Dancing About Architecture

The Star System

Things got ugly last week on Austin's ever-changing radio dial when one of this country's biggest, richest, and most powerful radio networks, Capstar, based here in the capital, took a bite out of that big local dog known as "The LBJ group" (101X, KGSR, KLBJ, and their new country station, "Lone Star 93"). After moonlighting for the Capstar empire's radio stations for a long while, two of 101X's most popular on-air personalities, Rachel Marisay and "L.A." Lloyd Hocut, have jumped ship in favor of Capstar's local entry into the Modern Rock format, "The Planet" (105.9). Following what one assumes was the standard "all or nothing, now or never" ultimatum, Marisay made the move last week with Hocut taking a week to follow. Hocut, at least, will now be heard in Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Waco as well as here in Austin, and says he enjoyed the "best of both worlds" situation since April, when he began working for both stations, and that finally having to choose between the two was difficult. "I was actually transferred here to put 101X on the air. It's obviously tough to leave your baby, but it's the potential to grow with Capstar that made the difference." Capstar officials say that the new station is currently focusing on programming, but due to the enormous size of the company were unable to produce any specific person who knew the timeline or how many people were being hired by the new "Planet." 101X, who have now found themselves with no music director on the heels of Hocut's departure, declined comment. Does it really matter whose voice accompanies the music as today's radio stations sink deeper into a sea of sameness? Insiders says yes, pointing out that once all stations sound the same, the only thing that will distinguish one station from the next is a familiar voice. Stayed tuned, there's always another ratings book just around the corner.


Sick of Being Sick

Tales of Nanci Griffith facing cancer have left her management very cautious. Regarding a story published in the Statesman last week claiming that Griffith "has reportedly been fighting [thyroid] cancer" in recent months, Gold Mountain Management states that, "Nanci at one point had breast cancer and beat it. Her health at this time is fine and she has no further statement to make on the matter." The amount of time it took for them to come up with the above statement and the tone of voice in which it was gingerly delivered doesn't tend to back up the claim that Griffith is in perfect health, but the fact that she is planning a U.K. tour for the end of next month indicates that perhaps the reports of her grave condition were premature or exaggerated. Said shows -- two each in Dublin, London, and Glasgow -- will be based on the current second volume in her Other Voices series of albums, as is a coffee table book of the same name, which hit stores this week.

Chronicle contributor Kent Benjamin didn't get the chance to casually walk around the Austin Record Convention last weekend and watch people reading his Austin Music Scene cover story in the new Goldmine. That was because, on the previous Tuesday, he had a massive heart attack at about 5pm. "I was feeling what I recognized as probable heart attack symptoms," he recounts, "called my HMO, and they referred me to Seton ER, which I drove to. Less than three minutes after arrival, I went intocomplete cardiac arrest (literally dropped out cold). They did unsuccessful CPR, and had to shock me three times to get me going again." After having had surgery to clear a clogged ventricle, Benjamin will be resting in bed for awhile, but as of his most recent e-mail, he's in good spirits, saying, "Hey, Brian Wilson's just coming on TV on Farm Aid in the other room, so ya' know I'm in good shape if I'm not missin' that!"

Finally, as the Grim Reaper continues to show that his musical taste has switched from blues to country of late, Gene Autry has headed off to that last roundup. The Texas-born singing cowboy was 91.


Pullin' the Chords of Fame

It's that time of year again: The week the Chronicle music staff sits together and makes our official group vote on who deserves to make it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year. Official procedure mandates we choose eight out of 15 names and rank them in order of preference. When all the votes are in, the HoF in Cleveland announces the winners. Here then, foryour, er, edification, are our decisions for 1998:

Black Sabbath: A definite, unanimous yes, and in fact our Number One pick. After all, no matter how much you hate them, if they'd never existed, neither would most of the bands you like. Solomon Burke: A non-committal no.Burke's been on the nominees list for as long as any of us can remember, and the R&B pioneer will stay on until he gets in. The Flamingos: Doo-wop legends who were a great influence on music as we know it. Another perpetual nominee, but unfortunately, the Moonglows are on the list as well, and the two cancel each other out. No. Billy Joel: One bar of "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" is enough to remind us that he's not, and never was. Big no. Darlene Love: This Phil Spector ingenue deserves to make it in even without Margaret Moser's reminders that there aren't enough women in the Hall. Yes, but just barely at Number Eight. Curtis Mayfield: The younger members of our group may get him confused with Kurtis Blow (who they in turn confuse with Blowfly), but he still rates a yes, coming in at Number Seven. Paul McCartney: I'm pretty sure he's already in as part of some group or something, but we voted him our Number Three yes, because we each have a sentimental fave Paul solo song and he's gonna get in anyhow. The Moonglows: See the Flamingos. No. Gene Pitney: It isn't very pretty what critics without pity can do. No. Del Shannon: Given the choice between joining the Travelling Wilburys and suicide, Del chose to eat the bullet. An admirable act, but sadly, he's still a no. Dusty Springfield: Another female, and one we like better than Darlene Love. A lot more influential than you think, Springfield gets a Number Six, yes. Bruce Springsteen: See McCartney, more or less, and you get the idea, Number Two, yes. Staple Singers: Big yes, coming in at Number Four, so as to keep the Chronicle building from getting hit by a bolt of heavenly lightning. Steely Dan: People play this stuff way too often on jukeboxes where we otherwise enjoy hanging out. Hey, Nineteen, that's a big no!Richie Valens: What do you want? He's got the minority vote, the sentimentality vote, and the "didn't last long enough to suck" vote. A yes at Number Five.

You don't have to agree with our votes, and you probably don't. We'll see how many other voters did when the HoF announces this year's winners in the upcoming months. By then, however, we'll already thinking about next year, or better yet, two decades in the future when the current crop of acts have been around long enough to make it into the Hall (25 years). Our staff can just picture Zeke Barbaro, Rosalyn Faires, and Eli Black arguing over whether Beck deserves to rank higher than the Beasties, Everclear is better than Bush, and whether, once and for all, somebody can break that damn deadlock between the Flamingos and the Moonglows...


Mixed Notes

Antone's Records artists Toni Price and Guy Forsyth are both in the studio working on albums for release next year, probably in the spring. Up first from the label will be a new one from Lazy Lester...

The Buena Vista Music Group made their official announcement of the existence of the new Hollywood Latin imprint last Friday, one brief day after the Chronicle broke the story. There's little to add to what I said last week, other than to insert Los Lobos to the company's official starting roster along with Nydia Rojas and Chris Perez. All current projects are slated for an early 1999 release...

In other label news, the Welk Group has purchased Sugar Hill Records. Yes, that's right, Sugar Hill, current or former home to Robert Earl Keen, James McMurtry, Bad Livers,Terry Allen, Guy Clark,and the late Townes Van Zandt is now owned by the Lawrence Welk people. According to a press release from the two labels, Sugar Hill will continue as a separate independent label and maintain its headquarters in Durham, North Carolina. Still, if I were Mark Rubin, I'd play up that Klezmer angle for all it's worth and start practicing the phrase, "An a one, An a two!" There's nothing wrong with hosting your own TV show, after all...

Bill Oliver is leaving Austin. Once described by Time magazine as a "poet of preservation," Oliver is moving to California. The author of "Barton Springs Eternal," "Habitat," and numerous other "green" songs, Oliver has performed about a gazillion benefit concerts for environmental groups around the country. Oliver leaves officially for Sausalito on October 18. He'll be coming back here frequently for different performing gigs...

Austin will probably see Julie Burrell again as well, but the songstress is also relocating to California, with a spot picked between Los Angeles and San Diego. "I love my town," says Burrell, "but I'm trying to get to that next level."...

Finally, Lewis Karp, founder of Waterloo Records and brainchild behind numerous other businesses including a chain of in-hospital video stores, will also be leaving town. Karp will be relocating to Boulder...

In town, don't forget the Warehouse District Jazz Festival this Sunday at Fourth and Colorado, 1-10pm. Admission is free for glimpsing Kyle Turner, Jazzaholics, Blue Millennium, Joe McBride and many more...

Oh, there's a Bob Marley Festival that day, too, in Waterloo Park. Early birds (before 3pm) can get in with a $5 cash or clothing donation...

Steamroller's third indie CD Razzle Dazzle is now available at places like Waterloo and Tower Records. The band celebrates with a show this Saturday at Steamboat...

In-stores this week include the Lucky Strikes at Waterloo Records Friday, 5pm; Bongo Hate at Tower also Friday, 3pm; and over at Fringeware, 8pm, you've got the Hot Tool Fashion Crew, industrial lingerie, and a Theremin to deal with...

It was only a few weeks ago that I witnessed the sad breakdown of a Cher UK member confronted with the fact that Tommy Stinson of the Replacements had joined Guns N' Roses (this is true, in case you hadn't heardeither), and now I see that Marvel Comics' Stan Lee has a letter from one Bob Stinson of Austin, Texas in this month's Stan's Soapbox column in various comics. If it weren't for the fact that there are a number of real Stinsons in the Austin directory, I'd think a distraught 'Mats fan decided he had been reborn as Tommy's late bandmate/brother...

There's several SIMS benefit shows this month, including the John Lennon/Beatles tribute Friday at the Steamboat and Sunday's Tom Waits hoot night at the Electric Lounge (see "Calendar"). Pick your favorite (or both) and head on down to the corner of Heartattack and Penny Lane...

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



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The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."

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