Dancing About Architecture

Changing the Channel

Wham! Bam! A 6-1 vote and it was over, just like that. After four separate week-long delays preceded by interminable months of bureaucratic meanderings, the fate of the Austin Music Network finally came up for vote at the Austin City Council meeting last Thursday, and in a publicly broadcast farce that made many viewers want to move to Waco, the Council elected to privatize the network by accepting a proposal by Rick Melchior and company to purchase the ailing AMN. The decision was far from surprising; in fact it was one that most observers had expected, but the circumstances leading up to it were less than encouraging as far as showing where the heads of our coucilmembers are at. The Council appeared to have kept up with the matter (Councilmember and former Chronicle columnist Daryl Slusher snidely pointed out that he had read what was being written about the AMN in "that weekly paper that we have") and yet, somehow, after previously telling the Austin Music Commission to come up with an alternate plan to consider, they dismissed all talk outside of the privatization issue almost immediately, saying it would be unfair to throw out any new proposals at this late date. For reactions to the decision and the state of affairs at AMN, turn to "Politics" and "Council Watch." Now, it's time to wait and see whether the new commercial Music Network will succeed, where Time Warner will ghettoize it on the dial (as a commercial station, they are no longer required by their contract to give AMN the preferential "first tier" slot it now occupies), how much of the existing video library can be cleared for commercial use, and what will happen to the archives that can't be utilized by a for-profit company. Good luck to all involved in the "new" Austin Music Network. In all sincerity, you're going to need it.

Whither Spoon?

Elektra Records confirms that they have indeed dropped local act Spoon from their roster after releasing only one commercial effort from the band, the group's major label debut, A Series of Sneaks. Sources at the label admit the decision was based on "basic record company nonsense," stemming from the fact that the A&R rep who signed the band left the company and therefore a void when it came to "top-level executive support" for the band at the label. It's not expected that Spoon will have any trouble getting another deal; the band has remained active in the indie field and released a recent EP on local label Peek-A-Boo. At press time, Spoon's Britt Daniel, now back in Austin after a summer sabbatical in Chicago, was "running errands" and did not return the Chronicle's calls, though he did tell a music staffer last week that the band's recent tour itinerary with bands such as Guided by Voices, Girls Against Boys, Modest Mouse, and Fastball was canceled due to a lack of label "tour support" (that's money to you and me).

The Walser Closing In

Just when you think there are some things that'll never change, you get news like this: Don Walser's Pure Texas Band, after some six years of playing every Monday night at Babe's, has "called it quits." According to the band's fiddle player Howard Kalish, ending the long residency was a pre-emptive decision: "New owners bought the place several months ago and gave the stageside part of the venue a facelift. [Then], last week we heard that they'd fired the manager, Jim Hawk, a great guy who's supported all kinds of music at Babe's. The rumors were that they would be canceling (or replacing) all the bands that have been playing on the restaurant side, so we decided to quit before they fired us." Hawk confirms that he's out at Babe's and is disappointed in the direction he sees the venue headed. "We were really blessed to have the talent we had for what we were paying," he sighs. New general manager Saun Edwards, a familiar face at Babe's who returned last year after a prolonged absence, says the new owners feel that audiences for the bands in residence at the Sixth Street establishment have been "tapering off," and want to try something different. Edwards adds that he hopes to continue working with Alvin Crow and still has Dale Watson on tap at least through November, but that there will indeed be more changes at Babe's including pretty much the end of hard rock on the stage (or "bar") side. And who is scheduled to replace the mighty Don Walser? No one (though you could see him out at the Backyard's chili cook-off this Sunday). Current plans call for the club's Monday nights to hold their own with TV football and happy hour drink prices.

Two-For-One Lunch

It should be twice as easy to get hold of the Liberty Lunch folks, now that the offices of Lunch Money Productions have been moved into the building. It probably means that more will be done to improve the appearance of the club as well. Unfortunately, it appears that the crack dealers who have been developing the block for their own purposes are annoyed by the Lunch folks' increased presence. J-Net Ward, for instance, has already had her car broken into and her cell phone stolen because the drug dealers are "displeased with us calling the police on them five times a day," says another Lunch employee. The Lunch crew adds that they have no intention of stopping, whether or not the dealers find another block from which to dispense their wares.

Whadda I Look Like, Chopped Liver?

After spending the spring and summer in various forms, the Bad Livers, now down to just Danny Barnes and Mark Rubin, are gearing up to support their new Industry and Thrift album, which enters stores on Tuesday. Rubin says he'll be flying out next week to join ex-Austinite Barnes up in the Northwest for some dates, with a full-on October tour to follow. A local appearance may happen in November, but that's "between my booking agent and the local clubs." As far as the album, produced by the ubiquitous Lloyd Maines (who else?) and featuring guest appearances by Maines, Rubin's Klezmer band, and the string section from Tosca, Rubin proclaims, "It's the best thing we've ever done. I know you hear that all the time, but I mean it. Honestly!" Hey, big guy, we trust you. Just get Danny to drag his ass down here more often for old time's sake.

Jesus Hates the Huns

My attention has just been drawn to a missive that came here via something of a long and winding road. According to an e-mail that was forwarded to me, "Phil Tolstead is looking for a forum, a way to evangelize to people in Austin on the eve of the 20-year anniversary of the Huns bust at Raul's." For those unfamiliar with Austin punk history, Tolstead is the former singer for the Huns, who long ago turned preacher and is known for showing video footage of his punk days in the context of bad life examples. The e-mail goes on to say that he had tried to contact the Chronicle but failed. At this point, the anniversary is awfully close; our calculations put the original pigs vs. punks event on the third Friday of September 1978. But Phil, if you're still planning a revival for next weekend, call and we'll give you a plug next week. (Suggestion: The Texas Showdown ó former home of Raul's ó would be a very bad place to try to hold it). Those of you looking for amazing grace without the threat of culture clash should probably try Claudia Williams and the Voices of Christ's 17th Anniversary/ CD release show this Sunday, 7pm at the First Baptist Church, 901 Trinity.

Mixed Notes

This week's Devo/Beck update just looks grimmer than the last. The folks at
http://www.siliconplanet.com have been playing "How Do You Keep an Idiot in Suspense?" all week by posting every day that ticket information will be available "tomorrow." As I reported last week, Devo's management has stated they understand the charity gig is an invitation-only affair. Oh, and the Knack show scheduled for next Tuesday at Liberty Lunch has been kiboshed as well. The Lunch staff says that they were told that a sore throat (presumably Doug Fieger's) is being given as the official reason for the cancellation...

Also canceled (these notes are starting off pretty negative, don't you think?) is the B.B. King Blues Festival, which was scheduled for September 27 at Southpark Meadows. And though we hear that Jonny Lang quit the Fest before the bill folded, we don't know if the two events are connected; to the best of our knowledge, he's still playing his scheduled Austin City Limits appearance later this month...

Which reminds me. The nice folks at ACL are giving away tickets to the Lionel Hampton/Ruth Brown taping on Monday, September 15 at 5pm. The show is the following evening, Tuesday, at 7pm...

Word from Sony is that the Stevie Ray Vaughan box set that was anticipated for November has been postponed until next year. Sony Legacy and Jimmie Vaughan have decided that additional time is needed to select the repertoire ó besides which, Jimmie is busy promoting his new album...

It looks like the Damnations, for now, are forgoing canceling their name and going ahead with the plan of putting a little "TX" after it. Look for the album, as expected, in January or so...

For those who thought Antone's the record label was dead, well, Pete Mayes and Syl Johnson are not, and they're leading the pack of artists recording for the new, improved Antone's. Besides an official release party at Antone's (the night club), this Friday night, Mayes and Johnson will play an in-store at Borders (Friday 5-6pm) and sign autographs on Saturday at 12:30pm at Antone's (the record store)...

Okay, enough negative news: On Labor Day morning, a 700-lb boulder was added next to the Town Lake bench honoring the late Walter Hyatt. The stone is inscribed with a verse from Hyatt's "Deeper Than Love," his name and his dates, and in small letters, to the side, "il brille," which I'm told translates as "He Is Shining On"...

Pocket money running low? The Hole in the Wall's Holefest starts this Sunday with a week of free shows, featuring everyone and their mother, including: Evan Johns, Larry Seaman, Golden Arm Trio, Prescott Curlywolf, Meat Purveyors, Silver Scooter, and of course Superego. Topping it off next Sunday is the Neil Young Hoot Night...

One thing I didn't mention in my review of the Pocket FishRmen's new Simian Dreams (see "Texas Platters") is that Jason Roberts and Chris Booher of Asleep at the Wheel both make guest appearances on the disc, adding honky-tonk fiddle and piano, respectively, to the FishRmen's lovely punk epic of monkey-fucking in the jungles of time and space...

ó Contributors: Michael Bertin, 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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