Dancing About Architecture

Flipping Your Whigs

Taiter flinched when he saw the Yankee fella ambling towards him. The skinny Northerner had been gettin' quite a few looks from the local gals that night, and that stuck in Taiter's craw. He glanced over at Porkchop, winked, and took a swing. Yankee-boy went down like a swaller of premium corn likker."

Yep, what I have in front of me is the lawsuit against Liberty Lunch and several individuals in the venue's employ, filed last Thursday by the Afghan Whigs as a group and vocalist Greg Dulli specifically. The above paragraph is my own interpretation of an event described in the document, but trust me, given the characters (two club bouncers, including one being sued, are actually referred to only as "Taiter" and "Porkchop"), and actions (drunken brawls, Civil War-based prejudices), the dang thing reads like an unproduced Dukes of Hazzard episode.

It's not Boss Hogg who'll be passing judgment in this case, however. Odd as it may read, the suit is for real and claims that everything you've read so far about the events leading to Dulli's trip to Brackenridge Hospital early December 13 is a lie concocted by the Lunch. In a nutshell, previous reports have quoted witnesses as saying that Dulli, upset over an earlier encounter, approached Taiter while wielding a two-by-four and announced, "We have some unfinished business, Billy Goat Boy," before falling down and cracking his head on the pavement in the ensuing melee.

Dulli's lawyers, on the other hand, paint a completely different picture; that of an oblivious Dulli emerging from the club's restroom at a post-show "meet 'n' greet," empty-handed apart from his cigarette, at which point Taiter, apparently disliking the band for their Northern origins and for banging loudly on the club's doors earlier in the day, "blindsided Mr. Dulli and delivered a blow that forced him to the ground." Taiter, the suit alleges, continued to batter and kick the defenseless Dulli about the head, resulting in a skull fracture and hospitalization; when another band member attempted to help Dulli, the suit continues, Porkchop came to Taiter's rescue by knocking the other Whig upside the head as well. Besides the assault charges, the suit makes claims of slander against the club based on statements made by Lunch managers J'Net Ward and Mileah Jordan in earlier reports.

Our record speaks for itself," declares an otherwise laconic Ward, denying the band's charges of her statements being falsified. "We have never assaulted a performer in 22 years [since the club's inception]." Ward said she had not yet seen the suit, though she unwittingly reflected its geocentricity by adding, "I want to say a lot of stuff, but being a true Texan, I'll refrain from saying anything."

Previously, the club's lawyer, Geoffrey Pivateau, had stated to the press that as the incident occured after closing time, it "didn't involve Liberty Lunch, per se." Hearing of the new charges, however, Ward did not dismiss the idea of a countersuit. The Afghan Whigs, meanwhile, have announced that five performances that had been canceled due to Dulli's injury will be rescheduled for February. Interestingly, all five of the clubs where the gigs will take place are located above the Mason-Dixon line, while an Atlanta, Ga. show was apparently simply scrapped.


And Balls Beget Balls

If you were appalled by the butt-humor photograph relating to the Fastball tour that ran in this column a couple of weeks ago, just be glad I didn't follow it up with the rear-view shot of Tony Scalzo's new little 'un as seen on the family's Christmas postcards (though I suppose it would make a good reminder to, er, pamper yourself this holiday season). By the by, you know from reading our recent cover story on Fastball that when Scalzo, Miles Zuniga, and Joey Shuffield appear on Dick Clark's New Years' Rockin' Eve TV program as 1998 turns into 1999, they won't really be hanging with Dick at all; their appearance was pre-recorded. So I might as well wreck the ending: Miles spends a lot of time at the finis with his arm around Monica (as in Brandy & Monica), grinning for the cameraman, who couldn't find anyone else around famous enough to focus on (apparently this "Monica" person is really famous). In reality, Fastball will be playing a gig in Houston on New Year's, but as far as I'm concerned, they've already performed their local, seasonal community service; I had forgotten to give my annual warning to musicians to watch those space heaters until I heard the anecdote about FB's soundman blowing a gasket at Liberty Lunch (the night after the Afghan Whigs fiasco!) and kicking in a space heater before their show. Seriously, people, every year Austin loses a lot of musicians' possessions to fires caused by those sneaky little space heaters, and we're lucky to not have a fleet of lives following suit. Never leave one of those flaming devils unattended, even if it means you have to run out of your day job to go home and double-check. Alright, end of speech. I'm off the soapbox ...


Look for the Austin Label

Look for several new local labels to start popping up in the months to come. To name one specifically, keep an eye open for Eco-Disaster Music, a new label from Mark Kenyon, Skip Hiatt, and Robert Jacks. You know them from various bands (and Jacks as Leatherface in the most recent installment of TheTexas Chainsaw Massacre), and their new label's plans call for upcoming releases from locals such as Jaws of Life, Swine King, and Pretty Mouth to emerge around the end of January. Following those discs, February finds a Deborah Harry (of the re-formed Blondie)/Jacks duet on the books, the two longtime friends performing the love theme from Chainsaw, and a new album from Jeff Potts (keyboardist with Govinda). The most ambitious project for Eco-Disaster so far, however, is a Big Boys/Dicks tribute album, still in the planning stages. The hope is for a 1999 release and some big name acts. Exene Cervenka of X is expected to be a shoo-in, and hopefully other beloved punks and non-punks will follow suit.

Ana Egge also phoned in this week to report she'll be debuting her own label, Grace Records, this spring when she releases her new live album, which she is co-producing with Rich Brotherton. That album was recorded at shows on both the East and West Coasts as well as in Austin at Flipnotics, and she's been working on assembling it since she returned from her fall tour; she says the most amusing part of the trek was running into people from here, as in playing a Philly gig with Danny Barnes and just hangin' with Rosie Flores in Long Beach.


Mixed Notes

Roland Swenson at South by Southwest called just as we were going to press to say that the music festival has posted names on its web site (http://www.sxsw.com) of bands playing SXSW '99, so we took a peak: Bare Jr., DJ Carbo, Joe Henry, King Chango, Mercury Rev, Seagu ll Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her, The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs,Sugar Plant, and Jim White. Lots more names on the site, and obviously the big ones are a long way from being announced, but suffice it to say the name game has begun...

We've learned through repeated experience that Austin artists on Mercury Records do not remain there long (i.e., Prescott Curlywolf). Wammo is no exception, though his long-in-the-works next album for a Mercury subsidiary is still tentatively set to appear early 1999. See, it's not Wammo that Mercury shitcanned, it's spoken word division Mouth Almighty. It better come out, too, having been a work-in-progress for a year and a half now...

I mentioned this (very) briefly here last week, but another bit of Austin's music history will be vanishing come 1999. Technophilia, the first used CD store in a town which can support many and has proven so, is closing its doors as of the beginning of January. The owners say they simply feel it's time to move on, and that things haven't really been the same since they relocated to their current location on the Drag where "you're just put in with everybody." Yes, there's a sale going on, and no, I don't think they're doing a lot of buying...

Earthpig & Fire have retired from live performance, if you were wondering why you hadn't seen them lately. Look for the 'Pig (akaAdam Bork) playing Moog synthesizer with Li'l Cap'n Travis sometimes; otherwise look for EP&F's Greatest Hits Vol. II available around town ...

Quick! Name the major label Texas rock band that you're least likely to name: It's probably Bloodrock, they of the grinding Seventies hit "D.O.A." Believe it or not, there's a Web site devoted to the band and a 30th anniversary convention planned for Dallas next spring (http://bloodrock.simplenet.com/ for more info). No, it doesn't look like the purveyors of speedless metal will perform a reunion show at the get-together, though a missive from member Rick Cobb to the band's Web-fans states that, "Because of your renewed interest in one of the more underrated bands of the early Seventies (we were never given a proper burial in the press), some of us in the group are actually speaking to one another again"...

Fans of the Pixies were no doubt surprised to see an almost-reunion of the embattled Sincola playing at the Pixieshoot night at the Electric Lounge several weeks ago. Well, since then, vocalist Rebecca Cannon, the sole member who was absent from the show, announced she's moving to New York next summer, and Greg Wilson (the band's guitarist, "Wendel Stivers") is expected to work with her soon as payback for his defection to the "other side" at the hoot...

Spoon has a new 7-inch out on Mag Wheel Records, "Anticipation"/"Headz"...

Producers of the cool Penn & Teller show on the FX network (which we don't get here, thanks to Time-Warner Communication, though we are "blessed" with Donnie & Marie every goddamn weekday morning) have just submitted the budget to the appropriate parties for a variety show starring Phranc and former Antone's recording artist Candye Kane! No television show really exists until it first airs, but word from insiders say chances are good, and that Kane is reportedly very excited. I almost feel like I should be able to predict the show's future, as I seem to be psychic in matters ar-Kane: Regarding a joke I made in this column a good while back, suggesting that Larry Flynt Enterprises oughtta put a good word in for her new rekkid, Kane just sent this e-mail: "They do have a music section in Hustler and they did review my record for Sire!!! How about that?" No news from Kane on whether the album got a "limp dick" or a "raging woody" rating...


-- Contributors: Michael Bertin, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer

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The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."

Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

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