Dancing About Architecture
TV crews come to cover Austin's music scene as more musicians split for more lucrative climes; the Flatlanders keep it intimate, and more stuff happens, too.
This Wheel's on Fire
Asleep at the Wheel will be spending most of their waking hours staring into the TV eye in the upcoming weeks, thanks to their astonishing six Grammy nominations -- tying TLC for the second most nominations overall, after Carlos Santana -- and their involvement with the Austin City Limits 25th anniversary. Ray Benson and a portion of the band join Lyle Lovett and Shawn Colvin to perform before the great David Letterman on Feb. 9 with a performance of "Faded Love" from the Grammy-nominated Country Album of the Year, Ride With Bob. Then, to make sure they've covered both ends of the spectrum, that'll be followed by a visit from the Wheel gang to Bryant Gumbel, Mark McEwen, and the crew of CBS' The Early Show. "The only time I ever thought I'd get up this early for Bryant Gumbel was to play golf," quips busy Benson, who recently ended up as a last-minute replacement on the Grand Ole Opry when Travis Tritt got the flu, then followed that up when the rest of the band arrived by playing an astonishing four gigs in five hours(!) You can start looking for the Wheel on the tube with today's (Thursday) Show Biz Today at 3:30pm on CNN as they begin celebrating Grammy Fever, something the whole band can look forward to with equal enthusiasm this year. Though many of the spokes of the Wheel have their own trophies (that's Benson with all his prior trophies, if you hadn't already guessed), not all do, and publicist Jeffrey Currier says he "did a lot of paperwork" this year to ensure that everybody on Ride With Bob gets their due. Considering that there's a total of 84 musicians on the album, that's no mean feat!
If Ride With Bob isn't enough to sate your Bob Wills lust, rejoice in the long-awaited return to Austin of sometime Evan Johns partner Eugene Chadbourne. On Jan. 22, Chadbourne, who to my knowledge continues to be ignored by the Grammys, comes armed with his electric rake and Ernest Tubb Memorial Band (featuring Walter Daniels, Dave Dove, and Susan Alcorn) to present "New Directions in Country and Western," in which the good Dr. Chadbourne radically reinterprets the music of Wills, Willie Nelson, Tubb, and Doug Sahm. Epistrophy Arts is putting on the show, with a location still to be announced. Chadbourne will also play a solo set on Friday the 21st at the Hole in the Wall.
TV Ear 2000
More action on the cable news network front: CNBC is getting in on the Antone's action, as the cable news channel showed up at the club last Thursday to interview Clifford Antone (along with new general manager Brad First, perhaps?) and the band Mingo Fishtrap, taping that band's performance at the club. The show also filmed the Groove Line Horns at the newly-acquired Music Lane studio, with the resulting segments and other Texas-related features to air on CNBC's business news show Power Lunch between 11am-1pm on Monday, January 24. The crew will be returning to town on the 24th, where they'll be doing a live wrap of the story back at Music Lane. Speaking of the Groove Line Horns, the Scabs are nearing the end of their long residency at Antone's (they'll continue through February, most likely), coincidentally enough as singer Bob Schneider prepares for his upcoming appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman. Schneider is currently concentrating on his solo career and side project Lonelyland (see "Class of 2000" for the full story) and admits there's confusion and some acrimony over his naming his upcoming solo album Lonelyland. "[Lonelyland member David] Boyle is going to put out a solo album next," quips Schneider, "and he's threatening to call it Bob Schneider." Look for a Bob S. project to play the Austin Music Awards this year, along with the just-announced Kelly Willis, and Alejandro Escovedo's tribute to Sterling Morrison featuring Tosca. Don't forget to fill out the Music Awards poll and the Musicians' Register in this issue of the Chronicle, by the way.
Over at Threadgill's, meanwhile, the producers of the Texas Music Cafe showed up for a two-day shoot this Monday and Tuesday to assemble a one-hour PBS special on the musical development of Austin as seen through the history of Threadgill's. Typically, this writer popped into the proceedings just in time for its first major glitch, a long delay as members of the Hot Club of Cowtown found themselves "on a plane going the wrong way" (or something like that, according to Threadgill's Eddie Wilson). Wilson reports that as of that point, his favorite moment in the busy shoot had been a fiery set by the Bells of Joy, who he's thinking of starting up in a Saturday afternoon residency if he can come up with a better title for the shows than "Seventh Day Adventist Brunch."
The Envelope Please
Did someone say Austin Music Awards? Why that can only mean one thing: South by Southwest. The annual call for volunteers comes down from the music conference this week, with the first meeting, open to any and all interested parties, next Wednesday from 5-9:30pm at the Hyatt Regency Hotel (208 Barton Springs Road). Volunteers receive "opportunities to meet interesting people of all types and ages, gain valuable new contacts, business leads and job experience" and, you know, get free passes to stuff. The other thing that came out of SXSW World Headquarters this week was a new list, of which we've skimmed some names off the top: Adult Rodeo, Alabama Thunder Pussy, Apples in Stereo, Ass Ponys, Bad Livers, Bevis Frond, Black Kali Ma (Gary Floyd's new band), The Blacks, Blood of Abraham, Blue Rags, Bottle Rockets, Doyle Bramhall II, The Brooders, Troy Young Campbell, Neko Case, Catherine Wheel, Causey Way, Chainsaw Kittens, Continental Drifters, Cypress Hill, Damnations TX, Deathray, Dieselhed, Johnny Dowd, Steve Earle, Mark Eitzel, Ex-Husbands, Harvey Sid Fisher, Flo Mob, Friends of Dean Martinez, Tom Freund, Gay Dad, The Go, Godzilla Motor Company, Golden Arm Trio, Gov't Mule, Jon Dee Graham, Groovie Ghoulies, The High Fidelity, The Hookers, Mike Ireland & Holler, Daniel Johnston, Kiss Offs, Knife in the Water, La Donnas, Sonny Landreth, Mary Lou Lord, Macha, Marah, Men of Porn, Monroe Mustang, Murder City Devils, Nebula, North Mississippi All Stars, Orbit, Peenbeets, Pernice Brothers, PigGie Hat, Pong, Poster Children, Radar Brothers, Reverend Horton Heat, Amy Rigby, Rocket from the Crypt, Salaryman, Slobberbone, Spoon, Steve Steven, Streetwalkin' Cheetahs, System of a Down, Tee Double,Therapy?, Sally Timms, Waco Brothers, Shannon Wright, and Zen Guerrilla. Of course that's not the half of it, and you can consult the music conference's Website (http://www.sxsw.com) in upcoming days for the complete (and ever-updating) list. Not that you won't be hearing more from us on the subject!
Amid multiple queries as to whether the Flatlanders will also play SXSW this year, Brent Grulke says that everyone is talking to him about it except for those actually associated with the band. Flatlanders fans who got a scare when the band's Cactus Cafe shows disappeared from the venue's advertising can calm down now. The Cactus shows set for January 26-27, featuring the reuniting of Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock (who reunited last year to make an appearance in network late-night talk show land) are still on and sold out, but fear not: Two more shows are being added on February 22-23, with a ticket sale date yet to be announced. Asked why the band hadn't simply been moved upstairs for one big show in the Texas Ballroom, the Cactus' Griff Luneberg says, "Both myself and the band felt that an intimate setting was essential to our commitment that people fully enjoy the Flatlanders' performance, especially given the long anticipation music fans have had for these rare reunion shows." Actually, what he really said was, "It's just one of those special things," but this sounded more official given the "special" nature of the news at hand. Asked how quickly the first two shows had sold out, Luneberg cocked his head slightly, winked, and quipped, "Pretty quick."
A Double Farewell
New York City has called and two more longtime Austinites have answered, as pop princess Amy Atchley and husband/jazz saxman Elias Haslanger report their relocation to the Big Apple. The couple both played farewell sets in town on Wednesday, with Haslanger explaining that the sudden departure can't be helped, as "the day after I flew into NYC, I found a nice apartment in Park Slope. Call it fate or whatever, but the whole process took less than 24 hours. Consequently, we have to get up there ASAP." Born and raised in Austin, Haslanger lodges a complaint about the city that you won't hear from many Austin musicians in the year 2000: "Life here is good," he opines, "but it moves too slow for me now." Haslanger had previously lived in NYC for a short time in 1992, and Houston-born Atchley had success playing there this fall at CBGB's and The Living Room, netting a strong review in The New York Times. At that point, says Haslanger, the pair agreed that New York living was something they both wanted to experience as soon as possible. Just wait 'til they experience the fleet of Austin musicians who already moved there showing up on their doorstep and asking for handouts.
The troublemakers behind the old Alcohol, Drugs and Driving 'zine say that not only are they threatening to put out a new issue within the next couple of weeks, they're also presenting "Tokyo's newest pop-sensations, Nick, Sushi, and Ninja -- the Creepees -- in their first ever U.S. performance" at the Hole in the Wall Free for All this Sunday, 9pm. Hmmmm. Later in the evening, the original lineup of the Paranoids will reunite as they prepare to go into the studio in April to record a full-length new album... The Alamo Draft House Cinema is finally adding more comedies to their silent film series with live accompaniment schedule. Look for Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush with the Asylum Street Spankers next Wednesday and Thursday, and upcoming, Harold Lloyd's classic Safety Last. And wait for this: they tell me puppet master Marty Krofft is coming in person next month and bringing some materials from his "private collection." I refuse to even speculate... Oops!: Last week I told you Randall Stockton was looking for suggestions on what to name his new post-Bates Motel venue, but there was a slight glitch in his e-mail address. Send your idea for the name of his upcoming new club on Red River to firstname.lastname@example.org...
-- Constipators: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser