Dancing About Architecture

The Antone's Dance

Changes are in store for Antone's nightclub in the near future. No, the club isn't moving, changing its booking policies, or selling out to a big chain. A long time in the works now, there's a deal on the table for the Antone family to buy out some of their partners. Clifford Antone, never the one to count his bass strings until they're tuned, admits that buyout "may be real soon," but adds with caution that "it doesn't do any good to tell you more because [the situation] has changed four or five times already." The basics of the situation, which tend to remain constant, are that the Antones, with the help of investor John Paul DeJoria of the Paul Mitchell hair products empire, are working to purchase co-owner Dennis Allison's share of the club. Clifford claims no beef with Allison, but expresses the feeling that there are too many people currently involved in the club, with too many visions of what Antone's should be. He cites no major overhauls planned for the club once an agreement has been reached, only "improvements that any [clubowner] would want to do, including making sure that the bar stock is kept updated -- those little things add up." Allison confirms that he's ready to sell his part of the club when negotiations are successfully completed and that there are no hard feelings on either side. "Nothing has been consummated, though," he reiterates, many months into the on-again, off-again proceedings. "Hey, maybe you can tell me some things ... "

Look for the Austin Label

Are they or aren't they? That's the question that keeps coming up regarding the continued viability of the incredible shrinking Arista/Austin label, home to locals such as Robert Earl Keen, Sister 7, Abra Moore, and others. As you may recall from previous editions of this column, the label has already high-tailed it back to Nashville and downsized, and rumors are saying now that it's completely kaput and its artists are being distributed to other areas of the Arista empire. Scott Robinson, senior director of Artist Development at A/A, disagrees. "Nothing's done, everyone's here," he says, attributing the rumors to overheard, third-hand information. There are and have been three ways of referring to Arista product stemming from their Nashville offices, he says -- Arista, Arista/Austin and Arista/Nashville -- and that currently, the organization is restructuring. As a result, A/A and A/N will be working together, while acts with more Top 40 potential on A/A will be handled by the New York offices. That means Sister 7 and Moore will be worked by Arista, while the old A/A staff and their Nashville cohorts will concentrate on more "left of center" acts such as Radney Foster, Jeff Black, and BR-549. For his part, Keen says he's glad his Walking Distance album, which appears October 27, will be on Arista. "It's great," he opines. "Now I can go to those Whitney Houston cocktail parties!" Like the others, Keen says he received a call of explanation around three weeks ago, and since his schedule remains unaffected by the changes, the situation to him is pretty much the same as always. "We still have a home," he explains. "We just don't have an address yet."

Meanwhile, out on the West Coast, calls to former Arista/Austin bigwig Cameron Randle's office are officially being answered as "Hollywood Latin," indicating that the Texas/ Tejano-friendly label is up and cooking. Randle doesn't like to get too specific, but says that when he left A/A in September of last year, "We knew there would be changes there," so he headed for California in the specific hopes of opening a Latin artists' management company. The Disney people (owners of Hollywood and, of course, Fastball) were impressed, and so soon, with ex-Aristites Joe Trevino and Cary Prince in tow, Randle was fast in the process of overseeing the establishment of Hollywood's new Latin division. The label's first signing is Chris Perez (widower to the late Selena), who had previously been the first client at Randle's new management company. Randle adds that Nydia Rojas has come over to Hollywood Latin and that the label will be working with personnel from Miami's Walt Disney Records, but beyond that declines jumping the gun further on plans for the new imprint. Disney is "very, very excited and want to throw the big Disney hoopla" when they officially announce the label's existence in upcoming weeks, he says. "We're going to continue mining the talent pool of Texas," he adds.

Johnny Hates Jazz

If you listen to soft jazz (while awake, at least), you may have noticed that KAJZ has changed formats. The LBJ-S Broadcasting System has decided that the format wasn't making enough green, so they decided to take the station head to head with KASE/KVET by switching to a country format. The switch caused more uproar than I for one would have expected; I can only recall hearing the station at a residence or business, and it's doubtful that the various flyers and e-mails protesting the change will account for much. That's how the radio dial turns, folks, and anyhow, didn't the earlier attempt at a New Age station at 107.1 (before KGSR-FM) already prove there's not enough of a market here in Austin for a "jazz for people who hate jazz" station? There was a rumor that KJFK was going to take up the jazz slack by switching to the "cool" format last week, but listeners who tuned in at the appropriate time heard only a few moments of soft jazz followed by a DJ explaining that no, the rumors were untrue -- and were, in fact, spread by the station's management as a publicity stunt. By the way, the organizers of the Warehouse District Jazz Festival, which was sponsored by KAJZ, have announced that the fest will go on as planned, October 11 along downtown Fourth Street from 1-10pm.

The Pulled Monte

Don't look for Monte Warden's major label debut to make its scheduled appearance this fall; instead you can expect to see the disc in stores sometime after the first of the year, thanks to the late Tammy Wynette. Warden says the label decided their energy needed to be concentrated on the recent Wynette tribute album, and that they currently didn't have the time available to properly break a new act. Warden doesn't seem to be particularly upset by the delay, saying that he certainly doesn't want the label to put his record out when they don't want to. "I've done that before!" he chuckles wryly. Currently, Warden's plans call for writing new material toward a second album for the label, as he figures that once the album does come out, he'll be too busy touring in support of it to do much more before his next studio visit for the follow-up, slated for next November.

On a similar note, Chris Wall's new disc featuring Reckless Kelly as his backup band has been delayed two weeks from its planned October 6 release date, for what one assumes Wall must consider a good reason: advance requests for the album have been so great that not enough copies would be available by that date. Instead, the official day of release will be October 20, though the album will be available early to those who attend Wall and the Reckless ones' sets on October 16 at Waterloo Records and La Zona Rosa. Also getting into the act is Doug Sahm, whose forthcoming Watermelon Records debut comes out the same date and features backing by the Gourds, who play the release party at Stubb's October 22.

South by Octoberfest

It sure is starting to feel a lot like Christmas. Well, actually it isn't, but we're closing in on the time when stores begin their rush towards the holidays and the time when (gasp!) South by Southwest rears its ugly head again. Yep, it's time to submit your applications for the March music festival, with the early deadline a mere week away. Applications, which can be found in this issue and at http://www.sxsw.com, that are postmarked by October 9 will get you processed for only $10, though you have until November 16 to get your act together if you don't mind paying $20. "We're really trying to beef up our music video selection," says SXSW's David Thomson, who points out to bands that even if they don't make it into the music conference (or won't be able to play the festival at all), they can submit a music video to the SXSW film festival. Of course, that's another $20, if you make the film fest's early deadline, which is the same as the music fest's final one -- November 16.

Farther from home but closer to now is the North Texas Music Festival, which takes place in Dallas October 14-18. Among the 75 bands in the fest, you'll see Austin's 54 Seconds, 7 Stones, Cadillac Voodoo Choir, Free Range Bastards, SINIS, Wan Santo Condo, Paula Nelson, Beaver Nelson, Plum, Ursa Major, Ginger MacKenzie, MC Overlord, Godzilla Motor Company,and Dexter Freebish. While there will be an auction, gospel brunch, and music awards ceremony, the organizers boast that, "There's no conference here!" And if it's (almost) instant gratification you're looking for, Celisfest, benefitting the Capitol Area Food Bank and the Central East Austin Community Organization, is at Waterloo Park this Saturday from 2-11:30pm, with Breedlove, MC Overlord, George Devore, Trish Murphy, and Reckless Kelly on Stage One and Pat Green, Soul Hat, Storyville, Ian Moore, and Jerry Jeff Walker on the second.

Movin' On

Rumors that Junior Brown has finally sold his house here and moved to Tulsa full time have proved to be true -- and false. Yes, Brown has cashed in on a house that he owned in Austin, but he still has another one here. As long as we're on the subject of moving, however, I should mention that Wimberley resident Mason Ruffner has gone and made the move up to Memphis as of a few weeks ago, and a couple months before that, Lloyd Maines (who had seemed to be the only Lubbockite legend to remain in that town) relocated to Austin. Not an unexpected move, since Maines seems to have produced every album to come from Austin in the past year.

Mixed Notes

Dexter Freebish report that MCA liked the demos they commissioned from the band enough that they have decided to send the Freebishes back into the studio to record some more in the next few months. The band also has received recent interest from Arista Records (them again!) and Sony...

Honky's last CD release party turned out to not be one, but they promise their discs will be ready when they play Lovejoy's next Wednesday. After that, they'll head off on a tour that includes a gig at the wrap party for Billy Bob Thornton's new movie...

You know what I think of Dr. Laura Schlesinger, and apparently, Waylon Jennings is in complete agreement with me. Jennings was reportedly waiting in the wings for his slot on the Tom Snyder show, and when the wicked witch of talk radio's segment with Snyder ran long, Jennings apparently split, leaving the host with 15 lonely minutes of dead air to fill...

With time running out for Trance Syndicate before it officially closes (leaving sister label Emperor Jones alive but on a modest scale), here's the latest release schedule for the twin local labels: Paul Newman and Peter Jeffries' albums have just hit the racks, Bedhead's swan song follows on October 10, the next one from Starfish comes on November 16, and surprise, surprise, a collection of unreleased Roky Erickson material titled Never Say Goodbye is set for a January 1999 release...

We've heard from a New York swinger that 8 1/2 Souvenirs, were joined onstage at the Radio Bar there by Brian Setzer, who performed two songs with the Souvs including a rousing version of "Mystery Train"...

The Texas Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) kicks off the 1998 "Professional Education Series" this weekend with its forum on film and music at the Driskill Hotel, Citadel Room (604 Brazos), on Saturday, 3:15-4:45pm. Panelists include Charlie Sexton and Shudder to Think's Craig Wedren. Tickets are $15 and for more info call 512/328-8159...

Folks always forget our "Music Listings" deadline, hence a last-minute call from Epistrophy Arts, who are having one of their stellar jazz shows tonight, Thursday, at Ceremony Hall, featuring BMA: Wilbur Morris, Thomas Borgman, and Reggie Nicholson. That's at 7:30pm, and you can get tickets and more info at Thirty-Three Degrees...

Don't forget the "Dumbest Book Signing Ever" at Antone's next Tuesday before the Scabs play. Authors Margaret Moser and Bill Crawford and members of Team Dumb will sign copies of Rock Stars Do the Dumbest Things and give away dumb prizes...

Which reminds me: Hope you didn't quit your day job, because the Austin Record Convention is this Saturday and Sunday at Palmer Auditorium...

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

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