Dancing About Architecture


Invasion of the Carpetbaggers

Last week this column covered the plight of the financially strapped Electric Lounge and its attempts to stay open a few more months. These days, however, an Austin club that features live original "alternative" music (for lack of a better term) doesn't even have to be struggling to get tossed out on its ass; all that has to happen is for someone with more money to come bullying their way into our lovely boom town and plunk down a fistful of shekels and bang, zoom, you're outta there. Such is the situation with Liberty Lunch, and now one of the River City's finest outlets for noisenoisenoise has announced that it's closing its doors at the end of the month: Bates Motel manager Randall Stockton says the club has lost its lease. "Someone currently nameless approached our landlord several months ago with an offer he couldn't refuse -- so we're out," explains Stockton. The rumor going around is that the space is destined to become yet another frat bar (oh, joy) but there's been no confirmation on anything beyond the Bates' farewell. Stockton hopes to have a new club open downtown in time for South by Southwest time, and though I offer him the best of luck, I have to stick with the Chronicle's official "we'll believe it when we walk through the door" policy. Having been burned once, he declines to name any locations he's considering, but says he's hoping to find someplace "a little bigger and with fewer fire hazards and building code violations. Oh, and a roof that doesn't leak would be nice!" Punks and posers alike should take advantage of the current club's remaining days, as Stockton intends to go out with a bang. Last shows include the Secret Lovers, Media Kreeps, Shimmy Smashup, and Teen Cool this Friday, Miss Laura's Infamous Underwear Party with Pocket FishRmen, Squat Thrust, and special guests on Saturday (with no cover for people who show up at the door in their underwear) and a final kissoff January 30 with the Kiss Offs.

Given the murder of the Bates, the news of Austin's newest punk club -- the Purgatory on Red River -- possibly being sacrificed for big money shouldn't come as a surprise, right? Well, guess what? Purgatory owner Katherine Kinslow confirms that she's already received a somewhat suspicious offer from the owners of the in-progress Spiro's, "Austin's only upscale nightclub," which will be taking the spot that formerly housed the Naked Grape; the soon-to-be club's answering machine promises live music in their "beautiful outdoor European Garden" along with valet parking, V.I.P. treatment, extensive champagne selection, and rumor has it, marble sidewalks out front. Kinslow says the offer was suspicious in that she was led to believe that her landlord had already approved the deal (á la the Bates) when he had in fact not been approached. She says she intends to hang on to the Purgatory's current location unless she gets an outrageously large offer to relocate. If she were to close, she says, "There's really not going to be a lot of places for young people to play who aren't ready for Emo's."

With the embattled state of so many of this type of club, it's nice to hear that Emo's, conveniently located on the other side of Spiro's, and set for a culture clash when that European garden opens out back, is continuing to keep its head above the rising water. Eric "Emo" Hartman says he has no plans to divest himself of the club any time soon -- unless someone offers him an outrageously large offer to relocate (this has always been his stance, actually, but I'm sensing a trend here). Emo's did boffo box last Sunday, by the way, with their SIMS benefit starring the new Meat Puppets. Besides helping the musicians' mental health organization, the club itself no doubt also collected a good night's wages, as I'm told at the end of the night their alcohol resources were down to a single case of beer. Interestingly, Hartman says that regarding the possible relocation of Liberty Lunch (as I've said before, this is not a done deal), he at one point considered contacting the Lunch Money folks and suggesting they join forces and expand Emo's to include the former site of Tropical Isle. Hearing of other, more likely alliances that the Lunch could pursue (with Stubb's, for instance) Hartman says he never made the call. What's interesting about this is that this isn't the first we've heard of local clubowners possibly joining ranks. With this current climate of tear-it-down-and-build-something-anything-in-its-place enveloping Austin, gathering the music wagons against the city council and their developer friends is necessary.

Also on the Lunch/City Council front, assistant city manager Toby Futrell announced at a recent Downtown Commission meeting that the city has located three potential new sites for the Lunch, all of them "in or near downtown" (Lunch personnel say this is news to them but they expect to hear more this week). One interesting and little-covered aspect of the city's moving the Computer Sciences Corporation into and around the area where the Lunch now stands is that the suburban-oriented CSC themselves never considered a downtown location to be advantageous until the city offered it. In fact, the company reportedly only finds the space potentially agreeable because of its lakefront location. Great reason to tear down Liberty Lunch.

Believe it or not, Austin Blues is finally scheduled to open for real tonight (Thursday) with the debut of Omar & the Howlers Swingland Revue, Mr. Dykes and company's jump onto the big band bandwagon. The club will be open nights only through the weekend and then will begin serving lunch on Monday, says general manager Randy Gossett. The Howlers Revue is scheduled for the next three Thursdays before heading off on a European tour and releasing an album in March. As far as Austin Blues, time will tell whether the new club can get over what must be a huge kick in the overhead caused by the weeks of delays before its opening. And in other club news, keep an eye on Jazz's upstairs venue, which made its debut on New Year's Eve. The 250-seater -- that's the official "capacity," the room is actually much bigger -- is mostly intended for banquet use, but will offer special occasion concerts (like Ponty Bone on Fat Tuesday) and will also be a SXSW venue this year. Look also for possible cover band activity on Wednesdays and Thursdays.


Another Face in the Crowd

Ian McLagan was seen mixing Faces outtakes at the Hit Shack recently for the upcoming Rhino anthology Good Boys ...

While They're Asleep, the first release of "new" material by the Faces (Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan, Ron Wood, Kenney Jones, and Rod Stewart) since a live album in 1975. Austinite McLagan has been a busy boy of late, with his bio All the Rage recently issued in England, and a new album Best of British on the way. Mac's new and improved Big Bump Band (with Gurf Morlix added to a lineup of Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Sarah Brown, and Austin Music Network music director Don Harvey) make their live debut Friday, January 29 at the Saxon Pub, with Mac also appearing in a special half-hour segment on AMN this Wednesday, 7-10pm, as part of their Texas Best program. That program will feature classic and new footage from various stages of McLagan's career.


Mixed Notes

For those who have been wondering why you still see Tim Stegall around when he made a big deal of moving to New York a few months ago, the Hormones leader says he'll be heading for the Big Apple after Valentine's Day. Why then? "I'm sticking around [long enough] for Cheap Trick," he explains (their three-night stand takes place February 10-12 at La Zona Rosa). No, the Hormones won't be opening any of those shows, and in fact, Stegall says he's abandoned plans to start the group anew in NY, saying "What I'm doing musically has always been too narrowly defined by two words, punk rock"...

Speaking of Cheap Trick, collectors are apparently running rabid over Jody Denberg's promotional Yoko Ono interview disc that features a long unreleased version of a song by that band backing John Lennon. Apparently, Denberg was given a batch of cuts to choose from before the final selections were made for the Lennon box set, so he ended up with material not available on the commercial release...

And speaking of John Lennon, congratulate the members of Dexter Freebish for taking the Grand Prize in the Pop category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Beating out some 6,000 entries in the category, the band's prizes include $2,000 cash, $5,000 worth of Yamaha studio equipment, and a $5,000 advance on an EMI publishing contract -- if they choose to accept it. Elton John and members of Blues Traveller were among those who voted the Freebish boys in the top category, and they're hoping Ringo Starr and others will take a shine to it as they vie for the final, pan-categoric $20,000 prize in March...

Considering that there's bound to be some communication confusion in the aftermath of the Jimmie Vaughan/Mark Proct split, I went to Sony's Andy Schwartz to answer one dangling question: "What's up with the Stevie Ray Vaughan box set?" Reports Schwartz, "Repertoire research is continuing on the box set, with the cooperation and participation of Jimmie Vaughan. At this time, there is no assigned release date." So look for it -- eventually...

Hey, if you weren't satisfied with last week's teaser list of names confirmed by SXSW this year, don't forget that they have over 300 names on their Web site already. Just go to http://www.sxsw.com...

There's a benefit for former Armadillo doorman John McGee Saturday at Mercedes Martinez restaurant. It's an all-day, no-cover affair (the benefit part is based on donations) featuring LeeAnn Atherton, Shiva's Headband, Texacala Jones, and many others...

Look for KVRX's third compilation CD (see "Texas Platters"), if you've been waiting for someone to put out a disc containing material from Don Walser, Zulu as Kono, the Kiss Offs, and the University of Texas Afro-Caribbean Ensemble...

Paul Ahern, ex of the Adults and currently with Viper Horse, sends notice of an I Spy game you can play while watching Robert Rodriguez's new movie The Faculty. Says Ahern: "Pete, the Adults' ex-lead guitarist, worked in the camera department on said flick and took the liberty of liberally affixing Adults stickers to all available surfaces of the set, resulting in an exciting array of cognitive opportunities for Adults fans and civilians alike." Sounds like a really Adult thing to do, guys...



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

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The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."

Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

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