Dancing About Architecture
Pushing the Envelope
Fortunately, the Chronicle already ran an in-depth look at the Grammy Awards, because the last thing I need to do with South by Southwest breathing down my neck is to try and analyze why Lucinda Williams has at various times been up for awards in the folk, rock, and country categories. Instead, because NARAS ignored my plea to have the awards presented sometime other than a Wednesday (they blew off my suggestion of having Harvey Sid Fisher host, too), here's a somewhat tardy look at how Texas came off in the competition: Lucinda Williams won "Best Contemporary Folk Album," Los Super Seven took "Best Mexican American Performance," and LS7 member Flaco Jimenez grabbed an additional statue for himself in the Tejano category. Sadly, Fastball failed to win in either of their categories ("Best Rock Performance" and "Best Long Form Video"), but apparently were expected to be happy instead with escorting "Jane" from the quirky new TV show Duncan, Zoe, Jack, and Jane to the ceremonies. They must've felt honored seeing as Tony Scalzo even went back on his threat to not wear a suit.
Of course, NARAS does more than just put on the Grammys -- like assembling showcases for SXSW, such as this year's big Tejano fiesta (training future Grammy nominees, no doubt). The Thursday showcase at the Austin Music Hall includes Javier Galvan y Fama, Rick Treviño, Los Fugitivos, Los Mismos, y La Tropa F. On the urban side of things, meanwhile, SXSW organizers admit they don't really know rap from a ho' in the ground, so they've enlisted the help of local knowledgables Hip Hop Mecca and Kinetic Productions. Given that rap is said to be responsible for some 40% of album sales in the country these days, they've gone for some big names this year (though Emenem is out -- I think DJ Butterfinger dropped a turntable on his foot), including Inspectah Deck of the Wu Tangs, former X-cutioners member Rob Swift, the Mystic Journeymen, and Dafari alongside locals like 512 and Disgruntled Seeds. Plans for the showcase at Bob Popular on Friday, March 19 calls for the club's three stages to present 25-plus acts, with breaking teams and graffiti exhibitions concurrent with the music. The SXSW crew reminds folks that single-ticket holders are still lower priority than wristbands and badges, so now may be a good time to mention that those wristbands are currently available through any Star Tickets outlet for $65, and are expected to sell out by Friday. If you don't get in, however, head over to the free outdoor stage located in Waterloo Park at 12th and Red River. That same Friday showcases Joe Ely and friends, and Saturday's concert presents Spoon, Damnations TX, Gourds, and Guided by Voices. Take note that there's also music to be found at SXSW Interactive (March 13-16), which features a keynote speech by Phillip Glass along with a performance of his digital 3-D opera, Monsters of Grace, and SXSW Film (March 12-20), including a screening of L7's Krist Novaselic-directed mockumentary, The Beauty Process; Live Tin, documentaries on Radiohead and Robert Johnson, and Dill Scallion, a country music comedy featuring fest guest Jason Priestley, best known around the Chron offices as the voice of Bo Diddley Squat on the Terrible Thunderlizards cartoon.
Noah More ARC?
Anything could still happen at this point, but by the first of April, there's a good chance that the Austin Rehearsal Complex will be no more. No, the City didn't decide that 1109-B S. Congress would be a good spot to erect a limpet mine factory, though this story does tie in with that of Liberty Lunch, believe it or not. Remember last week I quoted J'net Ward as saying she was looking at the possibility of teaming up with a local music business (not music venue, take note) in the process of being bought out of their current location? Well, the ARC is the business in question, and the potential buyout is due to a very large bid on the property coming from Book People owners, the Stan Beadleman Group. The ARC, it seems, has a long, unpleasant history of legal troubles with their current landlord, and ARC co-proprietor Wayne Nagel says the complex finally won a four-year battle over permission to expand their operation, but the cost of the victory was such that the owners, in order to pay off a large lost profits settlement to the ARC, have announced that they'll have to sell the building in which it resides. Nagel says the price offered by the Book People folks is far more than he can match, so if the deal goes through on March 23, when a decision is expected, the ARC will be looking for a new home. Nagel will be home alone when he finds one, also, as partner Don Harvey has elected to "take the money and go home -- he's the smart one of this duo. I haven't had enough abuse!" Among the possible abuses sought by Nagel are, as mentioned above, a partnership with Liberty Lunch as the centerpiece of a large conglomeration of music-related businesses, much like in years past, when the ARC, a guitar school, the Opera House/Terrace, and other music-themed companies were located on the block. Again, Ward points out that the idea is only one of many possibilities for the future of the Lunch. Nagel also reiterates that things are still very much in the air, but such a haven of "musical synergy" would be an "ideal thing."
In an unrelated development, down the lane where Arlyn Studios stands, the razing of the aforementioned Terrace has led some to ask if that venerable Austin institution will be facing the bulldozer as well, but owner Freddy Fletcher makes it clear that he's not planning on going anywhere. In fact, he's gotten construction shut down in a dispute over disruptions caused to his business by the wrecking ball, though he adds that the issue is expected to be resolved shortly as the case goes into arbitration at the end of the month. Say, when's the last time you heard of a studio filing a noise complaint?!
Show Me the Melon
Tuesday of this week marked the second of a series of meetings in bankruptcy court between Watermelon Records and several of the label's acts who claim to be owed money, and while the attorney advisor for the case called the get-together "low-key," there was definitely tension in the room. The purpose of these assemblages is to gather information as to who owes what to whom, what forms have been filed where, etc. While the general appearance was that Watermelon owner Heinz Geissler is slowly but surely gathering the necessary information, an attorney for several of the dozen or so acts represented at the court says she worries that Geissler's efforts haven't produced a coherent enough set of numbers for her clients to properly prepare a proof of claim for any monies they believe they are owed (such proof is due in May). Geissler later said he thought the morning had gone "very well," but it was clear during the discussions that he, like his opponents, was unsatisfied with the level of communication between his company and distributor Sire Records. Lack of information between the two record labels appears to be the major blockage in moving this case forward, and rumbling among the potential creditors centers around the question of whether Watermelon is pursuing the matter as strongly as they might. In all fairness, I've gotta say to the bands, give Watermelon a break; they're getting the runaround from a record company. You wouldn't want that to happen to you, now would ya?
Chatter has been going around about a fellow in San Marcos claiming to be the new guitarist for Spoon, a claim that spoonman Britt Daniel soundly decries, reminding all that it's bass players, not guitarists, that the band tends to run through. Still, says Daniel, "Considering the trouble Jim and I have gotten in with Spoon ex-members, pre-members, etc., we'd like this guy to give us a call as soon as possible so we can work out his mechanical royalty percentage." Also, for those who missed it the first time, Spoon's A Series of Sneaks is being re-released this month by Vapor Records on CD and vinyl...
There was a nationwide epidemic of blah, blah, blah courtesy of the Geezinslaws last Monday. No, the group's album of that name didn't belatedly top the charts. Instead, Don Imus caused a major ruckus on his nationally syndicated radio show -- as well as on Geezinslaw Sammy Allred's KVET morning show -- apparently at the behest of Kinky Friedman, regarding the author/cigar smoker/musician's upcoming $100-per-reservation "Bone-efit" for the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch (see "Music Listings"). Claiming that Allred had been dissing the March 10 show at La Zona Rosa show because his band hadn't gotten high enough billing, Imus gave out KVET's 1-800 number and urged his listeners to hound the Allred and Bob Cole team over their "dog-murdering" attitude, while Allred in turn gave out a number allowing his listeners to hunt down Friedman. Naturally, all of this led to some mighty gruff name-calling on the nation's airwaves. In short order, Allred called Imus an "over the hill, straw-haired anachronism," and barked that "Stinky" Friedman had been "living off his father's tit till he was 50." Imus, for his part, labelled the Cole/Allred team a pair of "puppy-stomping stooges" and railed on Howard Stern for no reason in particular. Things seemed to have calmed down since then, and by Tuesday, Friedman and Allred were heard chatting peacefully about the ordeal. Then again, the howling may not be over yet, as Imus' Monday command to his followers was to continue to try to "collar" the KVET duo for the rest of the week...
--Contributors: Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser