Dancing About Architecture

AMN II: The "X" Generation

Last Friday evening was the big, live on-air giving of the finger, er, I mean passing of the reins, from the old Austin Music Network to the new, wherein I joined with a number of local musicians (including Britt Daniel and Andy Maguire unintentionally together in the same building!) in playing requested videos, chatting about various topics, and repeatedly taunting Alejandro Escovedo for not coming down and joining us. (The aging Mr. E used as his lame excuse the notion that his wife was having a baby, which in fact she did not do until Sunday.) That night was the final time the "old" AMN had a live feed going out, but the station didn't actually draw its last breath until Wednesday morning at 9am, as a cut from Cactus Cafe fave Bill Morissey faded to black and the new, private enterprise AMN started their "dress rehearsal" (as they're calling their first couple of weeks on the air) with ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man" video.

The first hour of the new AMN basically amounted to an EPK (electronic press kit) for the new channel, as various veejays touted their new shows and showed samples of the types of programming they'd be showing during their time slots, all the while dutifully hammering together flats and setting up lights as they "built" the new station themselves; if this weren't Texas, they'd have already racked up enough union fines to pay for a year of the old AMN! There was no immediate way to tell whether this mob of twentysomethings will become irritating or endearing, as they were spouting the sort of stiff, pseudo-cool dialogue required for this sort of thing; one bubbly young gal whose name and that of her show I didn't catch, admonished several of her fellow "construction workers," grinning that, "Those guys at the Chronicle are right -- these guys are never gonna get this thing up and running!" and giggled that, "I've got more musicians on the floor of my living room than will ever appear on Channel 15!" As far as more video samples, the Rock.alt crew offered Fastball's "Fire Escape" and David Garza's Discoball World, dance show Fly presented clips from Erykah Badu and En Vogue, Sin Fronteras showcased Selena, Gloria Estefan, and Nydia Rojas, and Breakin' In, a show for new acts and live in-studio performances, ran low-budget clips from thrash acts Pitbull Daycare and 151. Hey, maybe your band does have a chance of making it on the new AMN! The hour tied things up with a coda from Rob Mahoney, host of the daily, two-hour What's the Cover? (the new channel's answer to Check This Action) and a quick shot of beleaguered owner Rick Melchior staring forlornly at the Internet while begging Directory Assistance for Eric Johnson's number. All this painted a far rosier picture for the new AMN than the above summary might indicate, and certainly the package looks geared to include more local content than many people expected, but we'll still have to wait until December before we find that out for sure.

Y'know, I just realized that just about all my entertainment time this week related to the movies or TV. Besides all this AMN stuff, there was One Horn Productions' party for Russ Meyer (who got stuck at LAX and missed it), Casino el Camino's bash for Mr. Lifto's appearance on Guinness Book of World Records, andtrading e-mail with certain disgruntled former associates of Rob Thomas, who has gone from soft-spoken San Marcos bass player to producer of TV's Cupid, and according to my sources, has become "power-hungry" to the point of their leaving the show. Conversely, friends of Thomas say that at the Diamond Smugglers show at Liberty Lunch on Hallowe'en, he was "white as a sheet" over the departure of his co-workers and his resultant overwhelming workload -- and appeared anything but power-hungry.

Lunch vs. Money?

It's that time of year again -- time for the annual "Liberty Lunch is doomed" story. Apparently, Mayor Kirk Watson is looking to lease the block Liberty Lunch is on (the three blocks between Town Lake and Third Street, actually) to a computer software company, thus dislocating the music venue. The club's J'net Ward says she's not too worried, but is aware that the city has the right to make such a decision at any given point, and has been up-front with the Lunch about this. To get the whole story, flip to this week's "Council Watch." At the Lunch itself, Ward has her hands full with what appears to be a growing battle between the Lunch and Direct Events, particularly in the case of an upcoming Los Super Seven show, which she says she had booked, but was relocated to La Zona Rosa after Direct Events "was so threatened that they called up [Los Super Seven's] agent and told them all sorts of lies." Both Direct Events and the band's management deny any such hanky panky was involved in the booking decision, but the incident is still adding fuel to the rumor that the Lunch is hoping to reinforce its position in the Austin nightclub food chain by officially joining forces with Stubb's. Ward says that the two clubs, which have been sharing bookings and doing joint shows of late, have "a great friendship" but that there's no specific arrangement between the two. "There has been talk," she admits, "and there will be more" regarding the possibility of such a teaming, however. Better hurry -- if any of these doom stories come true, Liberty Lunch may have to move inside Stubb's.

