Dancing About Architecture

Austin Jazz & Arts Festival doesn't need saving after all; the strange sounds coming from Austin's backyards; barbecue to replace Austin Blues; Honky attacked by lesbians in Chicago!; and more news from the Live Music Capital of the World.

Harold McMillan
Harold McMillan (Photo By John Carrico)

Bring Your Checkbook

"Save the Austin Jazz Festival" shrieked a fax from the DiverseArts Production Group that appeared at the Chronicle a few weeks back, prompting concerns that the always strapped-for-cash local Jazz & Arts Festival, beginning on Monday, was festooned with last-minute problems. The Fest was in "dire financial straits," read the missive, adding that a "massive fund drive" was on in an attempt to rescue the sputtering expo from its final doom. Before I even had time to run out and buy a funeral wreath, however, a second fax followed, apologizing for the first, and announcing that, in fact, things actually looked good for the Fest. "We're on, we're set, we're ready to put on a good show," assures organizer Harold McMillan, who recently opened the Bombay Room above the Clay Pit restaurant (1601 Guadalupe) as a home for the more intimate performances of the Fest and for jazz in Austin in general. As far as the Fest, the Bombay Room hosts a jazz vocalist jam session on Monday featuring Hope Morgan, the United States Air Force Jazz Band on Tuesday (no cover), the Irvin Mayfield Quartet featuring Jason Marsalis on Wednesday, the Austin Avant Showcase on Thursday, saxophonist/percussionist Oliver Lake on Friday, and Stefon Harris on Saturday [see "Music Listings"]. It's the outdoor shows at Waterloo Park that draw the bigger crowds, though, and those shows are next Friday, September 17, at 2pm, and Saturday, September 18, at 4pm, with local jazz, gospel, spoken word, and dance filling the day and part of the night (with teaser sets from Lake and Harris scheduled for 5:30pm on Friday and Saturday, respectively). Waterloo Park is where McMillan hopes to rally Austin's jazz fans together, he says, with the idea of maintaining a cohesive presence of listeners willing to financially support the Fest into the future with a Friends of the Jazz Fest group, which is where his fundraising efforts will be focused. "After 11 years," he says, "it's gotten to the point where I can't have this work be as much of a personal risk to me and my little company." For those who can't wait, the last pre-Fest preview at the Bombay Room is tonight (Thursday) with the Oliver Rajamani Band performing following 8:30 drinks and conversation toward forming the Friends of the Fest. There's no cover for the night's entertainment, but I'm sure McMillan would be the first to say that's no reason not to bring your checkbook.

Strange Sounds in the Backyard

Direct Events' Tim O'Connor has no comment on the tales circulating that new sound ordinances in Bee Cave threaten the livelihood of the Backyard, because, he says, they don't. New ordinances are indeed going into effect, but their effect on the venue, it appears, will be negligible. Mind you, things are already restrictive enough in Bee Cave, with the Backyard having to shut down its music by 11pm or face fines, so let's hope for the sake of the soon-to-expand amphitheatre that they don't get worse. O'Connor says that a Bruce Springsteen show he had in negotiation for the 'yard has "gone away," but just imagine trying to get the E Street Band to shut down at 11pm, halfway into one of their trademark three-and-a-half-hour sets. (See this week's "Off the Desk" in Politics for more on the Bee Cave buzz.) Meanwhile, the Red Eyed Fly put its back yard to the test this weekend with three shows on its new outdoor stage, as part of what co-owner John Meyer calls the club's effort to "earn our place as a real 'go-for-it' live music venue." Luckily, what the club didn't earn was troubles from the police and the neighbors, with the cops checking the decibel levels and giving the Fly the okay. Stubbs' Charles Attal, who's got his hands full with that venue's own expansion to house the new Liberty Lunch breaking ground next month, says he was worried when he heard about the Red Eyed Fly's outdoor undertaking, "but I was worried for them, not us -- we have a very big amplifier." The Peenbeets were, in fact, in danger of being blasted out by Stubb's Vallejo show on Saturday night, but a new amp is on the way for the Fly in order to avoid a repeat of that problem; luckily, 7% Solution played the night before, as their more delicate moments were threatened by mere police sirens on the nearby streets. The Fly's plans are to continue utilizing the outdoor stage for their higher-drawing shows, the next of which will be Sixteen Deluxe and Solid Gold 40 in a couple weeks. The visuals-happy 7% folks took advantage of the situation during Friday's show to set up a sheet and a video projector to create a show mixing moody music with computer imagery, and soon the venue will be purchasing and setting up a permanent projector for the outdoor shows as well as starting a weekly series of movie showings on the patio. That's a while off still, but plans definitely call for the movie Frankenstein to accompany Hallowe'en sets by SINIS and Pocket FishRmen. I don't know; with those bands it may be more appropriate to show Up in Smoke.

In Search of a New Continent

"We're down there looking, but we don't have anything definite yet," Continental Club booker Pete Gordon reluctantly confirms in response to rumors that a new version of the South Congress live music venue is planned for Houston. Asked whether he's slated to move to the Sinking City to manage the new venue, Gordon stutters a bit and repeats his previous statement. That's fine, since these days, it's enough to hear that an Austin live music club is doing well enough that expansion is even a possibility. Things are looking mighty good in the upcoming weeks for Austin's Continental, with even Sunday afternoons packed with music (on the first Sunday each month, at least, when Santiago Jimenez provides his regular 3-6pm Conjunto Party), and upcoming roadshows ranging from Big Sandy & his Fly-Rite Boys (9/30) to Siberia's Red Elvises (10/16) and Wanda Jackson (10/22-23). And then there's the four-night stand by Jonathan Richman September 20-23. Gordon says the acts who would normally play on those nights will play before Richman each evening, answering the sticky question of how to handle booking openers for the eccentric singer; just ask Tall, Dark & Lonesome, for instance, about the trauma of opening for the finicky Richman. "J'net [Ward from Liberty Lunch] told me a few stories that were darn interesting," says Gordon, referring to the singer's recent shows at the Lunch and Stubb's. "She says she's looking forward to coming down and watching how we handle it!"

I'll Have the #34!

The folks at Earl Campbell's new barbecue restaurant are busting their buns getting the place ready for its September 27 opening on Sixth Street -- at the location vacated suddenly by Austin Blues. Manager Jason Brimberry confirms that the establishment will indeed feature live music, though he's still at a loss as to exactly what kind. "We'll have some blues in here, mostly local acts," he muses between exhausted yawns, realizing as he speaks that he probably needs to start booking acts pretty soon for the first of the regular Thursday-Saturday slots the club plans to feature. "What we don't want," he finally decides, "is very loud rock & roll where you can't hear yourself." Given those parameters, I'm sure some local bands will be glad to do the job for the club. And no, Campbell himself won't be taking a hand in the musical selection, though he's often seen at Antone's, and rumor has it that certain acts at Emo's are exciting enough to make him lose control of his sausage.

Honky Attacked by Lesbians in Chicago

If there's anyone who could pass up opening an e-mail with the above title, I have yet to meet them. And that's exactly the statement that headed a missive my computer brought to me over the weekend, concerning an incident that happened to local Southern-fried trio Honky last Saturday night in Chicago during their current tour with L7. During an all-ages show at a converted bowling alley called Fireside Bowl, explains the group's drummer Lance Farley, were "several young women (a few topless) obviously supporting the lesbian community." Unfortunately, the group should have also been supporting the School for the Deaf, as a Honky song about stinky feet called "Badfoot," with the chorus, "Hey now Badfoot, don't put that thing near me," apparently being interpreted by the braless battalion as, "Hey faggot, don't put your dick in me." (Hey, these mistakes happen -- check "Postmarks" to see how we similarly mangled a Solid Gold 40 number in last week's "Live Shots.") As a result, says Farley, "they started to get onstage, stealing microphones, pelting us with everything from a hand sanitizer to bloody tampons. We kept going somehow, even though there was no security." With the aid of a few helpful fans and Dee Plakas from L7, the Honky clan made it out alive. It's just a shame they were forced to leave without any, er, souvenirs of the experience.

Mixed Notes

After the previous Sunday night's four-song video extravaganza featuring the songs of Pushmonkey, WWF Sunday Night Heat again featured their song "Lefty" last Sunday night, but that's not the last you'll hear of that tune on the tube. MTV will spin "Lefty" as bumper music during the course of tonight's (Thursday) MTV Music Video Awards -- and if there's been a more loudly touted event since The Phantom Menace, I must've been off-planet that month. As PM continues touring, look for them to drop into town this Friday for KLBJ's Shore Thang with the Toadies and Great White... Teddy Morgan has signed to HighTone Records, with his debut for the Oakland-based indie scheduled for a November 2 release. Lost Love and Highways features a duet with Lazy Lester and is Morgan's first new release since his 1996 Louisiana Rain on the Antone's label... It's all in how you market yourself. The long-dead Christie Love Experience have managed to consistently top one of the MP3 charts with tracks off their recently released album of five-year-old material by placing the tracks in the low-competition "Mope Rock" category. Then there's Lucinda Williams, who appears on the new album by a band that's definitely found (or created) their niche: Leftover Salmon, who play Stubb's September 17-18, and have crowned themselves "America's premier poly-ethnic Cajun slam-grass band." Williams' own strategy seems to be "appear everywhere," as she's also on Cindy Bullens' new one, as well as the new duets album from John Prine... The Big Apple seems to be the hot destination for too-hot Austinites these days. Jonathan Tobin, formerly of Noodle and the Hamicks, played the Red Eyed Fly last Sunday with his current band of Austin expatriates, Vandura, and says he's hearing about Austin musicians appearing in New York at the rate of close to one a week. And, yes, many of them are forming bands upon settling in up north. In addition, Tobin says that notorious puking drummer Bryan Bowden (with whom Tobin played in NY band Grand Mal) is currently in an outfit called Heroin Sheik, and that Tim Stegall continues threatening to form a new Hormones, but so far has yet to grace the stage in the city that never sleeps... For those fretting about their favorite Trance Syndicate bands finding new homes, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead have a new CD coming out on Merge Records, the label owned by Superchunk that's also home to Lambchop and the Rock-A-Teens. One potential problem: The album is called Madonna, and though the advance CD I got doesn't include the cover artwork, I can only hope they're not using Negativland's U2 debacle as their model for getting attention... Students may not be good to Eddie Wilson, but for just about everyone else in the club biz they provided a much-needed business boost this weekend. It looked like everyone in town (with the notable exception of Carole Keeton Rylander) showed up at Antone's for the Ugly Americans reunion, though oddly enough the crowd bore little resemblance to the usual Scabs regulars. (As one observer put it, "Most Scabs fans aren't smart enough to know they had another band") The same night, the Blondie Hoot Night packed the Hole in the Wall and brought in double the income of any SIMS benefit previously held there. A line extending past the alley formed before 11pm, and the only disappointment of the evening was a lack of contestants for the Debbie Harry lookalike contest. I'm told that only Bill Jeffery, the Wannabes' Kevin Carney, and a Hole waitress vied for the prize, which Jeffery won. This is particularly terrifying given that during the time I was there that night he was dressed as a leprechaun...

-- 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


harold mccillan, austin jazz & arts festival, direct events, backyard, stubb's, red eyed fly, continental club, earl campbell, honky, l7

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