Dancing About Architecture

Clifford Antone gets one more reprieve?, More music at the airport, and more

Clifford Antone
Clifford Antone (Photo By Jana Birchum)


Is he or isn't he? That's been the question on everyone's lips these past couple of weeks when it comes to Clifford Antone -- and the man known for his "ask me about the music, nothing else matters"stance has kept predictably mum. Antone's sentencing on federal charges of racketeeering had been set for December 15 -- next Wednesday -- but late last week came rumors that the date would be postponed because the judge was on vacation. That would appear not to be the case, but it looks as though Antone will likely receive at least a temporary stay of execution, as it were. The official statement from the office of U.S. District Court Judge James R. Nowlin is that "all documents in this case are sealed," however, a representative of the court confided that, "I don't think you're going to miss anything soon," and Antone's attorney Dick Deguerin (famous as the legal counsel to David Koresh of Branch Davidian fame) says that he does indeed hope for a postponement of the sentencing. A formal motion has yet to be filed, says DeGuerin, adding, "I don't have any doubt" the judge will agree to the delay. Though he wouldn't specify a date, Deguerin postulated that the postponement would likely hold the sentencing off until sometime in the next year, perhaps around March.

As is typical of such legal matters, this has already been a long, dragged-out affair, with no real developments since last January, when Antone and a co-defendent each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, a violation with a maximum punishment of life imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $4 million. Fear over the possibility of incarceration was impossible to spot in Antone's eyes over the past week, where, as usual, he has held court in the nightclub that bears his name. He was in good spirits during last weekend's two-night tribute to the late Doug Sahm. Though many commented on the absence of expected guest Lucinda Williams (friends tell me that the throat ailment that forced her to stop mid-song at last Wednesday's Tary Owens benefit hadn't cleared up in time for the Sahm shows), the high points were plentiful; a breathtaking "She's About a Mover" from son Shawn Sahm moved many emotionally, and hot Gulf Coast R&B from Kim Wilson with the West Side Horns made 'em sway physically. Antone himself, who at one point was seen chatting with filmmaker Nancy Savoca, director of the River Phoenix vehicle Dogfight and current would-be Janis Joplin life chronicler, noted that his favorite performances of the weekend came from Joe "King" Carrasco and San Antonio bluesman Randy Garibay.

It'll be a sad day if and when Antone is forced to depart his dark, sweaty club for a dank, cold cell -- sad for him, for the club, and for all of us who love and respect him for everything he's done for this city, and in fact this planet, in bringing the blues and other great music to so many young ears, for keeping great traditions alive, and for making so many booties shake in glee. There's no arguing he knew what he was risking long before he pled guilty to the charges against him, but there's also no defending the sort of laws that would throw a great man, who has been such an asset to his community, into a cell and toss away the key. Perhaps, as a former recreational drug user, our fine governor will put his foot down on this ludicrous War on Drugs that takes great people and pens them up, filling our prisons so quickly that rapists and murderers are forced back onto the streets early. Yeah, that's it: Maybe good ol' George W. Bush will step in to help save Antone and keep the quality of life in the Live Music Capital of the World from dropping precariously low in the process ... Naaah, not a chance.

TV Ear

There seems to be some awareness from the local business sector of the great value of Austin's music industry, I'm happy to report. Clifford Antone will be the inaugural guest on Friday's segment of regular music news coverage on the River City's new 24-hour local news station, News 8, and again you can expect him to talk about music and naught else. Beginning tonight (Thursday), News 8 has hired the Chronicle's Andy Langer to contribute one feature/interview each week and one live music recommendation. Recos will air on Thursdays, features on Friday, with each tentatively scheduled to air more than 10 times daily, so that those interested in music who aren't home at exactly 6 or 10pm can find local music news day, night, or 2:30 in the morning. In addition, Langer will now cover all music-related breaking news for News 8, no doubt hoping that none of the live segments will be as embarassing as his KUT gig was last Sunday night. Planning to play some songs from the new CD from the Barbers, Langer was pleased when he found out that the band was across the street at the Hole in the Wall and invited the couple that fronts the band to come over to the KUT studio for an interview. Unfortunately, he discovered -- live on the air in mid-discussion -- that he had actually invited and was speaking to the couple that fronts the Barkers! Langer eventually found their album and got on with the night's music.

We Want the Airlanes

You gotta like a press release like this one: "As part of the 1999 Holiday Festival, Tiktok will be performing this Friday, December 10 in the Central Terminal Area of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport between 2 and 4pm. Admission is free, but all audience members must submit to a metal detector and the possibility of a strip search by uniformed security." Nancy Coplin, the new music coordinator for the airport, confirms the no-cover policy, but warns that music lovers visiting the airport do have to pay a parking fee. The Bergstrom gang would appear to have gotten over their paranoia about letting people know who's playing there and when -- you can now check their Web site (http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/newairport/) or our club listings for that info. Take note that the airport's regular two-days-of-music-a-week schedule shifts to Wednesday and Thursday due to the fact that Christmas and New Year's Eve both come on Friday nights. As the year 2000 rolls around, Coplin says the regular Thursday and Friday music schedule will resume, with plans to possibly add a Sunday brunch-time slot and perhaps eventually expand to five evenings a week of live music at the airport. That last idea, she says, could be a while off yet; she says she's still only part-time, and even runs the sound board herself. Coplin also adds that the airport's P.A. system is still playing Austin music for travelers' listening pleasure, and that after the local holiday discs are removed in January, large doses of Doug Sahm will be placed in rotation in memoriam. Coplin also books the live music for the annual Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, which opens this Saturday, with Lon & Champ Hood performing that afternoon at 3pm and Ray Wylie Hubbard taking the evening shift at 8pm (for the series' full lineup, see the ad in this week's issue). And if that don't beat the Muzak at the mall, I don't know what does!

Mixed Notes

I don't think I've yet drilled it into your little heads that the Chronicle Musicians Register for 2000 is in the works, but you need to fill out the form in this issue or an upcoming one (or go to our Web site, http://www.auschron.com/musicreg) before the January 21 deadline. It looks like this year's Musicians Appreciation Dinner won't be happening due to some miscommunication between the Chron and Threadgill's, but that's no excuse for not getting your band's name and number listed in our free guide so any record company executives who wander through town know how to get ahold of you... Not completely coincidental to the appearance of an advance we recieved for Bang, the upcoming post-mortem B-sides/rarities comp from the Jesus Lizard, word has come to the Chronicle that all of the former members of Scratch Acid, the much-lauded locally spawned outfit from whence the Lizard was drained, have talked about possibly performing a reunion gig some time in the not-too-distant future. It would've even happened this fall, says drummer Rey Washam (who's about to return to the studio with Ministry), but the band couldn't find an appropriate venue due to various factors. Depressingly enough, he confirms that had the Lunch still been standing at the time, two nights of shows would've probably gone down there. Rumblings of reunion gigs have also been heard recently concerning the Rockbusters (Austin's kinder, gentler version of the Mentors) and on the less piercing side, South by Southwest's Brent Grulke confesses to the knowledge that a Flatlanders gig at SXSW 2000 is "an idea that's floating around, but," he hurriedly adds, "not one started by me!" When asked last week, he wouldn't dismiss the idea, saying that in the festival's history, sometimes even unfounded rumors have led to real shows happening. Sure enough, before I could even fit the matter into this column, it was announced that there are definite Flatlanders shows coming up -- at the Cactus Cafe toward the end of January... A conspiracy buff might wonder if there's some record company people out to "get" Spoonman Britt Daniel. At the same time as the arrival of Spoon's new single lambasting the band's former A&R man ("Lafitte Don't Fail Me Now"/"The Agony of Lafitte") comes a new radio-only compilation from Matador, If Radio Was Nice These Woulda Been Hits: Matador: The First Ten Years, spotlighting a Spoon track ("Nefarious") from the past. The problem? Radio programmers assume a disc made especially for them is FCC-friendly, and the Spoon song on the disc is laced with that awful "F-word." Daniel, who hasn't seen or heard the comp, says he doesn't think the song was chosen to trick deejays into losing their jobs in the name of Spoon; he figures either the track was picked by mistake or in the assumption that "nobody would play it anyway." Spoon debuts some new live material this Friday at Stubb's, and Daniel says he's working on a new band with his brother Christopher, but of his recent solo career, he says those touring performances were only a way of making gas money to get back from New York... On the "Brit with one T" front, meanwhile, Stickpony frontman Brit Jones was hospitalized this week due to an acute flare-up of ulcerative colitis, but is expected to return home on Friday. Stickpony recently observed a lineup change, as guitarist Greg Wilson (aka former Sincola axeman Wendall Stivers) was replaced by Alex Crump after it was discovered that Wilson/Stivers is able to incite ulcerative colitis with the power of his mind... Benefits continue to proliferate during the holiday giving season, among them "When Angels Sing," an evening of holiday music and stories for Caritas of Austin this Sunday at One World Theatre, with solo performances by Willie Nelson, Ann Richards, Shawn Colvin, Ray Benson and Steve Fromholz, and hosted by Turk Pipkin. Willie's blues band will debut songs from their upcoming Island Records album at his second charity event of the week, the SIMS Foundation benefit at La Zona Rosa on Wednesday (12/15), and the Live Oaks Coffeehouse is getting in their "Day in the Life" entry for SIMS this Friday with Slaid Cleaves. Next Wednesday also offers a Brown Santa benefit featuring Tracie Lynn at the Texas Music Saloon (their companion magazine, Texas Music, is out now, by the way), and finally, Mother Rock Star, a network of moms in the music industry that provides professional services, referrals, and motherhood support, celebrates the second year of its existence at the Red Eyed Fly tonight (Thursday). There will be a reception at the Fly at 6:30pm; the event is open to everyone, including children. The music begins at 7:45pm with Women Songwriters in the Round: Tawnya LoRae, Elizabeth Lee & Terri Lord plus Girl Robots, Won Ton Lust, Funny HaHa, Annyland, and Pong... Dahebegebes tell me that Matthew McConaughey showed up this week at Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar and joined the band on -- you guessed it -- bongos. "He was fully clothed and quite the player," the band reports. Why do I suspect this is one running gag that'll be a long time dying? ...

-- Calibrators: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser

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Antone, Airport

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