Dancing About Architecture
Austin City Limits to enter its 25th season two shows lighter; Steamboat loses more relocation prospects; and Ozzy Osbourne declines Black Sabbath's nomination for entry into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The Beat of a Different Drumstick
A disgusted Terry Lickona reports that the last-minute cancellation of Monday's Austin City Limits taping featuring Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt was due to "structural problems." The ACL producer says that in attempting to accommodate Ronstadt, he found that, "Our stage couldn't support a singing Jabba the Hutt, and there wasn't enough room on the set for an ego the size of the Goodyear Blimp!" Though the pair performed a show at the Bass Concert Hall the night before, Lickona says that a mere four days before showtime, Ronstadt decided that she didn't want to do any more TV. "She didn't like the way she looked," he notes about the singer's recent weight gain. "Well, duh!" The 11th hour skip-out was especially troubling for ACL due to the fact that they schedule two-act shoots to save money, though the Bela Fleck taping went on as planned, with Earl Scruggs and Vassar Clements guesting. (Said Lickona before the show: "If a bomb goes off in here, we'll lose the best bluegrass performers who ever lived.") Lickona admits that the pairing gimmick is why Jonathan Richman hasn't yet been rescheduled. "We still haven't given up on Tom Waits," he says hopefully. The Harris/Ronstadt performance was planned to air as the show's 25th season premiere, but things could have been worse; if the shoot had been later in the preseason, the launch of ACL's silver anniversary (feted by a new book, Austin City Limits: 25 Years of American Music) could've been delayed. It helps that Harris has already done her part toward making up for the cancellation, offering to do an "all-star songwriter show" for ACL, featuring her and several guests, and just such a show was what Lickona says he needed to fill a stylistic "hole in this season" for the program. The Chronicle was unable to reach Ronstadt at press time; an Asylum Records representative tells me she fired her manager before this tour began, and it has been nigh-impossible to reach her since then.
Last-minute disappearances of shows are not something exclusive to Austin City Limits, of course. Lately, ads for big touring shows have been less than a guarantee that the artists will actually be playing anytime soon. Whether it's due to the year-end touring schedule (bands like to get in there after school starts and out before it gets too close to Christmas), several shows announced of late never made it to the stage, including Robbie Williams, the Beta Band (their bassist apparently broke his arm), and June Carter Cash, whom manager Lou Robin says went in for what was expected to be minor surgery, but is still convalescing. Congenial Carter is expected to try to make up the date -- sometime after she and hubby Johnny Cash spend their usual winter vacation in Jamaica. Some other cancellations, including Robert Palmer, I hear, came down to crappy advance ticket sales, which isn't too surprising considering the low attendance seen at recent touring gigs in the area. Outside of the Back Room's picking up some packed houses in the wake of Liberty Lunch's exodus, attendance of late at touring gigs has been sparse, as in the case of the surprisingly un-packed crowd for Cheap Trick at La Zona Rosa last week. Oh well. I guess everybody saw them last time, and unlike some recording artists, at least they bothered to show up!
Crooks Family Circus
Danny Crooks now says he's given up the idea of relocating the evicted Steamboat to the Lakehills Theatre, explaining that, "The theatre's too much for me. I can't afford that big-ass thing." This follows Crooks' claim that his planned temporary location, the Spot on Lavaca Street, was snapped up by a concern connected with the people who previously bought the Steamboat out from under him, leaving him running about from building to building like little Billy Keane in a particularly nightmarish Family Circus cartoon. In addition, Crooks' latest hoped-for location, the spot (no pun intended) next to Paradox has proven to be more expensive than Crooks thought; apparently, the building's owner miscalculated the cost to renovate the place, so Crooks is back to square one again as far as finding a building to house his club. In the meantime, support continues to flow from friends and acquaintances, including one who went so far as to run an ad in last week's Chronicle urging people to boycott "any business that opens in Steamboat's old home," as well as set up an e-mail address for those who want further information (firstname.lastname@example.org). "I certainly don't want to get involved in any violent overthrow," says the ad's creator, Ray Richter, who particularly misses his regular visits to the club with his oldest daughter. "I'm just hoping people won't forget Steamboat [before it can be relocated]. I want to keep it in the public eye."
