Dancing About Architecture

The Next Best Thing!

Things are going great guns for Davíd Garza these days, thanks in no small part to the Best Buy "Find 'em First" ad campaign, which also includes Mary Cutrufello, Kelly Willis, and others, and for which Garza was chosen to lead the charge. Currently touring solo as part of an MTV-sponsored tour with Sugar Ray and Orgy, Garza will rejoin his band (who have been recording new instrumental tracks without him) for the Heineken Summer Music Festival in Beijing on May 15 and dates with Pearl Jam spinoff Three Fish in June (local stop: La Zona Rosa 6/16), as he continues to plug his This Euphoria album, which manager Steve Ochs says has moved a good 4,000-5,000 units since the "Find 'em First" program was initiated two months ago. That's not "tearing the world wide open," admits Ochs, especially given the intensity of the campaign, which includes large store displays, print ads, and a flagship television campaign starring Garza. It is, however, already "enough to get Atlantic Records to rethink the album," says Ochs, and these days if you're on a major label your most important task is to not lose their attention.

A savvy music department employee at the Best Buy on Research says that Garza's album had been selling exceptionally well at the store, but points out that "David -- er, Davíd -- has always done well here." He says that from what he's seen, the other artists in the ad campaign haven't been selling as well as what he expects Best Buy had hoped for, noting that the ratio will probably change as the other artists get their turn at the TV spots. Overall, he opines, "Find 'em First" is looking like one of Best Buy's better sales ploys. "You should see some of the things these people come up with -- it boggles the mind!" More importantly, "Find 'em First" could be an important experiment in introducing lesser known artists to new fans in a music industry gone insane. "They're out to show that a retailer can affect sales as well as radio or MTV," observes Ochs, saying that, at this point, if nothing else, when Garza's next album comes out, "the record wouldn't be starting all over again. [Atlantic] won't have to re-educate people about Davíd." Kelly Willis would appear to be next in line for "Find 'em First's" attention. Just last week, Willis shot her TV commercial for the campaign, says booker Davis McLarty (Willis and manager Joe Priesnitz were en route to David Letterman's place at press time). Ochs says he's not worried about Garza losing his place in Best Buy's spotlight, as "the plan was always for more than one artist" to be showcased. Meanwhile, discussions are in the works for the megastore to release an exclusive album along the lines of Garza's indie Four Track Manifesto. The experiment continues.

Lowe Point of His Career

David Holt says that busting his chops to get back onstage full time is the last thing on his mind in the wake of Storyville's demise. That, however, is not stopping him from getting ready to work on a solo album with jolly oldeNick Lowe at the helm. Holt says he's heading to London later this year to work with Lowe and his band on an album, with the two of them co-writing. Holt also expects spousal songwriters Bill Carter and Ruth Ellsworth, who have been galavanting around the U.K. of late with pal Johnny Depp, to be involved with the project. With so many cooks in the kitchen, though, Holt admits that "it's undetermined as to whose record it will end up being." Sounds like Lowe's work with the Fabulous Thunderbirds in the mid-Eighties; he produced their T-Bird Rhythm album, and both the T-Birds and Lowe's Cowboy Outfit ended up recording their own versions of the Lowe/Kim Wilson-penned "One's Too Many (and a Hundred Ain't Enough)."

Lowe came to Austin recently with the specific goal of planning a recording schedule for the disc, though his trip to the USA was overall a getaway while his London home was getting a makeover; Holt says Lowe claimed he had to get away from the "hairy-arsed geezers" who had been turned loose on his poor house. Lowe further took advantage of his Austin time to catch Hubert Sumlin at Antone's and to stay up 'til 4am drinking and playing songs with his local friends. Whatever the reasons for the visit, Holt eagerly proclaims his appreciation of Lowe, who among other things landed Holt his stint with Carlene Carter in the early part of this decade. Until the time to head overseas comes, Holt says that he's more than satisfied playing a mere two gigs a week -- Wednesdays at the Saxon Pub with fellow Story-teller David Grissom and Thursdays at Antone's with the Inmates. Oh, and by the way, Holt pooh-poohs talk that fellow Inmate Will Sexton is relocating to California, but confirms that the local songwriter has been hitting the coast a lot to work with current partner in music David Baerwald of "Welcome to the Boomtown" fame (to modify the song for Austin, Will could simply add "But Don't Move Here" to the title). As far as a proper Storyville reunion, Holt promises unbidden that he'll call the Chronicle to let us know about it. "But it ain't gonna happen any time soon, I can tell ya that."

Just What the Doctors Ordered

Look for a new Doctors Mob CD in June on Bosco's Hoedown Records label. Well, okay, it's not actually a new album, it's a twofer of the legendary Austin "New Sincerity" band's long, long out of print mid-Eighties albums, Headache Machine and the prophetically titled Sophomore Slump. If you're wondering whether the tracks have been remixed or mucked with in any way, the answer is a resounding "No," because the disc was in fact remastered off copies of the old vinyl albums. The band-owned master tapes "had been sitting around for too long -- they were no good," says Don Lamb, guitarist for the band whose motto was "Show up Late, Show up Drunk, or Don't Show up at All." On top of that, Relativity Records, who released Slump, told the band that they'd be glad to give the band their blessing and their master tapes, only to discover that those materials were also lost. Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova did a bang-up job on the CD anyhow, says Lamb, who gushes that during the mastering sessions "we were hearing stuff we never knew was on there!" The disc is titled Last One in the Van Drives, referring to the band's bittersweet recollections of their touring days. "That was serious band policy -- I'm surprised we're all still alive," recalls former Mob sound man Brent Grulke, who currently has a real job. In keeping with the Mob motto, drummer Glenn Benavidez failed to show up for the band's meeting to vote on the album title, but hopes to make it to a reunion gig scheduled for, according to Lamb, "Liberty Lunch at some point." Expect Benavidez to be driving.

The "Way"s of the World

I mentioned awhile back that a steel guitarist had taken a shine to Fastball's "The Way," and sure enough, this week saw the release of Joe Goldmark's All Hat -- No Cattle (not to be confused with the Goldwater song of the same name), featuring the all-twang and no-prattle country instrumental version the Tony Scalzo's "Besame Mucho"-meets-MTV classic. Goldmark, who also covers rock ground with the Byrds' "Eight Miles High" on the disc, manages to prove that the song is workable in the new context, as well as how quickly an idea can go from clever novelty to repetitive irritant. Fastball's Miles Zuniga, meanwhile, blew in to Austin last week, as their tour with the Goo Goo Dolls was postponed when frontman Johnny Rzeznik was diagnosed with a hematoma of the vocal cord (ick!). The two bands have since announced plans for a new leg of tour dates extending to September 1, with Sugar Ray, finished with their Davíd/Orgy stint, joining the bill. Zuniga took the time during his visit to make guest appearances with Superego at the Hole in the Wall's Free for All and the new and improved Esquires' Monday gig at the Crazy Lady.

Mixed Notes

Clean liver Dick Clark probably wouldn't approve of the crowd at the Lady, but he had the Esquires playing a no-cover show last Saturday at his American Bandstand Grill (where the stage and sound system have recently been revamped) and continues the live music fare with Soul Circus this Friday, Capital Retro on Saturday, and Jennifer Cook playing acoustic on Sunday. If you're already feeling nostalgic for the Electric Lounge, take note that Paul Minor got Clark a great deal on that club's silver stage curtains (despite a certain inebriated Damnations member's best attempts to trash them punk rock style on that club's final night), but a manager at the Bandstand Grill says that the drapes ("They were from some club that closed, like Liberty Lunch or something, right?") have yet to make their way into the Grill's decor...

Contrary to popular belief, clubs continue to open in Austin as well. Check this week's Calendar page for an early peek at Spiros, the place I told you about that's next to Emo's and has plans to install marble sidewalks. Next week, I'll clue you in about a new jazz club scheduled to open its doors soon...

If you're looking for a steel player who doesn't play "The Way," look no further than recent Austin import Bill Elm, whose Friends of Dean Martinez make a local appearance at the Continental Club on June 3. Jumping the gun by a couple of weeks, former FoDM percussionist Tommy Larkins can be seen May 14 and 15, at the Lunch and Stubb's, respectively, in his current position as drummer/straight man for Jonathan Richman. Interestingly enough, former Richman sideman Jerry Harrison is already in town producing a Kenny Wayne Shepard album with Double Trouble pulling down the rhythm. Harrison joined Bernie Worrell for blazing, extended jams of "Burning Down the House" at both of Worrell's Antone's gigs last Thursday and Friday. Harrison just played a Talking Heads gig mere days before his trip down thisaway, so could a brief, partial Modern Lovers reunion also be in the cards?...

Release parties are in full swing this week, with Monroe Mustang playing an in-store (free beer!) for The Elephant Sound at Thirty Three Degrees on Friday, 5:30pm, while Sound Exchange beams in Man or Astroman? on Saturday, 3pm, and the Danglers have a release party for Bon Temps Rouler at the Continental Club tonight (Thursday). Thanks for the Mardi Gras beads, guys! Meanwhile, Joe Ely continues to record a new live album with shows at Antone's this Friday and Saturday...

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

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More Dancing About Architecture
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The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."

Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

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