Dancing About Architecture

SXSW Says...

I know, I know, you haven't even carved your Hallowe'en pumpkin yet, but it's a fact: South by Southwest '99 is already gearing up for next March. Their first big announcement comes this week with the confirmation of Lucinda Williams as keynote speaker for the music conference. Those hoping to see Williams before next March need only flip on Rosie O'Donnell today (Thursday) where our issue's cover story is scheduled to play some music and perhaps chat a bit. Which reminds me, mark your TV Guide for next Tuesday's installment of Naked Nashville on Bravo, featuring Dale Watson. Actually, it seems like the whole world is revolving around the tube this week, so cup your TV hand to your...

TV Ear

Since the MTV Era began, it's rarely better for a band to be heard and not seen, and Austin's Pushmonkey set up to get the best of both worlds last week by taping an episode of Melrose Place, wherein they perform their current single "Handslide" and the album cut "My Mind." Bob Small at Lone Wolf Records says that in the show, which will likely air the first or second week in December, the band "plays at Kyle's club, which is apparently a rock club again." Since that means absolutely nothing to me, I'll refer you to Margaret Moser's TV Eye this week for further analysis. Pushmonkey, who this week also signed with the William Morris Agency, continue their extensive touring for the nonce, though this Saturday they'll swing back through Texas with a spot in the "KISS-FM Rocks the Garden" at San Antonio's Sunken Gardens alongside Candlebox, Goo Goo Dolls, and others.

Onetime locals Sixpence None the Richer continue their vewwy, vewwy quiet trip to the top of the charts. Their single "Kiss Me" is currently enjoying its third week "Bubbling Under" on Billboard's Top 100 at number 117, and is also on radar at several charts in industry mags Airplay Monitor and R&R. Mostly, though, the band's music will be making its way around the tube this month, heard in the background of Dawson's Creek, Party of Five, and the NBC-TV Movie of the Week, Vanished Without a Trace. Former Dawson's Creek scripter and Hey Zeus bassist Rob Thomasis at the helm of his own show now, as you may know, and he hasn't lost the Austin inside him. As with Thomas' young readers' books, he's begun working the names of local musicians and other buddies into his scripts. I missed the episode featuring a character by name of Jennings Crawford (aka member of Half Watt and the Wannabes, among others), but I did hear that TV's Crawford was a 30-year-old virgin. Gosh, Jennings, who knew? With my luck, when Thomas works my name into one of his scripts -- as he's threatened to do -- I'll appear as a chronic bedwetter or something.

Speaking of TV, Texas, and "chronic," didja catch Houston rapper Bushwick Bill on E!'s Howard Stern show last week? Surely the most entertaining Stern show I've seen since the Channel Nine days, Bill, who was credited onscreen as a "One-eyed Dwarf Rapper," related the always-fresh tale of how he tried to pay his mother's medical bills by holding his girlfriend's child out a window and demanding that she shoot him so that his mom could get his insurance. He even fed Stern great straight lines by repeatedly claiming that anyone under six feet tall is a dwarf because medical textbooks say so. After a few rounds of this claim, Stern finally sputtered, "Who wrote these 'medical textbooks'? The Wizard of Oz?!?"

Aimin' the AMN

Still more telvision-related music news: It's almost time to say bye-bye to the Austin Music Network as we've known it during the last few years, though not quite as over as was once expected; Rick Melchior's new network was originally slated to go on the air November 1, but has now slipped back to November 16. That means the current AMN regular shows have a bit more life in them; Live & Interactive gives up the ghost on November 6, the last Check This Action airs November 8, and the final Reality goes on November 10. Even the Nov. 16 debut date is a bit of a misnomer, though; the new station will be handed the reins on that date, but will be in what's being called "dress rehearsal" mode until December 6. "We're fudging a bit," admits Melchior, saying that the delays are a result of problems on the technical end of things and that if his team is not ready by the 16th, the current staff is prepared to keep things running for a few extra days. "I'm sure they'll have something on," says Tim Hamblin, who currently refers to himself as "The Artist Formerly Known As Music Director." Hamblin, for the record, will continue on with the network in a reduced capacity, taking care of the tape library. "[Hamblin']s official title will be City Archivist," says Melchior, "but he will also be involved creatively." He adds that the new network will be retaining "most of the production employees." What he doesn't know yet is who will be on the air: "We've still not named any hosts," he says. Expect further announcements, and hopefully -- not a blank TV screen -- in the next couple of weeks.

Gimme Sahm!

Doug Sahm's got better things to do these days than just sit around and listen to Rhino's Nuggets box set, but that doesn't mean he's not cranking it up whenever he gets a chance. Like a lot of others, Sahm's trying to adjust to the current yuppified Austin without losing touch with the old hippified one. "We can't help we're in a town other people wanna live in," he sighs. What he can help to do is keep the old Austin alive, and that's what he has planned with his new S.D.Q.'98 album on Watermelon, featuring the Gourds, AugieMeyers, and his sons Shawn and Shandon Sahm. Opening with "Get a Life," subtitled "A Tale of Modern Life in Austin," the new disc finds the elder Sahm singin' it like he's livin' it. Despite the onslaught of "yuppies afraid of their own shadows," Sahm says he's still happy with the audiences he sees in Austin -- both "the young crowd who know who Hank Williams is, and the young crowd who don't give a shit." You pretty much have to be a suburban shut-in to miss seeing Sahm over the next couple of weeks; "We'll be playing everywhere," he chuckles, including a CD release featuring the Gourds, tonight (Thursday), at Stubb's.

A Done Deal

Susan Antone reports that her club's new ownership deal, reported here two weeks ago, has been signed, sealed, and delivered. "We have new partners," she repots, including the previously mentioned John Paul DeJoria of Paul--Mitchell hair products fame, and Katy Dudley, a Houstonian equestrian, who, says Antone, happens to love music. "We'll be the same old Antone's," says the longtime blues club's proprietress. Some upcoming "same olds" at the club include CD release parties for Angela Strehli and Joe Louis Walker this Friday (see "Music Listings") and Irma Thomas on Saturday. Farther on down the road, look for Clifford Antone's birthday bash and a visit from Dr. John.

Mixed Notes

It's the team-up that had to happen! 81/2 Souvenirs is going out on tour with the Brian Setzer Orchestra at the end of this month. Those attending the shows can expect to see Setzer and Chrysta Bell dueting nightly on the song that No Doubt's Gwen Stephani performs with Setzer on the Orchestra's album. The Souvs are also currently in pre-production for their next disc (no, a new one, not another reissue)...

ZZ Top are back in the studio. Look for a new album from the venerable trio likely to appear in the first quarter of 1999...

Jimmie Dale Gilmore is expected to follow Kelly Willis' lead by signing with Rykodisc... I finally heard the track Goldie Hawn recorded with Sir George Martin here in town for Martin's final project before retiring, the Beatles tribute album In My Life. Suffice to say that Hawn's "A Hard Day's Night" immediately brings to mind Mae West's immortal take on "Twist & Shout"...

Mary Cutrufello, whose band includes formerE Streeter Danny Federici, recently got a visit from Federici's former Boss at a gig in Maine. Cutrufello told Internet news service Wall of Sound, "We've been doing 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' in our set," and of course, he walks in right as I'm getting ready to sing the last verse -- the 'Some folks are born into a good life' [part]. And there he is standing in the doorway. It was really cool." Perhaps it's no coincidence that the Houston-based singer is getting involved with Springsteen and his cronies, as she's been repeatedly mentioned in the same breath with Bruce, with Rolling Stone having just run a live review of her that goes so far as to refer to her as the "new Boss"...

Look for more Austin in national magazines. Among others currently out, Gadfly (a magazine with excellent taste in cover stories) features a long discourse on outlaw country with many fine Jim Marshall photos. Look for Willie Nelson on the cover and the ubiquitous shot of Johnny Cash flipping the bird inside. Also, the latest Raygun features an interview with Jonathan Demme and Robyn Hitchcock that was done here in Austin during the last SXSW. There's a few factual errors in the piece (confusing the State and Paramount Theatres, for instance), but since it's Raygun, don't fret -- you won't be able to read it anyhow...

There's a SIMS benefit this Friday at Liberty Lunch with Sixteen Deluxe headlining (they're at Blondie's this Saturday, too), while Marcia Ball, Naughty Ones, and others perform at La Zona Rosa next Wednesday in a benefit for the family of hit-and-run boating victim Neal McAvoy...

Jerm Pollet (ex-Gals Panic/ Missile Command) has taken his solo Tall, Dark and Lonesome act to a regular 8pm Tuesday slot at the Electric Lounge. Pollet says the act has become more of a spoken word performance than a musical one since he "can't seem to shut up between songs"...

Of the Fallen have an in-store at Neptune's this Saturday, 9:30pm. Neptune's, by the way, was inadvertantly left out of our "Best of" issue in the "Best Use of T.H.O.s in a TV commercial"...

Regarding last week's contest to come up with a rhyme with Spoeztl and win tickets to Bocktoberfest: Should I apologize to the guy who called with a lovely poem utilizing both Edsel and pretzel, but left it on my voice mail (instead of talking to our receptionist who had the tickets), or to the fella who actually won the opportunity to drive all the way to Shiner for a show that got flooded out? Oh, well. At least Robert Earl Keen will be in Walking Distance (at Waterloo Records) next Tuesday, 4:30pm...

-- 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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