Ozzy Bites Back
Ozzy Osbourne recently took time out from mouthfuls of bat head to decline Black Sabbath's nomination for entry into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, advising voters to "Take our name off the list. Save the ink. Forget about us. The nomination is meaningless because it's not voted on by fans. It's voted on by the supposed elite of the industry and the media, who've never bought an album or concert ticket in their lives, so their vote is totally irrelevant to me." Needless to say, the Chronicle music staff, who voted as a team on the nominations and put Sabbath at the head of our list, were flabbergasted by Osbourne's comments. In our collective youths, we've probably paid for the whole Sabbath collection twice over, and besides that, the major reason that BS topped our list was because we felt Sabbath was a band of the people and deserved to be represented in the Hall of Fame. It's the band's choice, however, though they've already received backlash from voters like Robert Hull, executive producer of Time Life Music in Alexandria, Virgina, who said Osbourne is "full of shit" and that his band the Memphis Goons will never again cover Black Sabbath, and esteemed rock crit Dave Marsh, who declared that "a holy fool is still a fool" (though it sounds as though he may have been confusing Ozzy with later Sabbath belter Ronnie James Dio). In any case, we're all hoping Sabbath's record company sends us all free box sets to console our deeply hurt feelings. And concert tickets.
The situation isn't as rosy as some reports would have you believe, but Evan Johns is still quite alive, says friend Ivan Brown, who just returned from a trip to Vancouver to visit the ailing Johns. Brown says he "saw improvement every day I was there" and that Johns is "hanging in there," but he's still far from out of the woods... Ian Moore has finished mixing his new album for Punch Entertainment (a division of Koch) and is back in town, though he's only got a couple of area gigs on his slate for the moment. Expect the disc out in February; in the meantime, the guitarist is busy dealing with his new son, who has been given the ego-swelling name Max Moore... Cheap Trick's Robin Zander and several friends followed band hawker Paul Minor over to Minor's new booking gig, the Texas Music Saloon, after the Trick's gig Tuesday at La Zona Rosa. "He was signing autographs at the backstage door," says Minor. "I told him, 'There's a six-piece blues band playing on the patio two blocks up,' and he said, 'Let's go.'" Fellow Trickster Rick Nielsen, meanwhile, was spotted at Casino El Camino autographing menus and complimenting the club on their jukebox selections... Dan Carney continues to cement his reputation as scariest (but harmless) music fan, this time at Saturday's Damned show at the Back Room. After guitarist Captain Sensible blew a large bubble and spat his gum into the crowd during the band's set, Carney corralled him in the parking lot (where another fan asked Sensible to autograph a car and ended up with various obscenities scrawled across his upholstery) and grinned a gum-fulled grin, announcing to the Captain, "I've got your gum!" "That's great," replied Sensible without missing a beat. "I've got herpes." At least Carney didn't manage to get ahold of the banana Sensible had been sliding down his ass crack onstage. Yecch!... Hits magazine chose Ginger Mackenzie's Monday show at the Mint in L.A. as one of their five "Buzz Gigs" for last week, based on her performance on the Hot Adult radio chart and "over 3,500 downloads a day at MP3.com." Mackenzie's publicists are quick to point out that Internet interest in the artist has actually risen to some 5,000 "hits" a day, thanks partially to Artist Spotlight and Song of the Day placements, and that the buzzed gig indeed drew a large number of label, publishing, and Internet bigwigs... What's Freddy Fender doing in his post-Texas Tornados career? Hitting the bars, it seems. Actually, Fender has been "dry" for 14 years, but he's currently heading for Mobile, Alabama, to play a singing bartender in a film tentatively titled Mi Amigo. The movie is being produced by Milton Brown, best known as the guy who wrote "Any Which Way but Loose"... Yeah, it's cool that the Fiesta Texas folks in San Antonio have an Alice Cooper-themed Halloween haunted house called Brutal Planet, but it's cooler that the Coop himself will be there this Saturday performing live. That's when I'm going, but if you miss the show, the park still promises plenty of "live beheadings performed daily" continuing weekends through October 31...
-- Contribulations: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser