Dancing About Architecture
Our resident Marshmallow Peep relates the news and hearsay in and around the Live Music Capital...
SIMS and SAHMS
In what may be the most important tribute to Doug Sahm (beyond even the just-confirmed Austin Music Awards set with Augie Meyers and Sahm's sons Shandon and Shawn along with a strong additional San Antonio contingent), son Shandon is looking into creating a musicians' health care organization similar in tone to the SIMS Foundation, a nonprofit mental health service free to local musicians. Besides Shandon's ties to both his Pariah bandmate Sims Ellison, who who killed himself in 1995, and his father Doug Sahm, who died of natural causes in November, and the phonetic similarity between the names Sims and Sahm, there's a more tragic connection in that if their respective foundations had been in place during their lifetimes, they might well both be with us today. "There was no reason for dad to die," says Shandon, agonizing over the fact that musicians tend to ignore their health problems almost as a part of their lifestyle. For instance, recurring pains in the elder Sahm's hands, which were almost certainly signs of his worsening arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disorder (hardening of the arteries), were dismissed as carpal tunnel syndrome -- the result of playing too much guitar, or so they thought, says Shandon. Since Doug's passing, the son of Sahm has been reading lots of books about heart health, taken a sabbatical to the New Mexico site where his father spent his final days, and begun laying the groundwork for his planned health service. And yes, says SIMS' Peyton Wimmer, the Foundation is not only interested in joining forces, they've actually been planning to expand into the field of musicians' physical health care for some time now. Sahm's proposal of a Foundation bearing the name of his internationally loved and respected father, says Wimmer, simply presents "the perfect opportunity to put everything in place." Expect further information about the plan to start coming out around South by Southwest time, but for now, says Wimmer, keep saving up your donations; it'll be a while yet before any services are actually in place. Soon, however, promises Shandon Sahm, "You're going to be hearing a lot about heart disease, and you're going to be hearing a lot about dad -- which is the way it should be."
Expanding the Limits
Here's another way you'll be "hearing about dad": While he finishes off this season and awaits news on the next, Austin City Limits producer Terry Lickona has been busily turning the Texas Tornados set from last August into a tribute to Doug Sahm, utilizing new interview footage with Augie Meyers and excerpting previous appearances by Sahm on ACL from 1976 and 1981, with discussion also under way for a possible ACL set to accompany Bill Bentley's planned Sahm tribute album. There have been distinct triumphs and disappointments in the 25th season of ACL, the production season of which is winding down this Sunday, but Lickona says it's next year, with the burden of the show's silver anniversary out of the way, that he hopes things will really kick in for the PBS series. With four new underwriters behind the show, he's looking at a distinct hope for ACL to jump from 13- to 26-episode seasons, allowing for an earlier start, as well as the end of the troubling decisions as to what acts will and won't make it onto the show. He's got his eye on urban music, for instance. "I must be the last one to realize what a great scene there is in Houston," he confesses, adding that he sees nothing unusual about featuring hip-hop on the seemingly staid ACL stage. "Anything goes these days," he states, "especially if it's Texas music." He'd also be glad that a 26-episode season would mean "more Toni Price, Guy Clark, Jesse Winchester ... " as well as another chance to get acts that didn't happen this year, like Tom Waits, Jonathan Richman, Beck, Neil Young, and the "annual ritual of ZZ Top turning us down."
Welcome to Springfield, TX
We've gotten used to finding the familiar face popping up among the citizens of Elgin, er, Arlen as we get our weekly dose of reality in Mike Judge's King of the Hill, but how many people were expecting to spot Austin-based Shawn Colvin appearing at the end of last week's Simpsons? Last Sunday, newly widowed Ned Flanders met Rachel Jordan (Colvin), the highly attractive vocalist for the Christian rock outfit Kovenant (you may also recognize their bass player from his stint in Satannica), in a last-minute appearance that gives Ned hope that he may indeed find love again. Rachel, however, is leaving on tour, offering only a promise that when she returns, Ned will see her again. Will he? "We hope so," says Colvin's management, "but they [the Simpsons' producers] don't know yet. What they told us was, 'Well, it leaves the door open, doesn't it?'" "Dancing About Architecture" has already arranged for a spy to attend a Simpsons read-through in Hollywood next week, but in the meantime, speculation is difficult. The show came to Colvin via producer David Mirkin, whom she worked with on the Larry Sanders Show, and Rachel Jordan's debut appearance simply screams "recurring character." Still, given the long lead time involved in creating a Simpsons episode (from script to air takes about a year, and Colvin recorded the voice for last Sunday's episode back in October), if Colvin doesn't get a call back soon, it's most likely that Kovenant won't be booking a return gig on the show till at least late next season. In real life, she's keeping busy, and is currently "smack dab in the middle of recording" a new album, with hopes of a late summer/early fall release for the yet-untitled disc.
You really gotta wonder where some people's heads are at sometimes. The sold-out Primus show at La Zona Rosa last week was an ideal target for ticket counterfeiters, and sure enough, one came along with bogus tickets that were copied from a genuine one onto reasonably correct paper stock, bearing perforations in the right place, and featuring appropriate coloring, but there was one slight problem: The fakes were printed backward! A spokesman for Direct Events, which promoted the show, says they don't believe anyone with the tix to see "simurP" got in to see Primus, but that doesn't help the poor schmucks who paid good forward-facing money for the backassward passes. I don't know what's more worrisome, though -- the fact that people either don't or can't read well enough to tell they've purchased a ticket that isn't even facing the right way, or the thought that if the culprits had been bootlegging at an ABBA reunion, they probably would've gotten away with it!... Current SXSW ins and outs include the Stone Temple Pilots (apparently out) and Patti Smith and Sebadoh (now definitely in). Meanwhile, word on the street is that former Cannibal Club faves Blues Traveler, who are in town working on their next album, may well still be around when SXSW gets under way. The honchos at the conference say they haven't been in contact with John Popper & Co., but "obviously, we'd be delighted to have them play a show if they're still in town." Perhaps the fact that SXSW Film Fest will be showing Wildflowers, a film that features an appearance by the band, will help entice them to hang around... Fastball, who conversely are off in Los Angeles recording their next opus, don't expect to be finished in time to come down for SXSW, but Miles Zuniga's sister Diane reports that her bro definitely intends to take some time off from the studio to make a solo appearance at a free, pre-SXSW gathering at the Gallery Lombardi Lounge (former site of the Electric Lounge), which will feature Sixteen Deluxe and their new pals the Applicators. The Gallery Lombardi itself will be open late during SXSW for fans of the visual arts, and the Lounge, says owner Diane Zuniga, is still available for rent for pre-and post-showcase parties, and will continue to be available for parties until such time as she finally finds a full-time lessee that is "well-suited for our little mix here"... The Smashing Pumpkins appearance at Waterloo Records last Sunday went about as well as could be expected, with much to-do made about ensuring that safety conditions remained above board. KLBJ's Johnny Walker got the first autographs as the line, which extended all the way around Whole Foods across the street, began moving. When it became clear that everyone wasn't going to make it into the shop, Pumpkin head Billy Corgan picked up a large police escort and waded out into the crowded parking lot for a bit before returning to Waterloo and then rejoining the band to take off in the van that had brought them. In between, fans brought in posters, CDs, and whatever effluvia they could think of to get signed. Yes, a few even brought pumpkins, and considering the fruit's short shelf life and the policy at the signing of only one set of autographs per person, I can only guess these were the same people who bought those ersatz Primus tickets... Bummer time: I recently reported that puppet master Marty Krofft was coming to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Well, the notoriously cranky Krofft pulled out, so there'll be no Pufnstuf in your immediate future. Ah, well, if it's any consolation, the Austin Film Society has enticed Eddie Bracken for an in-person, after-screening Q&A following next Tuesday's free screening of Preston Sturges' The Miracle of Morgan Creek at the Texas Union Theatre (see "Screens")... Here's a bit of trivia for you: David Campbell, the conductor for the 24-piece orchestra accompanying Ray Price at the free outdoor show scheduled for SXSW, has arranged songs for the Rolling Stones and Linda Ronstadt, and also happens to be the father of wunderkind Beck! Campbell's own dad Al Hansen was a pioneer of the pop art movement known as Fluxus, and coincidentally enough, this Friday at Gaby & Mo's there's a Hoot Night celebrating the music and poetry of Fluxus' most famous practitioner, Yoko Ono. Among the performers are Owl Morrison, Ky Hote & Owl, Raunchy Reckless & the Amazons (featuring Darcee Douglas), Melanie Rose, Kale Kallach, Danny Dollinger, and Rog Wall, each of whom will either sing, speak, or break things and then glue them back together (see Music Listings)... My spies tell me that as this issue of the Chronicle hits the stands, our "competition" XLent should be displaying their list of the 25 most influential people in Texas music. All I can say is, if they didn't rate Sandra Bullock as their current No.1, there's a problem in their rating system somewhere... Finally, a confidential to the secret admirer who arranged for a, ahem, lovely message to be left on my voice mail Monday morning: It's a tough call whether the woman from the messaging service was more revolted at having to recite the bogus news item about Matthew McConaughey and Gibby Haynes giving each other "mutual stimulation in the back seat of a Fiat Spider" or when she got to the concluding bit about wanting "your stiff manhood in my aching crevice." Either way, it's a pretty sure bet that her Valentine's Day was ruined. Operator 2727, I salute you!...
-- Comedians: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser