with the crowds and chaos that comes along with big musical events. The little Texas town won't be abandoned on Labor Day, however, since Direct Events has Robert Earl Keen's big Texas Uprising booked into Luckenbach that weekend, with REK joined by guests Jason & the Scorchers, Toni Price, Charlie Robison, Monte Montgomery, and a few thousand of their closest friends. Be nice to the locals, now, Robert, or you'll be ridden outta town on a rail...

Think you're having a busy week? Spoon is in the middle of 15 gigs over 16 days. No package tour, this, the "Car Radio" cats are playing, variously, with Jack Logan, Fastball, Guided by Voices, Girls Against Boys, Modest Mouse, Samiam, Sixteen Deluxe, and whoever happens to be sharing the HORDE stage on their dates with that music festival...

Sharon Jones at Feedback Media is compiling a list of bands interested in providing music to several independent film groups here in Austin, and asks that bands "send bio & stuff and let me know whether you have any specific skills, experience, or interest in film scoring and composing." Send demos and info to P.O.Box 80108, Austin, TX 78708-0108...

- Contributors: Michael Bertin, 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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