Dancing About Architecture

The SXSW Wind Blows In

Here it is -- the penultimate issue of the Chronicle before South by Southwest starts. Wait a minute. What am I saying?! Every year the boundary where SXSW begins blurs a little bit more, and since the Interactive Festival will be gearing up by the time many of you read this, this week's paper is actually the second of threeSXSW issues; Interactive was last week, the Film Festival gets the spotlight this week, and music is next week. This one is, however, the last issue appearing before next Wednesday's Austin Music Awards show, featuring Meg Hentges, the Resentments, Reckless Kelly with Joe Ely, Kinky Friedman, Davíd Garza,and Monte Warden with the Austin Family Robison. The Austin Music Hall, where the Awards show is presented, is also the first place the next issue will be available, so here's one last ten-hut! pointing you toward the local music community's annual prom. Remember, this year there's no Austin Music Network live broadcast, no videotaping for future viewing, and at press time, a proposed Internet broadcast is still iffy (check http://www.sxsw.com next week; if it's not listed there, it ain't happening). In other words, if you don't make it in person, you just won't make it at all.

If you've sprung for a wristband (currently still available at all Star Tickets outlets, albeit at the increased price of $95), you're most likely interested in the latest on which acts are playing SXSW proper, like say for instance Tom Waits (!!), who has confirmed as a festival showcase as we go to press: Saturday night, March 20, at the Paramount Theatre. Both SXSW and Waits' new label, Epitaph (on which the singer's first album in years, Mule Variations, comes out on April 27) estimate that this will be the stage-shy artist's first public performance (headlining) in eight years. Quite a coup. "Absolutely," says SXSW creative director Brent Grulke. "His first show in years. I understand Jody Denberg may have put the bug in his ear, to which I can only say, 'Thanks.' We should all say thanks to Jody." Word has it that Denberg, who flew out to the Bay Area to interview Waits a few weeks ago, mentioned the conference and suggested the singer come out to preview his new album. Apparently it worked. (Denberg is preparing for SXSW by vacationing in Mexico -- lucky stiff -- so we couldn't thank him or confirm this story.) Grulke says the Waits showcase, which will take place after the last film at the SXSW Film Festival Saturday night (11-11:30pm), will be a ticketed showcase, and that a very limited number of tickets will be made available Friday, March 19, with the rest going to badge- and wristband-holders. Both Grulke and Epitaph admit that not all the ticket details have been worked out yet, but remind fans to look on the festival Web site for updates.

Meanwhile, there's Beth Orton who's recently been hospitalized, but is expected to recover and play the fest. Other names that might be of interest include former Dicks leader Gary Floyd, who's playing as part of his new band, Black Kali Ma, Jon Langford among the members of the Pine Valley Cosmonauts (presumably along with other Bloodshot Records acts), and Leon Russell'sspecial showcase guest Willie Nelson (the two will also be taping at Austin City Limits earlier in the evening and at KSGR for a live on-air performance in the afternoon). Oh, take note also of some sneakiness on the part of Social Distortion's Mike Ness, expected to play his showcase solo, before announcing that he's actually going to be backed by Rev. Horton Heat's backup boys. And that reminds me, Seattle's Verbena says their bass player can't make it, and we hear that Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, who produced the band's last album, may fill in. Maybe he'll also pal around with that Krist Novaselic guy who's here with L7.

Returning to what's happening before the next Chronicle appears, only you can decide if it's worth leaving the Austin Music Awards to attend the Porn to Rock showcase Wednesday at Stubb's. Supporting a CD of the same name, and thus ushering in a whole new era of golden-throat recordings (and deep throat, and golden shower), featured "actors" and "actresses" of the skin trade include Madison, Midori, and Nina ("a hot, crazy, big-titted champion oil wrestler") Whett, followed by sets from Dial 7(shouldn't that be "Dial 1-900"?) and the newly confirmed Toadies (wow! I didn't know Ron Jeremy had a band!). If you're looking for somewhere a little less XXX rated, there's always Jeff Beck at La Zona Rosa, with current Jackofficers member DJ K-Hole spinning discs as opener. Don't expect to see onetime Beck drummer Terry Bozzio onstage that evening, though you can check his solo showcase out the following night at La Zona. I wouldn't be surprised, however, to see him in the audience at Beck's performance, nor that of Robert Fripp's ProjeKct Three, where he can observe the style of fellow Austinite Pat Mastelotto on the skins.

Of course, there's more to SXSW than appears on the surface. It's a conference at the (bleah) Convention Center, it's a Music Festival all over town, it's film and interactive stuff, and whether conference organizers like it or not, SXSW also encompasses a veritable cornucopia of unofficial, hanger-on, and plain old anti-SXSW events. There is, simply put, no way to live in or visit the city of Austin, Texas, during the week(s) of SXSW and not notice that something out of the ordinary is going on. The first non-sanctioned events that I'm aware of this year are the SxSouth of the Sun Showcases at the Laughing at the Sun Gallery, 2209 S. First Street, kicking off today (Thursday) at 7pm with the play Who Killed Mona Lisa (featuring a cameo by Toni Price as the grinning gal herself), followed by Polk, Barton and Towhead -- a bill that repeats Friday evening at the same time. A zillion other events follow swiftly, including some that don't necessarily have the remotest connection to SXSW, but which I'm including here anyhow to help you plan for the hectic days ahead. For instance, there are a number of events taking place on the GSD&M parking garage rooftop (at the soon-to-be hopelessly clogged intersection of Sixth Street and Lamar) during the SXSW Film and Music Festivals; this week there's a screening of Spider Baby and Switchblade Sisters hosted by Quentin Tarantino, Sid Haig, and Jack Hill on Monday 6:30pm-midnight, and a Guy Forsyth CD release party (GSD&M designed the cover art for his new album) on Tuesday 5-7pm. FringeWare will host an open house reception at their bookstore on Saturday, 11am-4pm for the SXSW Interactive Conference, featuring authors, artists, and multimedia programmers associated with FringeWare projects, including author R.U. Sirius and Ray Thomas of RTMark, along with sales representatives from the Church of the SubGenius. Food and drinks will be provided and the event is free and open to the public. Hey, if it's good enough for J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, it's good enough for you! Conversely, there's a closing party for the Interactive Fest on Tuesday at Twist featuring Ben Neill and Helmet's Page Hamilton. This Friday at 8pm, Dick Clark presents an "All-Star Jam" with the Argyles, Hot Wax, Archie Bell, Superego, and special guests at the American Bandstand Grill at S. I-35 and Hwy 183. (SXSW says they inquired into having the well-preserved Dick stay for the conference, but either they don't have as much pull as Paul Minor or my last near-encounter with the man left him wary of any event tangentially related to the Chronicle). There's a free concert on the Eastside next Wednesday at Fourth and Chicon, 5-10pm, with Manuel Donley, Niños con Bombas, and Los Moscosos, presented by Dedicated to Our Youth. And since benefits, as always, continue to offer aid to the needy in Austin through music, I should mention that this weekend there's a hurricane relief gig for the Nicaraguans, featuring Toqui Amaru and Sazon on Friday starting at 7pm at the Grace United Methodist Church. There's also the Shawn O'Connor Irish Fest getting a jump on St. Patrick's Day, with a 1-6pm Sunday fête benefiting the American Institute for Learning, and featuring the music of Lost Tribe, Silver Thistle Pipes & Drums,and Two O'Clock Courage. On top of everything else, next Wednesday is St.Patrick's Day aka the Day of the Dead Drunk! May I add that if you find yourself anywhere near the Dog & Duck Pub on that day, remember the two most important words you'll ever read on these pages: Pace yourself!


Mixed Notes

Sometimes the news is just too big to fit in this column, so if you're one of those types who just skims "Dancing," "News of the Weird," and selected Personals, there's two detours you may wish to make this week: First, there's a new "glitch" in the city's dealings with CSC that doesn't directly affect Liberty Lunch's situation at the moment but could affect whether the whole agreement gets made. Essentially, the city's plans to purchase the nearby Hobby Building, once an integral part of the proposed deal, have stalled, but check out "Council Watch" for the full story. Second, even if you haven't been following the long-running coverage of the KOOP (91.7FM) kontroversy, you may have noticed that the station is now off the air, replaced by stepsister station KVRX doing double duty. To find out what the future may bring for the frequency, turn to "Naked City"...

With former Asylum Street Spankers guitarist Guy Forsyth's new solo album on the way, and a new album from current guit-man Dave Biller sharing rack space with the brand-spanking new one from the Spankers themselves, one might figure that it was time for history to repeat itself and for Biller to be the next member to move on. You'd be correct, too, but not because Biller wants to concentrate on his own career. Spanker Pops Bayless says that touring is keeping Biller away from his family too often, so the axeman is bowing out amicably Stretford's new album (reviewed this week in the "SXSW Record Reviews" section) had been delayed for as long as anyone can remember, but Carl Normal insists he'll have copies in time for the band's release party at the Hole in the Wall on Friday. Actually, Normal took a comparable amount of time to come up with the right wording to explain the reasons behind the delay, which in the end came down to there being some sort of disagreement over the packaging of the disc. I can't say whether or not the problem had to do with the original artwork featuring a woman, a dog collar, and a stinky glove, but I would've given anything to hear Normal postulate, in his imitable British accent, "What's wrong with being sexy?" In any case, Friday they'll make an interview/live set appearance this Friday on the Austin Music Network at 4pm, then the Hole gig later that night, and next Wednesday they'll do an in-store at Thirty Three Degrees with the Shindigs, 4pm...

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

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