Dancing About Architecture

We Got Trouble -- Right Here in River City

Those poor, innocent, beleaguered River City Rapists just can't get a break. If it isn't their name (which some feel to be in questionable taste) encouraging feminists and other groups to protest their performances and the clubs that let them play, it's their taste in art. With the band only just now emerging from some five months of silence, Junk Records publicist Nancy Farber says that a shipment of the Rapists' brand new album for the label, Love Hurts (see "Texas Platters"), has been returned by distributor RED along with notice that the distributor declines to handle the album further. A spokesman for RED says that the company's reluctance is due to the graphic content of the album's artwork, which includes a fold-out photograph of a woman invoved in a sex act. The actual front cover is arguably more sedate, sporting a somewhat confusing combination of images including a red rose, a quartet of stocking-clad ladies' legs arranged to form a swastika, and a bloody, flaming claw covered with flowing pink hair. To paraphrase Spinal Tap, it's difficult to decide whether it's sexist, sexy, or simply senseless. In any case, Farber says that "it sucks when a distributor thinks they can make the call" on whether or not an album is offensive, especially with the numbers of gangsta rappers and fellow punks who use questionably obscene imagery. RED's reply is, "We're not the moral police here," but that they are very "sensitive" about material that could lead to any sort of liability for the company or the stores it services. The RED rep further points out that Junk has other options in getting the Rapists disc out to the public, and Farber confirms that the label will seek another distributor for Love Hurts. In any case, Junk definitely has no plans to alter the artwork or the album in any way ("We like to offend," explains Farber) and despite previous tongue-in-cheek claims that the band intended to exchange their name for one that would not specifically threaten women ("The River City Racists"), it would appear that these Rapists aren't heading for the shadows any time soon.

As the controversy rages, former Butthole Surfer and current member of the all-star revolving Rapist lineup Jeff Pinkus reports that his band Honky is in the process of losingguitarist Carson Vester, who is "phasing himself out" of the band to concentrate more on his life and businesses in Houston, where Vester has been living for around a year. Vester "will always be an honorary member" of Honky, says Pinkus, "but we have to have a touring band." The replacement in the wings is Gable Barber of the Bulemics (again, see record reviews), and yes, he's also a member of the River City Rapists. The first official show for the new Honky lineup is at the Red Eyed Fly's somewhat belated grand opening on June 11.


Gone Commercial

Last I had heard from MC Overlord, a Capitol Records representative had shown interest in the local bouncer/rapper during South by Southwest '99. With a self-released new album on the way June 25, Overlord (aka Don Robinson) says the Capitol deal never came together, but that Epic is currently taking a listen to his wares. Meanwhile, the title track from House of Funk will be featured soon on a Levi's jeans promotional compilation CD. The Overlord is waiting to find out whether the tune will also be used in ads for the company.

On the other hand, there's Ed Hall, Flying Saucers, and Wookie -- definitely not bands you'd expect to hear doing commercial jingles, right? Wrong. As of yesterday, expect to hear sounds coming from your radio to the contrary. Celis Beer recently sponsored a contest asking for very non-Madison Avenue-type music and film for their new series of "refreshingly Austin" commercials, and the winners include former Flying Saucer Jon Sanchez's band Angel Dust, Wookie offspring Gravitron, new songwriter Jason Hampton, and Stuck On On, former Ed Hall-er/current Ponger Lyman Hardy's home recording act. A Vallejo commercial brings the total number of new radio ads to five, but their spot is part of their sponsorship arrangement with Celis, not a result of the contest. Actually, the contest is responsible in a way, as Celis' Steve Barkate says Vallejo heard Sanchez's track, liked it, and asked if they could get in on the action, too. Hardy explains how he got involved in the competition: "They said to contribute a song and if you won you got money. Well, I won and I got money." Calling his entry "a summertime feel-good song with 'woo's' and 'yeah's,'" Hardy says that the $2,500 he received as a prize after sending in his demo was supposed to be used for recording, but since he has the home studio, he found better uses for the cash.


Mixed Notes

Junior Brown, no stranger to commercials himself, is busy remixing his song "Freedom Machine," adding new guitar parts for a video version of the tune. He'll be working on the project with Eddie Kramer of Woodstock and Jimi Hendrix fame, putting Brown one step closer to his obvious goal of actually becoming Hendrix himself...

Jimmie Vaughan will be inducted into Hollywood's RockWalk next Friday, placing his handprints and signature in cement on the sidewalk gallery along with those of Steve Vai, Larry Carlton, and Joe Satriani. Vaughan also recently performed with the Mavericks during the television taping of the American Latino Media Arts Awards, which airs on ABC June 3. Starting the next day, Vaughan joins Bonnie Raitt on a week of tour dates before teaming with Buddy Guy for another string of gigs beginning on June 17...

That little to-do in Waterloo Park in which Vaughan, Guy, John Lee Hooker, and others participated last weekend -- the 1st Annual Antone's Blues Festival -- drew approximately 7,500 people, according to organizer Charlie Jones, which he says was "within a couple of hundred tickets of what we were planning on months ago." Judy Carter, executive director of the Capitol Area Food Bank, which benefited from the fest, expects a "pleasant surprise" when the totals come in, adding of the event, "We cannot buy that kind of visibility."...

Monte Montgomery is releasing his new CD, Mirror, on June 7. The enhanced CD contains audio and video footage of the guitarist's Austin City Limits performance. Alvarez Guitars has also chosen Montgomery for a series of magazine ads to be seen in just about every magazine that has the word "guitar" in its name...

Threadgill's North is going with a (somewhat) new format for its Wednesday nights supper sessions starting next week, with the "seasonal residency" concept. To make it simple, Rod Moag & Texas a la Moag plays the first Wednesday of each month this summer, the Loy Sisters Band anchor the second Wednesday, Area Code 512 (featuring Stan Alexander, Floyd Domino, and Erik Hokkanen) the third, and Michael Fracasso the last. Not that difficult, was it?...

Look for the Damnations TX on Late Night With Conan O'Brien tonight (Thursday) as they wind down their tour with the Tragically Hip and celebrate the return of regular drummer Conrad Choucroun. Fill-in skinpounder Rey Washam slipped quietly back to town on Monday for a bit of a rest before getting back into action with his regular Ministry gig. That world-renowned industrial outfit has a new album, Dark Side of the Spoon, on the way at last... An unexpected percussion duo turned up onstage at the Trumans Water gig last Thursday at Emo's. The Portland-based band's regular drummer ended up in the hospital with heat exhaustion, so at the last minute, Jason Reese of ...And They Shall Know Us by the Trail of Dead took up the bulk of drum chores, with Butthole Surfer King Coffey doing a (literally) stand-up job alongside him. "It kind of fell apart," says one spectator of the impromptu rhythm team, "but people were good sports about it."... Watchers of local newscasts covering the menace of Star Wars fans lining the streets in recent days were doubtlessly not surprised to see former Gomez kid Chepo Peña waiting in line for early tickets to the highly anticipated prequel, light saber in hand. Much speculation has since been addressed to the question of just how much of the money Peña received from the British band who bought his ex-band's name has gone toward the purchase of Jar Jar Binks "real farting motion" action figures... For those wondering what Gretchen Phillips has been up to since she ran off to New Yawk, the former Two Nice Girls member has become part of the band Dusty Trails, playing "a selection of mellow songs and groovy soundtracks" and will be opening for Cibo Matto on June 11 at the Big Apple's Bowery Ballroom. Dusty Trails is comprised of Phillips, Vivian Trimble (Luscious Jackson, Kostars), Josephine Wiggs (Breeders), and Laura Cromwell (Buffalo Daughter & Cibo Matto)... There's a CD release and benefit for cancer sufferer Cody Hubach at the Hilltop Bar & Grill in Spicewood on Sunday starting at 5 pm. Scheduled performers include Bill Bailey, Champ Hood, Whitey Ray Huitt, Don McCalister, Pat Mears, Mandy Mercier, Shiva's Headband, and many more... From the looks of things, the Little River Band show at Mango's last Sunday would've been just about perfect if just five or six more people showed up -- like the members of Little River Band, perhaps! Our resident soft rock analyst tells us that the show sounded just like the ol' LRB, but that when he compared the names given onstage to those on the First Under the Wire album, he came up with zero matches! To be fair, he thought the bass player might be an original member, but the album doesn't list a bass player, period! The press release referred to them as "survivors," so maybe they were actually all former members of the band Survivor! In a surprisingly honest turn, the press release for Journey and Foreigner gives all the names of the bands' current members up front. For my money, the Journey appearing at San Antonio's Freeman Coliseum July 23 has four members out of five that count as "reasonably original," while the current version of Foreigner that accompanies them gets two (Mick Jones, Lou Gramm) out of four. I couldn't really tell you how many original members will be involved in the Ratt/Poison double bill on June 11 at the Sunken Garden Theatre (also in S.A.) with "special guests" Great White and L.A. Guns, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say I'm pretty positive that the Sammy Hagar playing Sunken Gardens on June 25 is the same one who used to be in Van Halen...

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

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The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."

Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

So Long, Slug
So Long, Slug

Ken Lieck, Dec. 20, 2002

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