Dancing About Architecture
Final fareweall to the Texas Tornado; Frank Kozik Sells Out?; Sixteen Deluxe and Meat Purveyors shake up, but don't break up.
Two Sure Things: Death and Texas
An irreplaceable component of what was and is Texas music was lost last week with the death of Doug Sahm, but the attendance at his funeral and other gatherings in his honor have shown and continue to display the fact that neither his music nor his memory will ever die. I attended the funeral last Tuesday afternoon in San Antonio, one of a sizable contingent of locals who made the trip (Charlie Sexton, Jimmie Vaughan, Joe Ely, Marcia Ball, Paul Ray, Joe "King" Carrasco, and on and on and on), as well as one of many who couldn't make it into the audience at Sahm's final gig; like many others, I had to cram tightly around a too-quiet speaker outside the funeral home to listen to speeches from Doug's closest friends and family members. There were tears, of course, but much laughter as well, especially when sons Shandon and Shawn recounted tales of fun they'd had with their never-dull dad.
The strangest moment came later, at the Laboratory, a brewpub where hundreds moved on to after the service for a get-together and jam session in the Texas Tornado's honor. Staring up at the TV mounted over the bar, as four or five different people were in the middle of relating different great Sahm fables to me, I watched the local news coverage switch from scenes of Doug onstage and footage from the funeral to a live feed not 20 yards from where I was standing. The sound was down on the set, but all I could imagine was what the reporter must have been explaining, "I'm here at Doug Sahm's real memorial services -- an enormous drunken party full of crazy rowdy people talking about Doug Sahm." Of course, it was a shame that fellow party animal Matthew McConaughey couldn't make it, but at least the aspiring bongo player got a chance to jam with another Texas Tornado, Flaco Jimenez, who played over the holiday weekend at Club 71; our photographer reports that the several songs the accordionista played in Sahm's honor sounded as if Flaco were actually channeling his former bandmate.
As I stated before, Sahm certainly won't soon be forgotten, and news continues to roll in on the matter of how Austin should pay a lasting tribute to him. The folks over at Hole in the Wall have announced that they're holding off on a memorial show until January, in order to give themselves time to do it right. Antone's, of course, is taking the opposite approach (though obviously planning to do Doug right as well), with this Friday and Saturday nights packed with talent. Their lineup at press time includes many of the names in bold print above, along with Lucinda Williams, who recently finished the grueling year-and-a-half Car Wheels on a Gravel Road tour, having dedicated her final four shows to Sahm. Aside from her appearance at his tribute, she's taking the next six months off to recoup, rest, and begin work on her next album. Then again, the immediate "r&r" she planned is being compromised by offers like playing the Super Bowl in January.
On the matter of a more permanent memorial to the beloved cosmic cowboy, brother Vic Sahm says, "What I envision is doing something comparable for Doug as was done for Stevie [Ray Vaughan]" and Walter Hyatt. That vision begins to take shape as the DSMC (Doug Sahm Memorial Committee) is having a preliminary meeting this Friday to work up some ideas, so those who feel the need to jump in right away with suggestions and support can find more info by calling Casey Monahan at the Texas Music Office (463-6666).
Come to think of it, mourning seems to be in style across Texas these days, especially for music fans. Mere weeks ago came the news that one of the few Texas rock acts in recent years to receive significant success or accolades, Tripping Daisy, suffered the tragic death of guitarist Wesley Berggren, and was not likely to go on without him. Of course, not long before that, Mark Sandman of the band Morphine succumbed to an unexpected heart attack, yet the word is that Morphine might nonetheless make an appearance here in a few months to promote their upcoming album The Night, recorded before Sandman's demise. The story going around is that Dreamworks plans to supplement the surviving members with some sort of orchestral accompaniment, and that it's not necessarily intended as anything more than a one-off tribute to Sandman.
Back here at home, Danny Crooks, who's been examining a lot of buildings lately in search of a new home for Steamboat, found himself at death's door last week -- not a suitable place to relocate the club since there's no A/C and the zoning's all wrong. Breathing difficulties Crooks had been having increased to the point where he ended up in the emergency room, where doctors said that some 50% of the oxygen was gone from his blood and he was on the verge of having a number of organs shut down. Tentatively diagnosed as suffering from "environmental asthma," the good news for the 'boatman is that he's found an investor, longtime Austinite Smokey Joe Millian, who paid off Crooks' debt to Steamboat name owner Craig Hillis. According to Crooks, ol' Smokey Joe simply decided he had seen too many revered clubs disappear of late and decided to take this matter into his own hands. Finally, to add one more tidbit of positive news to this section of the column, longtime Carousel Lounge pianist Jay Clark reached the age of "80 years young" last week and managed to make a brief appearance at the Carousel for a party held in his honor.
(Sc)Ruin the Man!
With the announcement that Frank Kozik, poster god and owner of S.F.-based Man's Ruin Records, made a deal with Artemis Records, owned by former Atlantic Records prez Danny Goldberg, the word naturally soon went out that Kozik, bringer of acts such as Queens of the Stone Age to the world's ears, had "sold out to the man." Of the joint venture between the two, Kozik says the deal will simply mean better distribution for the loud, hard, and mean rock emanating from his stable. And anyway, he snorts, "I proposed it, so he sold out to me!" Austin-related noise coming soon from the Kozik stable includes a River City Rapists/ Bulemics split CD next month and a new Fuckemos disc somewhere down the road. Meanwhile, Kozik is working on getting his bands ready for South by Southwest, where this year he says it looks like Man's Ruin will expand their popular annual attack on Emo's to two nights and a dozen bands, including Kyuss spinoff Unida, the Gaza Strippers, and former Eyehategodders Suplex.
The band's being purposely fuzzy on exactly what went down, but guitarist Chris "Frenchie" Smith confirms the word on the street that longtime bassist Jeff Copas unexpectedly took his leave of Sixteen Deluxe during the band's month long tour in support of their recent EP, The Moonman Is Blue. Amazingly, the band went on without missing a gig, says Smith, "whipping out some CDs from the merchandise box" and listening to them with Cliff "Cubbie" Skerlock, a musician friend with whom the band was staying that night in Lawrence, Kansas. The group's drummer Steven Hall then switched to bass for the band's next gig, Skerlock manning the kit, and now the band has decided to keep the lineup, with Skerlock in the process of moving to Austin. Smith says that with their new album, Vision Take Me Make Me Never Forsake Me, in the can already, the release of that disc on the band's Figure Eight label should go on in March as planned.
Meanwhile, it looks as though the Meat Purveyors have staved off a trip to the slaughterhouse -- temporarily at least. Last week, several band members were announcing to friends that the group had called it quits, Cherilyn DiMond issuing an e-mail stating, "Hey guys, wanted to let you all know that us Meat Purveyors have decided to hang up the hooks so to speak. We've got a few more shows and then that's that." Those shows were to include a series of gigs with Split Lip Rayfield, including a December 16 appearance at Stubb's, and a final New Year's Eve bash at the Hole in the Wall. Those shows are still on, explains Nan Warshaw at Bloodshot Records, who says she's been battling the "rumors" (as she calls them) and that the breakup has been canceled. Instead, states Warshaw, the band has "decided to let things settle" by taking a six-month break as the new year begins, rather than decide here and now that they're fed up with the group and each other. Besides their two remaining gigs before the hiatus, look for the band's cover of a song by the aforementioned Split Lip Rayfield on Bloodshot's as-yet-untitled fifth anniversary compilation CD.
Kid Rock had better things to do while he was in town than just cruise for babes at the Scabs' show at Antone's a couple of weeks ago (though I'm told he was quite successful in that endeavor as well). The Kid also took the time to do some recording with Gibby Haynes (with fellow Butthole Surfer King Coffey in attendance as well). Sources close to the Butts say that the session didn't yield a finished product, but the Kid has plans to return in January to work further on the material, which so far looks more likely to end up on the Butts' next album than Kid Rock's... Jimmie Dale Gilmore has been recording his next album with producer Buddy Miller at Miller's home in Nashville. According to the Internet news service Allstar.com, the album will contain several covers, including songs by Townes Van Zandt, John Hiatt, Walter Hyatt, and Eddy Arnold. South by Southwest's Brent Grulke confesses to the knowledge that a proposed Flatlanders gig at SXSW 2000 is "an idea that's floating around, but," he hurriedly adds, "not one started by me!" He won't dismiss the idea, saying that in the festival's history, sometimes even unfounded rumors have led to real shows happening. "I was the guy last year going around telling everybody, 'Quit wasting your time talking about Tom Waits, because he's not gonna play!'"... So, some of us were mighty disappointed with VH1 this past Sunday night when the cable network aired a preview of Rock Collectors, their musical answer to PBS' popular Antiques Roadshow. A number of locals brought absolutely gorgeous and awe-inspiring artifacts from their various collections, like Micael Priest's elaborate drawing of Jerry Garcia, Leon Russell, and Doug Sahm at the Armadillo in 1972, autographed by his subjects. So far, in the two episodes shown, instead of such treasures, I've seen clips relegating myself and Margaret Moser to the background while some moronic biddy tries to find out how much her Bread and Styx albums are worth. (Answer: Less than a package of breadsticks, dumbass!) The show apparently moves to a Saturday 11am time slot this week, according to the VH1 Web site; hopefully, they'll get to the good stuff in upcoming weeks...
-- Cultivators: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser