Dancing About Architecture

Another club bites the dust, the first happy bands of 2000, the Greatest Band in the World comes to SXSW, more people do stuff

Merle Haggard, Johnny Gimble, and Ray Benson
Merle Haggard, Johnny Gimble, and Ray Benson (Photo By John Carrico)

Tenaciously Hoping

I can't claim to be totally without influence when it comes to South by Southwest, and sometimes I'll badger the staff to put a little extra work into getting some special act to come down for the March music conferences, or try to help coordinate things with one they're already negotiating with. That's led to appearances by some personal faves like electronic audio/video whizzes EBN, who might never even have thought to apply, and some near misses like Spinal Tap in 1995. This year, I've been joking with friends regularly about the possibility of getting Tenacious D to play SXSW, but never actually thought there was a chance in hell. The story goes, however, that Janeane Garofalo has all but demanded that the self-proclaimed "Greatest Band on Earth" appear at SXSW, with her providing the introduction! The same rumor circulated last year, falsely, leaving Austin's Ten-D fans to satisfy themselves by watching bootleg tapes of the rarely touring group's HBO shows and their guest appearances in Foo Fighters videos. This time around, aided by the fact that TD's Kyle Gass and Jack Black -- the undisputed Kings of Acoustic Cock Rock -- share a label and management with locals Won Santo Condo, the duo are actually listed on the Big Board at the SXSW offices! (Though as always, the schedule is subject to change at any time.) Also on the SXSW front, note the addition of Velvet, formerly the Red Room, and Randall Stockton's yet-unnamed club to the festivities for hip-hop and punk rock shows respectively. SXSW club coordinator Dave Thomson says that despite all of Austin's club closings, SXSW 2000 has now passed the capacity level of previous years, with more venues expected to still be added. For instance, Thomson says Danny Crooks is still trying to find any place he can to throw a Steamboat banner on for the middle of March so he won't miss out on being a part of things this year. If you wanna be a part, make sure to take advantage of your last chance to fill out our Musicians Register form this issue. That way, even if you don't have a SXSW showcase, your phone number and info will be in that week's Chronicle, and all the record company bigwigs will be able to phone you up at their convenience. Also, you've only got a couple of weeks left on the Music Poll, so get on that, too.

Bands on the (Auction) Block

Last week's Chronicle "Class of 2000" reports are just now being cleared off the stands, and already there's a small fleet of ships coming in for various new and old acts in town beyond the armada that was covered therein. Here's a selection of the latest hot tips that have been coming down the pike: Podunk are back from touring with the Sofa Kings (formerly Tesla!) and still feeling the thrill from the official national release of their Throwing Bones album on January 18. With their single "Wings" already grabbing Top 10 numbers on Album Network's Rock and Active Rock charts (the industry mag also just ran a featurette on them in their "Designated Hitters" spot), the group is preparing to return to the road, most likely with Cowboy Mouth. Dynamite Hack is another act that seems to be exploding like, well, you know, dynamite. Last week, R&R magazine highlighted their current success on Austin and Dallas radio with their kinder, gentler version of Eazy-E's "Boyz-N-the Hood," quoting manager George Couri as saying the band has completed enough material for an album, but are currently at work recording new material to show interested labels. Soulhat are working on getting ahead by teaming with producer/engineer Stuart Sullivan on a new, as-yet-untitled album for Terminus Records out of Atlanta. Soul man Kevin McKinney says the group is "mulling over the mixes" for the disc, which he describes as "a little more acoustic-y than our prior releases. It's still intense -- just using strummable instruments rather than twangable ones." Look for the album, featuring art by Earthpig, sometime during or after March. And finally, you may have written off the Wannabes by now as never having a chance of doing anything with their lives (I know they have), but things just might be going their way for a change. Rumors that the band is signing with Atlantic are false, says co-founder Hunter Darby, but an indie that may or may not have ties with that major has expressed interest in issuing the band's ready-to-go latest album and reissuing their previously cassette-only Lucky Pierre. Darby says he doesn't want to jinx things by revealing too much, pessimistically adding that the deal will "probably be doomed, because we're about to go out to San Marcos to discuss it, and look what happened the last time we did that -- we ended up on DejaDisc." Good things, however, can come from San Marcos, too. For instance, the band won't have to worry about paying to get the old tapes for Lucky Pierre mastered for CD, as their old buddy Rob Thomas, former San Marcos-based musician turned current Hollywood TV and movie producer, recently had that job done for them just because he wanted to burn himself a personal copy of the album!

Upstairs, Downstairs

Well, it was a good idea on paper, but now only the paper part remains. The folks behind the slick new Texas Music magazine say they'll remain in their current offices on West Sixth Street, but unfortunately they'll no longer be able to open their front door and enjoy the sounds of live music wafting up from their downstairs neighbor, the similarly titled Texas Music Saloon. Rumors had abounded for months that the venue was having troubles, especially in paying its artists (though I haven't heard of any who didn't eventually get their due), and now the doors have closed on the Saloon, with plans reportedly calling for the first floor of that lovely building to be leased as office space. People have been skeptical about the viability of the magazine as well, but publisher Stewart Ramser says that so far, everything to do with the Lyle Lovett-adorned first issue, from advertiser interest to subscription sales, has been "way ahead of our expectations." Look for a second issue by SXSW time, assuming Ramser & Co. can come up with another cover subject who, 1) makes Texas music, 2) isn't dead, and 3) a significant percentage of the magazine buying public can actually recognize.

Perhaps the Texas Music Saloon folks might think about reopening out at Willie Nelson's movie-set/Old West town (aka Willieville) just outside of Austin, where I'm sure there's a place with the "Saloon" sign already up and everything. Things have been pretty busy out there lately, after all. In an all-day shoot not unlike the one pairing Nelson and Neil Young for a TV special a few years ago, Merle Haggard held court last week with Ray "Ride With Grammy" Benson and Freddie Powers while making a video of "Motorcycle Cowboy" for the Live at Billy Bob's album, chatting about global warming, pot laws, and Bob Wills. Also appearing in the video is Johnny Gimble (looking surprisingly hale and hearty following a series of strokes), those Geezinslaws (did Sammy Allred appear "pro bone-o"?), and a buncha bikers from Taylor. Haggard and his gang also hung out with Dale Watson and his band while on location.

Mixed Notes

The new Village Voice features a Spoon-worship piece by Camden Joy, praising their music and slamming Elektra for dumping the promising band after only four months ("Jello pudding snacks have a longer shelf life!")... Is it A2K2 already? The Friends of Sixth Street group has announced another street closing February 26-27, thanks to a free Mardi Gras celebration, followed by a Bacchus of Austin parade down Sixth on March 3, and additional bacchanalia continuing through Fat Tuesday (3/7), live zydeco and other entertainment TBA... Cotton Mather teaming up with Oasis? Stranger things have happened, and Liam Gallagher was spotted in a recent GQ raving about the local melody boys and announcing he'd been trying to get some touring set up between his brother act and the Mather lads (who, like the Chronicle, are big in Japan). Brother Noel Gallagher ("the decisive one") is said to have been thumbs-upping CM as well. A tour with the two would indeed be a topper idea, as the two bands have many similarities -- strong pop sense and clear Beatles influence -- yet in some ways are complete opposites (Cotton Mather's whole career is still ahead of them)... Loud locals Terminal 46 and Human will be featured with a total of seven songs on the soundtrack for the movie Hellquest, currently being shot on location in Denver and scheduled to begin post-production in late February... Fact: Stevie Ray Vaughan released only five albums during the course of his life. That makes it all the more amazing that the new Ultimate Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble Check List includes within its pages approximately 3,500 collectible items from 28 countries, and features a separate section devoted to David Bowie's "Let's Dance" (which Stevie performed on), listing more than 150 items relating to that song alone. The book was assembled by Austinite Rick Carr and is expected back from the printer on Thursday; look for copies around town soon after. That'll be too soon to include a piece on SRV that Margaret Moser has completed for Mojo that will appear in the next couple of months, but the divine Ms. MM can be seen everywhere in the meantime, having just been interviewed for a New Yorker piece on Lucinda Williams that's been in progress since last April (how appropriately Lucinda-like!), and is currently out touting her new Movie Stars Do the Dumbest Things book with a signing at BookPeople today (Thursday) at 7pm... Guitarist Patrick Donahue says that despite what he's been hearing on the radio, his band Cadillac Voodoo Choir hasn't broken up. Look for some lineup changes, including a new drummer, but expect CVC to continue Wednesdays at Lucy's nonetheless... Add a Flatlanders appearance at Gruene Hall, January 28, to the Cactus Cafe gigs upcoming. Will they tour? The answer is still definitely maybe, according to a Rounder Records publicist who says a short stint on the road is possible, but still "all conjecture"... Meanwhile, the Backstreet Boys show scheduled for March 5 at the Erwin Center is sold out, I'm told. This means, to paraphrase Bill Hicks, that there must be a lot of babysitting money out there that's now free to be used for something more constructive...

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

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Texas Music, Tenacious D, SXSW, Podunk, Dynamite Hack, Merle Haggard

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