Club Me Some More

The Lunch won't be able to move next to Stubb's, since there's a new venue getting set to debut in the space between that venue and the Atomic Cafe. Red Eyed Fly sounds to be something of a Casino el Camino-type hangout, at least for the weekends. The Fly guys say that there will be a small stage inside and another outside and live music of the alternative variety during the less busy part of the week, Sundays through Tuesdays. With fingers crossed, the Red Eyed Fly is slated for a mid-January opening, city paperwork willing. Meanwhile, further up on Sixth Street, next to Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar, look for the latest venture from Bob Woody and company, a little spot by the name of the Soho Lounge, scheduled to open by Christmas -- though Woody says that work won't really start on the place until December. Luckily, the place was formerly Eva's Cafe, and he says the only contruction needed will be an additional stairwell, a bar, and expansion of the restrooms. The Soho will be similar to the Ritz, with a free downstairs and mostly cover bands upstairs. With the recent work on Jazz, addition of Austin Blues, activity at Babe's, and recent sale of the Grove Drug building, Woody says that the whole block is set to be fully occupied and he expects it to be a hot new entertainment hub in 1999. "The 200 block of Sixth Street, he predicts, "is fixing to explode!"

Mixed Notes

A recent post on the Usenet's austin.music asserts, "The Austin music scene will never be the same without such a magnificent band [as Storyville]. Only Ian Moore can save us now. Oh wait, he moved to Seattle. No more quality music from the capital city." Well, the rest of you -- especially those who can't name more than three Austin bands -- have no doubt been screaming, "Where's that new album from Soulhat?" Answer: Kevin McKinney says that he delivered it to the CD plant around Hallowe'en and that it should show up any day now. The official release party for the disc, which is actually a self-titled six-song EP, is December 5 at Steamboat. The CD will be on the band's Shat Records label...

It's an established part of every Barenaked Ladies show that as a "surprise," the band calls a member of the club's security team up to play a guitar solo, generally resulting in the utter embarrassment of said bouncer. The folks at the Austin Music Hall show figured on slipping in their own surprise, however, planting Ten Percenter guitarist Michael J. at the front of the stage and passing him off as security (despite the fact that he's in no danger of being mistaken for "Stone Cold" Steve Austin). Naturally, when he got called up by the band, the somewhat minuscule would-be bouncer proceeded to play quite proficiently, leading to their momentary confusion, though the Ladies saw through the ruse fairly quickly and continued with their show. Ten Percenter plays a free show (with no tricks) this Saturday as part of Blondies' weekly musical blowout...

The Dubba-Dubba-Dubbayou-B Network has dubbed Abra Moore their new lucky charm, using her "Four Leaf Clover" as the plug song for their new series Felicity (Madonna's latest hit is their current tie-in). Moore's song will not only appear on the show, but in network ads for Felicity several times a day for the next four weeks...

Daniel Johnston is used to mostly Austin shows, so he was stunned to find a New Orleans crowd dancing all the way through his acoustic set in that city last week. A show in Houston also went well, but disaster struck in New York at his CMJ gig when Johnston couldn't find his all-important lyric notebook and had to leave the stage after only a couple of songs. He found it later, he says, but it was too late for him to make up the set, which his former Atlantic A&R man Yves Beauvoir had helped him with. Johnston plays the Hole in the Wall tonight (Thursday) with his notebook and the Rhythm Rats, who just may be able to get a few people to dance...

Local singer-songwriter Ginger McKenzie has been hard at work, reworking her last album to be her next album under the new name Learning How to Breathe. Enlisting the help of guitarist Billy White during his brief return to town, McKenzie recorded five new tracks with him, and says the new album will have some tracks added, others dropped, and the whole schmeer will be remixed and remastered from the original, which she says was "recorded at home and mastered by a friend." McKenzie adds that Atlantic has an option to pick up the finished product, and that "hopefully I won't have to redo it as often as 81*2 Souvenirs did." I should think not -- especially as she's not likely to have to replace the singer...

Rhino Records' Modern Blues disc features three Austin tracks: Stevie Ray Vaughan is represented with "Ain't Gone and Give Up on Love," his brother Jimmie Vaughan by "Just Like Putty," and his rhythm section Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon (as part of Storyville) with "What Passes For Love"...

Oops: Some people inferred that Kacy Crowley was off Atlantic from a comment in last week's column. Actually, all that was being implied was that, with Crowley fan Chris Blackwellbuying Rykodisc, she might have an ace up her sleeve if her deal with Atlantic ever hits an iceberg...

-- 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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