Dancing About Architecture
The clubs just keep closing (or being raided by comptrollers), but at least we still have television.
Raid Kills "Ant"s Dead
It's become a tradition at this point: every week Dancing About Architecture begins with an item about a long-revered Austin live music venue being closed. No, I'm not talking about Steamboat getting the boot from their Sixth Street digs to make way for a theme bar, or even subsequent plans for that club's owner Danny Crooks to move into the building that currently houses the Spot, though now that's been delayed until at least the first of October. No, this week, for the first "new format" edition of the column, the shutdown in question is only a temporary -- albeit ugly -- one. As you probably already know, last Friday saw Carole Keeton Rylander, the infamous murderer of the beloved Armadillo World Headquarters, desperately attempting to hog the spotlight once again by inviting the mainstream press to accompany her and her comptroller's office goons on a raid of Antone's nightclub in search of unpaid taxes. In pursuit of said delinquent fees, Rylander temporarily threw several hundred club patrons out onto the busy downtown streets (shouldn't the fire marshal have issued her a citation for that?), plastering the club's doors with seizure notices before closing it down while the Antone's staff hurriedly handed out Mickey Mouse-stamped receipts in order to keep angry music fans from getting really mad. Now, anyone who's ever dealt with the IRS can tell you this is the risk you run when you don't pay your taxes according to government schedule -- Susan Antone freely admits the club was "at fault" for missing payment deadlines -- but high-profile, media-alerted raids, as opposed to a letter or phone call, are usually pretty obvious instances of politicking. "Everybody, even the business community, is talking about what a transparent scheme it was," laughs regular Antone's performer Bruce Hughes of the Scabs, who adds that at least the shutdown resulted in lots of publicity for local guitar hero Monte Montgomery, who was onstage in front of a packed house at the time of the raid (he completed his set after the club re-opened an hour or so later) and who, between this incident and a recent CD release at the Saxon Pub which drew a visit by the fire marshal, has to be rethinking his career. For his part, Clifford Antone says he didn't need that kind of publicity, calling it "humiliating" and adding that he has enough problems as it is (see "Naked City" in Politics for more). Next week: Agents of George W. Bush seize the Hole in the Wall after the club ignores the Presidential hopeful's suggestion for a Lee Atwater Hoot night.
Well, after all the local clubs close down, we'll at least have television, in front of which we can sit on our ever-widening asses watching the same bands we'd rather be seeing live. Of course there's the Austin Music Network, who are rapidly approaching their 500th live band celebration and thus happy that they're budget will carry them through the end of the year (the Austin Music Commission has already recommended the City support the network with $400,000 next year). And AMN aren't the only one lighting up the tube. Jake Andrews, for instance, has taped three songs for the daytime drama The Young and the Restless and will be seen performing parts of them on the program on September 29. Also on the tube, last Sunday, Pushmonkey got to beat on the ears of wrestling fans during WWF Sunday Night Heat with a quartet of tunes from the band's self-titled Arista Records debut album. The numbers accompanied several wrestling-music video segments, which the show uses as a regular feature to recap a major match, or tell the history of a wrestler or a particular rivalry or storyline. Also, I hear that ABC has already used the Butthole Surfers' version of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City," off the new MOM 3: Music for Our Mother Ocean save-the-sharks benefit album, as an accompaniment to the day's sports scores on one of their news programs. (Now the question is how many people will buy an album that features the Butts alongside James Taylor and Jimmy Buffett.) Plus, take note that during his appearance in Robert Earl Keen's Texas Uprising gig this Saturday at the Backyard, Charlie Robison will be shooting footage for a video of his next single, "Hometown," due for release to country radio on October 11. As for the big screen, look for the Fuckemos' Russell Porter, PigPoke's Jerry Don Clark, and other loud, ugly people in the theatrical world premiere of Rock Opera at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema this Friday. There's plenty more in this issue about the film -- it's our cover story, after all -- but in a nutshell, it's the saga of bands who can't get gigs and recreational drug use gone bad. Proceeds from this weekend's local premiere, which features an introduction from Richard Linklater and live musical accompaniment by the Pocket FishRmen (7pm screening) and Voltage (the 9:30pm showing), go toward a 35mm blowup of the film to send around the indie film circuit. There'll also be an after party at Ruta Maya Coffee House, with the film's co-star Chad Holt (who I could've sworn was Doctors' Mob bassist Jimmy Dolousio until I saw the closing credits) hosting and the musical stylings of the Fuckemos. Bands who missed the boat on Rock Opera are encouraged to jump on the Austin film bandwagon now by contacting the producers of Killer Piñatas, who are soliciting local music recordings for use in their film. Write to: Raul and Boogie's Studio c/o Steve Smith, 5313 Woodrow Ave., Austin, TX, 78756-2106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the clubs continue to face opposition from all fronts, other venues continue to thrive in Austin, some perhaps because they cater to people who go to bed at decent hours and offer music that's nonthreatening. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, which is why it's good to see that Central Market's live music schedule continues to expand. Thanks in large part to the efforts of former Emo's doorman "Lonesome" Dave Fisher, who currently books shows and runs sound for the upscale HEB spinoff, the Central Park (or "North") CM at 40th and Lamar now features live music Fridays-Sunday starting at 6:30pm, while also playing host on Wednesdays to KGSR's Blues on the Green series (see "Live Shots"). At the conclusion of that series, which brings in approximately 1,500 people per week, Fisher assures me that there are plans for music to either continue on Wednesdays or move to Thursdays, only with full bands. "It's pretty much at my discretion who to pick," Fisher says, perhaps countering my earlier comment about the music being all that nonthreatening. As far as the Westgate (or "South") CM, detractors of the tiny stage area there can rest assured that "not too distant plans" call for expansion of the music-enjoyment area, says Fisher. According to him, management had a wait-and-see attitude regarding whether the music would actually bring in customers, and were surprised to find the concerts made more of a positive influence on business than they thought. Who says fans of late nights and live music are vegetables?
Shopping For Music
Mixed NotesThe Ugly Americans, inspired by the return of former guitarist Max Evans, have a reunion of the band's original lineup scheduled for this Saturday at Antone's, with a set of pre-"Boom Boom Baby" material ready to go. As far as that song in particular, the band still hesitates to speak of any legal action against Ricky Martin for his alleged plagiarism of the song on a track from his current megahit album, but word is that a professional musicologist has told the Uglys they have an excellent case. What they don't have, allows one of the band members, is the "huge guns, big record company, and large bank account" that their opponent in such a lawsuit would... Speaking of reunions, just how many bands can Dangerous Toysman Jason McMasters front? The reunited Toys are confirmed as openers for Alice Cooper at the Bronco Bowl in Dallas, October 15, and possibly the Coop's gig at Fiesta Texas in San Antonio the next day. Also, McMasters' KISS mirror act SSIK open for KISS offspring ESP (Eric Singer, Bruce Kulick, John Corabi) at an upcoming KISS expo (try saying that five times fast). His new AC/DC-styled Broken Teeth just put out an album as well, and now, in addition to all that, there's GlamourPuss, an Iggy Pop-styled glam outfit in which McMasters is joined by Shawn Sahm (Hip by Association), Chris Bailey (ex- Bodysnatchers), Kory Cook, and Phillip Plyler (both Sons of Hercules)... Saturday night at the Hole in the Wall there's a Blondie Hoot Night benefiting the SIMS foundation (see "Music Listings"), featuring the Shindigs, Wannabes, Dismukes, Media Kreeps, Stinky Del Negro, Bill Jeffery's new band Leprechaun, and many more special guests, including one of those Fastball guys. Posters signed by Blondie band members will be raffled off, though it looks like said New Wave punks won't be making a personal appearance. Then again, Debbie Harry's Close Personal Friend Robbie Jacks is also on the bill, so who can say for sure? Other upcoming Hoot Nights at the Hole (suddenly the phenomenon is back with a vengeance!) include the Superego hosting a Kinks hoot on the 19th, and a two-day all-Canadian-artist Hoot (from Neil Young to Celine Dion) on the 24th and 25th... Quote of the Week: From the special "Blame Them ... They Said It" section of the latest issue of Hits magazine comes this gem from Davíd Garza: "[W]hat disheartens me about the Internet [is that] it leaves no time for boredom, and boredom is what stirs the imagination." So folks, next time you paint your house and need someone to watch it dry, give ol' Davíd a call. He can always use a little inspiration!
-- Contributors: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser