Dancing About Architecture

Life and death on the live music club scene; Dale Watson escapes, Huey Meaux doesn't; and more tantalizing tidbits of Terpsichore...

Donnie Knutson & Dale Watson shucking CDs
Donnie Knutson & Dale Watson shucking CDs (Photo By John Carrico)

Atomic Ache

There's always a lot of black clothing inside and outside the Atomic Cafe, but patrons of the Red River live music venue are nonetheless being encouraged to "celebrate the life" of owner Randall Goodwin, who died from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound last Wednesday. Those at the club aren't giving any more details at the Goodwin family's request, but friends say that the club owner had recently been in poor health. "The club is going to stay open," declares Cafe staffer "Doc," adding that Goodwin's last wishes were that the club remain in operation on its current schedule, Tuesdays through Sundays. The club's ownership is officially a corporation involving Goodwin's parents, and though new general manager Kevin Williams sighs, "It's chaos here right now," he confirms that the Atomic Cafe will remain in business with few changes. In addition, he notes, there will be an all-day benefit for Goodwin's family on November 20, featuring a Skrew reunion. This Saturday, you can pretend that the old Blue Flamingo, which once stood across the street from the Atomic Cafe, is back in business. The former owner of that fine punk rock establishment, Miss Laura, is having another birthday, which means another ACLU benefit, this time with the Fuckemos and many others at the Back Room. Miss Laura doesn't go out much these days due to health problems, and doesn't plan to jump back into the club business, but does have some insight as to what's up with the room where the Blue Flamingo/Blue Flame/Purgatory rocked. "There's gonna be a restaurant there soon," says Laura, adding that the landlord has had his fill of all the mess, trouble, and damage he's had with his music venue tenants in recent years. "He doesn't want to deal with another bar there," she states. I don't know. Having seen GG Allin's soiled underwear on display on the wall of the old Cavity, that little club on the corner never seemed all that trashed out to me. Of course, it's a tough business these folks are in -- if the nightlife doesn't take its toll one way, it will in another. "Our girl's gone away for a while," was the diplomatic way Susan Antone's recent trip into rehab was put by those around her. The club's official comment on the matter was a "no comment," but a collective nod toward the busy bar on Tuesday was seen as an indication that the club is doing well. Purveyors of quieter, gentler music continue to fall on hard times as well. Harold McMillan and his Diverse Arts production company have apparently found themselves without a home. Says McMillan, "My Bombay Room experiment is probably not happening any more. The owners of the Clay Pit, which the Bombay was an upstairs extension of, have chosen not to continue with the project," says McMillan. He and his organization are still "searching for a room to produce jazz and world music in." Once upon a time, he might have tried the Bon Temps Room, above Jazz the restaurant, but as of January, Mercury Entertainment's Mark Collins will be booking that space. In fact, he's been putting on some "Mercury Presents" shows there for a couple of weeks (you may have noticed the enormous "For Lease" banner stretched across the Sixth Street club's front), with plans calling for a small spate of shows going down at the Bon Temps room before the official Mercury Presents at Jazz takes over that space. Wonder of wonders, Collins says he isn't being squeezed out of his current space, as has befallen other local downtown businesses. Instead, he's been finding it too hard to squeeze his business into the current Mercury space and needed to expand. Look for bigger bands and lower ticket prices at the new spot (see "Music Listings"). Finally, the latest in the interminable Steamboat saga has doorman David Cotten booking at the Saxon Pub, where he's aggressively looking for acts of all stripes to play the stage that oft supports Ian McLagan's organ. Meanwhile, Danny Crooks is saying that he may lose the name Steamboat after recently losing the building that housed the club. He still owes Craig Hillis $57,000 on the title license, says Crooks, and didn't expect to have to continue making payments while he was without an actual club. Crooks claims that Hillis' repossessing the name would also make him responsible for debts in the five-figure area, so he's not anguishing much over the idea of the loss. Anyway, as he points out, the Crooks name means more to fans of the club than the "Steamboat 1874" sign. In fact, to this writer, it always sounded like a bad theme restaurant. Would you like Captain's wafers with your PigGie in a Blanket, sir?...

Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Dale's

Have the record company wars claimed another victim? Dale Watson's none too sure himself. Of his yet-untitled album project for Sire/Warner Bros, he says, "If it's gonna see the light of day, that's anybody's guess." That album has been floating around all the execs and such, he says, but Watson hasn't heard a peep from anyone in a good long while regarding when it will be released. A large part of the reason is the merger between Sire (home to Austin's three D's -- Don Walser, Derailers, Damnations TX) and London Records, which has left a lot of artists scratching their heads about the future. Naturally, there could be other factors as well. "Maybe they didn't like it," muses Watson. Still and all, the country baritone says he hasn't been dropped by the label, so he's being very, very cautious about how his new People and Places disc is perceived by the public and the label. People and Places, which is coming out on Watson's private label (and on Continental/Rounder in Europe), is not being released, he insists. "It escaped!" is how he puts it. The album isn't indended as "competition" with his album for Sire, as it will only be available for sale at shows and on the Internet. There will be an "escape party" for the album tonight (Thursday) at Ginny's Little Longhorn, where venison sausage will be served! Watson's in town for the release partially because he decided against a European tour (Roger Wallace took his place on the bill) in favor of spending time with his family. Ironically, while waiting for the album to escape, Watson found himself behind bars, playing the part of a prisoner in a Johnny Cash video for "Folsom Prison Blues" from the EMI compilation album Rebels and Outlaws. The clip intersperses vintage footage of Cash performing with the new prison scenes, which were shot in Lee Harvey Oswald's old cell. Did that seem creepy to Watson? No, he says -- at least not until he was told that the building was also where Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby. After realizing he was standing on the spot where history went down, Watson confesses, "There were a lotta weird vibes there." He declined to pose for a photo in the classic "Oswald death stance," but our ace Chronicle photographer happened to catch Watson implementing the marketing plan for his new album.

Mixed Notes

Fortunately for Dale Watson, when the video shoot was over, he was allowed to leave prison. Not so for Huey "Pops" Meaux, whose next crack at parole from Huntsville's correctional facilities doesn't come until September of 2001. Huntsville may be tough, but apparently not cruel; the postmark on a letter we received from Meaux (see "Postmarks") indicates that he got his Chronicle in a timely manner when his name came up in a recent "Dancing" column... This is your final warning! Last-minute deadline for South by Southwest 2000 submissions is at Ruby's Barbecue, 6pm-Midnight, next Tuesday. Bring your demo, bio, and dinero ($20)... Won Santo Condo are looking for a producer following their signing to Kneeling Elephant, the new RCA-affiliated label that's also home to Zen Mafia and the Innocence Mission. Toby Wright, who helmed Korn's latest blockbuster, is scheduled to come check out a local gig, while the band also says they may be doing some work in town with Sublime producer (and, of course, Butthole Surfer) Paul Leary. You can check them out as they open for their friend Ben Harper at the Austin Music Hall on November 20, part of a short leg of his tour the band is joining... Fans of the Meat Puppets can rejoice that their new London Records album (delayed somewhat by the same merger that's stymied Dale Watson) will come out in April. Before then, there'll be a promo EP out in December that you might be able to win in various contests, and of course, the acoustic performance by the band at the Cactus Cafe November 20... The Kiss Offs won't be blowing their farewell buss tonight (Thursday), when they appear with Britt Daniel and the Shindigs at the Hole in the Wall. Guitarist/vocalist Travis Higdon reports that keyboardist/singer Katey Jones has announced that she's moving to Chicago, but not until January. Look for the band's last Austin gig, again at the Hole, on Dec. 10. "We're recording another album before she leaves town," says Higdon, "at least to capture all our newer songs on tape. I'm sure the album will be released next year in some form or another, depending on the status of the band." Since Higdon is also the man behind the band's label. Peek-a-Boo Records, that shouldn't be a problem... Friends of former Reivers frontman and current hot producer John Croslin say they're planning a party for him in early December. That's because soon after that the longtime Austinite will be heading out to seek his fortune in San Francisco. The Chronicle was unable to lure Croslin out of the studio long enough to coax a statement out of him, but those close to the man say they don't think the move away from Austin is permanent. Hey, they never are... Finally, Billy Horton says he's quit the Hot Club of Cowtown but he isn't going anywhere. In fact, he's looking for a new gig, and presumably, the band is looking for a new stand-up bassist... "We ate it, it sucked, and now we're picking up the pieces," sighs Devon Farr, aka Bosco, whose ambitious Hill Country Hoedown, held in Dripping Springs in late September, drew more woes than it did people (about 50 of the latter), leaving him in debt and a lot of unpaid musicians unhappy. Most vocal about his disappointment in the show and Farr's business practices has been Bad Livers/Kelly Willisbooker Davis McLarty, who says that since the Hoedown, he has paid Willis out of his own pocket after receiving repeated promises from Farr and only partial payment. Sighing that he hasn't even been able to listen to records since the musical debacle, Farr says that his plans are to "take care of what we need to take care of, and then dissolve the company, I guess"... You knew the Scabs would have no problem getting a New Year's gig, I'm sure. Still, their end-of-the-millennium fee is probably a mere drop in the bucket to hostess Sandra Bullock, who's reportedly expecting Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman among her guests (wonder if Keanu's gonna come?). I haven't gotten my invitation yet, but to a certain young lady who has (and you know who you are), I'm still free that evening. If you've already got a date, I'll settle for a photocopy of the invite...

-- Conspirators: Raoul Hernandez, 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


Atomic Cafe, Dale Watson, Huey Meaux, Lee Harvey Oswald

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