Dancing About Architecture


The much-touted "Gloriathon" at Liberty Lunch, wherein Van Morrison's classic rock tune "Gloria" was played by the Brooders and a few dozen of their friends for a total of 24 hours starting at 9pm Friday, ended in tragedy when hot, exhausted, and rowdy fans began setting fires around the stage and destroying equipment. A Mercedes was torched in the process and ... Oh, sorry, that was Woodstock. No, there was no danger from the fatigued crowd of mostly thirty- and fortysomethings (some were calling the whole thing a "Beach reunion") doing much damage to the beloved Lunch, although one outsider/drummer was caught urinating on the stage curtains and asked to leave the stage. ("Eughh!" said owner J'net Ward on Tuesday when apprised of the situation. "I just took down those curtains!") Instead, the whole to-do has already begun its ascension into local legend status, with a million stories being circulated. Of course there's the amazing tale of how Morrison himself phoned in his part of the performance, via what organizer Michael Hall calls "a bizarre pre-war phone machine precariously connected to the sound board," from a stage in Scotland in front of an enormous festival crowd. There were stellar performances from countless local stalwarts, like Gretchen Phillips, whose early appearance instantaneously answered the question of who was going to invoke the Patti Smith version of the song first (U2's take and the traditional hymn also found their way into the mix, while thankfully no one dared perform the Laura Branigan song of the same name). Soul Hat's Kevin McKinney seemed to know just when to appear, entering the club several times just as one instrument or another was in danger of running out of capable players. In addition, Hall counts him among several key musicians who managed to "change the energy subtly" and keep the song from seeming, well, endless. Hole in the Wall bartender Jeff Smith deserves accolades for his raucous stint as frontman in the dawn hours Saturday, during which Ward had to personally retrieve a microphone he had placed down his pants and sing into to assure others it was "safe" ("It didn't touch my penis," proclaimed Smith loudly). Smith wasn't quite as "safe" Sunday night at the Hole, when Superego had the nerve to start playing "Gloria" right at 2am and not let him reprise his performance, and that's when the real riot almost ensued as he had to be physically carried off the stage by the bouncer and forced to return to his closing time duties at the bar. I myself brought guest Robyn Hitchcock along, via a tape recording (I had done a phone interview with him that afternoon) played at 5am in which the former Soft Boy announced, "You are eight hours into the Gloriathon. You have 16 to go. Thank you." And who could ever forget Beaver Nelson reading about bleeding rectums from a pamphlet on irritable bowel syndrome? On the human interest side, there's the guy who left the stage drunk and exhausted, discovered his car was missing, went to the police, filled out reams of paperwork, returned to the Lunch to play awhile longer, and exited out the back to find his vehicle right where he had left it in the first place. Then there was the nonperforming patron, known to the participants as "vodka man," who took time out from cheering on the band to exit the club, get arrested for public intoxication, spend several hours in jail, and return before the song was over. The whole thing, of course, came to a conclusion at 9pm Saturday, exactly 24 hours after it began, with only a few unsatisfied latecomers not making it in due to the cover going up to $16 at 8pm for the Joe Ely show to come. Those who did show for Ely found themselves up very late, as there were still sets by the Brooders, Doctors Mob, and Davíd Garza to go, resulting in Mr. Live at Liberty Lunch not taking the stage until 2am. Rumors of a Flatlanders reunion proved false (though an appearance by Butch Hancock soothed the ache a bit), and despite anguished cries of "Where's David Grissom?" Ely kept his fans going until nearly 4am behind closed doors that announced "private party." Still, it was "Gloria" who was the star of the day, and already Hall looks back on the event with fondness and pride. He says he never heard back from the Guinness world record people, but he's "pretty confident no one has ever played 'Gloria' longer than we have." And no, he adds, there are no plans to ever do this again. "That's what he thinks," snorts Ward, who says she's committed to another 24-hour songfest during the opening week of the new Liberty Lunch, hopefully scheduled for the first week of March 2000. Whether that extravaganza will bring together the local live music scene like this one remains to be seen; in attendance at the Gloriathon were the Continental Club's Steve Wertheimer, Stubb's Charles Attal, the Hole's Debbie Rombach, and Griff Luneberg from the Cactus Cafe. Clifford Antone was heard that night to say he needn't attend because he "did that shit in the Sixties." (I'm not exactly certain what that means, but anything Antone says he did in the Sixties, you can bet he did in the Sixties). Eric "Emo" Hartman and Direct Events' Tim O'Connor, meanwhile, asked bemusedly whether anyone remembered their clubs, both of them wishing the folks at the Lunch a fond farewell. Actually, the two veterans of Austin's live music scene had their agendas, with Hartman confirming that he's booked the Melvins and Hovercraft for the upcoming Emo's anniversary (August 19), and O'Connor saying he's got his own plans to get back into the construction business with designs to expand both the Backyard and La Zona Rosa. O'Connor revealed that Direct Events has purchased the property behind the Backyard stage with the intention of greatly expanding the venue in that direction -- a whole other amphitheatre basically. The situation is similar at La Zona Rosa, which O'Connor says has always been a "work in progress," so he's purchased the empty lot behind the club, and a bigger, better La Zona Rosa is said to be in the works.

D-D-D-Dessau, Folks!

Amidst all the fanfare over the end of the original Liberty Lunch, a younger, farther-out club quietly bit the dust this week. As of Thursday, Dessau Music Hall in North Austin was history, replaced immediately with the new Club 2000, which was already up and running that very night. Dessau general manager Duke Correo says he was shocked and saddened by the news from the club's owners that the venue, which had never been a big money-maker, was kaput. "It just jumped on me all of a sudden," he explains. "I heard about it one morning and that was it" for the two-and-a-half-year-old club. Correo says he's not sure about when or how he'll return to the club business, saying that he's taking advantage of the time off and "grieving for my baby." Club 2000's new general manager, Willie Cisneros, must feel for Correo, as he clearly has already developed deep feelings for his new baby as well. While he refuses to pigeonhole Club 2000 into any particular musical category, emphasizing that plans call for salsa, merengue, pop, rock, blues, and other types of bands to appear there, the key to the venue would appear to be Tejano music. "The club scene has always targeted Tejano on off nights, like Wednesday or Sunday," he notes, "but we feel this is a market nobody has focused on for the weekend." Cisneros also notes the large Hispanic population in North Austin and the fact that until now, they (or any Tejano fan) would normally have to drive to San Antonio to have a Tejano party weekend. Club 2000's efforts to change that include David Lee Garza this Friday, Gary Hobbs on Saturday, and Grupo Refleccion on Sunday. Of the failed Dessau, Cisneros observes that with so many venues in town, it's hard for a club so far from the central entertainment district to compete unless they offer something that can't be found closer to the heart of Austin. Correo, however, still thinks the Dessau could've made it if given a little more time, saying he believes the people of North Austin know that cultural entertainment exists "beyond a trip to Blockbuster and a TV dinner -- they were ready for something [Dessau] -- just slow to recognize their options."

The Rest of the Story

My, my, but a lot of stories covered here in the last couple of weeks have since taken interesting turns! For instance, remember how I reported that the Ugly Americans might be thinking of suing former Menudo member Ricky Martin over alleged similarities between his song "Shake Your Bon Bon" and their earlier hit "Boom Boom Baby"? The band declined to discuss the matter in order to keep themselves free from possible libel charges, you recall, but it turns out that the band Soul Coughing have a similar problem and are (slightly) less afraid to talk about it. The following passage is from their official Web site: "Ricky's got a track on his new album called 'Shake Your Bon Bon.' Listen to that track. Now, it would be wrong of me to suggest that there's any connection between 'Shake Your Bon Bon' and [Soul Coughing's] 'Super Bon Bon.' Wrong, and libelous. No matter how tempting it is, I wouldn't ever suggest that. But have a listen and reach your own bizarre conclusion." I also got a call recently from an MTV reporter who is aggressively following the Uglies vs. Martin story, so don't expect it to end here. Meanwhile, Soul Coughing will be playing in town this Sunday at Stubb's (see "Music Listings"), so perhaps afterward they'll meet over at Bob Schneider's house to discuss their legal strategies. And while we're on the Web, Little Joe's site confirms the story broken here previously: "Little Joe has agreed to join the Texas Tornados. He will be replacing Freddy Fender who is doing very well in the Vegas circuit." Hey, Freddy, say hi to Siegfried and Roy for me!

Also, if you read last week's "Dancing," you saw that a New York couple was auctioning off Willie Nelson's old tour bus on the Internet auction site eBay, in hopes of netting around $400,000 for the behemoth. The sellers said they had purchased the 1983 "Honeysuckle Rose #1" at a police seized vehicle auction. According to The Dallas Morning News (and reporter Andy Langer), further research on how it got there reveals a far more interesting tale; it turns out the bus was snagged by the fuzz in 1996 after being found abandoned in Manhattan and that a subsequent search found over 200 kilos of cocaine on board! Somehow this didn't make the news at the time, while Nelson dozing off in a car with a joint not long afterward hit all the wire services. Jokes aside, nothing suggests that there's any connection between Nelson and the cocaine. The coach service Nelson leases from says the red-headed stranger had moved into his third Honeysuckle Rose in 1996 and that the impounded bus may have changed ownership several times by that point, while Nelson's longtime tour manager, David Anderson, calls the vehicle sale a "fraud," claiming that other than the rear portion (including a large mural of Nelson), the rest of the bus is not the original Honeysuckle Rose. The current owners counter (are you still following this?) that Nelson's people told them that the front half of the bus had been reconstructed after a 1988 accident, but other than that, only the seats and the floorboards are different from when it was Willie's bus -- and the only reason those were replaced was because the police had to remove them to uncover the enormous stash of drugs that was concealed beneath. The bus remains available, the owners saying they recently turned down a $150,000 offer from a collector.

Finally, bonus points to any eagle-eyed readers who noticed that the note at the conclusion of last week's column contained not the names of the contributing reporters who aided me in "Dancing About Architecture," but instead the titles of several obscure Budgie songs. We apologize for any inconvenience this error may have caused.

Mixed Notes

Gibby Haynes says that when the Butthole Surfers' next album "eventually" comes out, they will officially be labelmates with Austin hitmakers Fastball. Yes, the Butts are going Hollywood (the label, not the metropolis), and Haynes says that he for one is looking forward to getting back to the business of touring, but since it will still be some time before that happens, you might want to catch him at the next Texas Electronica Festival in September. To add to the parallels between the Butts and the 'balls, Fastball's Miles Zuniga, like Haynes before him, will soon be appearing as a guest on the late-night talk show Politically Incorrect, having just confirmed an air date of August 12. ...

The September SPIN features that magazine's list of "The 90 Greatest Albums of the 90s," which almost completely excluded Texas acts. Clocking in highest for the Lone Star state, at #61, is (you guessed it) Lucinda Williams with Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, while Steve Earle clocked in at #75 with I Feel Alright...

One note about "The Bridge," the free event wherein 100 Austin women sing and dance on the Congress Street Bridge on Saturday at 7:30pm to the music of the Walter Thompson Orchestra; when these people say the women's ages range "from 9-90" they aren't yanking your chain. Special rehearsal sessions have been running at local nursing homes (see picture) for that section of the performance and that alone is enough to get a recommendation in this column. Only in Austin does one get the chance to see a passel of nonagenarians attempting to boogie before an audience under the Texas sun in July...

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

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More Dancing About Architecture
Dancing About Architecture
Dancing About Architecture
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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