Dancing About Architecture

Clifford Antone receives a sentence; Heinz Geissler takes over the Antone's Records label; Ed Hamell is hospitalized after a car accident.

Dancing About Architecture
Photo By John Carrico
Dancing About Architecture

Bastrop County -- The New Home of the Blues

The news crews were out in full force at the federal courthouse last Thursday, with not one but two major trials under way that merited constant coverage. One was the "Whatever Happened to Madalyn Murray O'Hair" trial, the other was the sentencing of Antone's nightclub founder Clifford Antone on drug-related charges. I won't even attempt to bring up the "pot should be legalized" angle; the fact is it isn't, and after pleading guilty, Antone wasn't expected to walk out of the court with a slap on the wrist. Judge James Nowlin admitted that he would have liked to do just that, saying he'd much prefer to be a "good father" rather than a "bad judge," before handing down a sentence of four years in federal prison, a $25,000 fine, and apparently acting in all sincerity, adding on 750 hours of community service per year for five years specifically because he deemed Antone to be a "good guy." Antone's cousin and "partner in crime" Mikal Amuny received a similar sentence, minus the community service, apparently because he did not have a parade of supporters like Tommy Shannon, Derek O'Brien, Stephen Bruton, former mayor Lee Cooke, Ray Hennig, Terry Lickona, Eddie Wilson, and Chronicle editor Louis Black on his side. Many of them spoke on Antone's behalf, but in the long run, it was the fact that so many local musicians would actually show up at 9:30am -- in suits and ties, no less! -- that demonstrated the amount of dedication he commands. Fellow club owner Sasha Sessums of the Black Cat was not in attendance, though she has no doubt had her fill of courtrooms as well; her boyfriend Paul Saustrup was aquitted of murder in a controversial case the following evening. Current Mayor Kirk Watson also did not appear, but at press time was expected to show his dedication to Antone and Austin music by appearing at the House of Blues Concerts' invitation-only groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday for the company's newly acquired property, Southpark Meadows (Check this week's Thrifty Nickel if you're in the market for used Porta Potties or observation towers!), Currently, there's no news as to where Antone will spend his four years behind bars, nor has it been announced when his term will begin. Club personnel say that "as long as they let us keep him, we're glad to have him."

Heinz's New Varieties

In the middle of all the legal brouhaha, a name familiar to Austin's courts has joined the Antone's family, as Heinz Geissler has taken on the role of running not only the Antone's Records label, but also two offshoots, according to Eddie Stout at the label. Geissler, whose own Watermelon label now exists only as a memory and an extended lawsuit, will be setting up a Cuban label and an additional imprint "in the same vein" as Watermelon, which counted among its artists the Derailers, Damnations TX, and less-categorizable bands like the Asylum Street Spankers. Stout, taking a moment out of putting the final touches on Double Trouble's Brazilian tour dates, said that Geissler was chosen to head the label because of his "knowledge of the music industry and how he concentrates on getting things done." Getting things done is definitely something Antone's Records needs to concentrate on, and Stout insists that such titles as the Cliff's Picks compilation, Pinetop Perkins' live album, and the new one from Barbara Lynn will appear in the U.S. in August (all three have already been issued in Europe and are available through the label's Web site), while the Cuban division has scheduled an album by Panchito Alonso as its debut. The long-in-the-works Young Guns comp is still on the schedule as well, and former Spanker Guy Forsyth is in the studio working on his next disc for the Antone's label proper. No, seriously, Guy -- you're working for Heinz again.

Hamell in Traction

Ed Hamell aka Hamell on Trial, skin-pated singer-songrocker and survivor of the fall of the Electric Lounge, was seriously injured in a car accident last Wednesday while heading for a gig, and was flown to the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Penn., where he spent several days in the intensive care unit. Hamell suffered lacerations and trauma to the head and neck, fractured vertebrae, and a fractured arm. He is now conscious and expected to make a full recovery within a few months. All remaining tour dates have naturally been canceled until further notice, and though he will be stuck in a neck and body brace for the foreseeable future, Hamell was expected to be out of the hospital and in his home by the time this issue hits the stands. Benefits are in the planning stages both here in Austin and in New York, and as more information becomes available and time permits, updates will be posted periodically at www.hamellontrial.com. Also, in the "the show must go on -- eventually" department, performances of Soul Picnic, a local play featuring the music of Laura Nyro, art direction by Randy "Biscuit" Turner, executive production by Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul & Maryfame, and a backup combo featuring members of the old Boy Trouble/Problems band, have been canceled for a week, since cast member Jean Synodinos accidentally fell off a porch during rehearsals while trying to retrieve her purse and bruised her leg. She'll be back onstage on June 9 at 8pm. Oh, and Jon Sanchez tells me he almost bought it the other day when some dumbass in a U-Haul hit a van and sent this really huge ladder sailing at him. Sanchez managed to escape being hit, but says it took four people to move the ladder out of the road, following a high-speed chase to get the U-Haul's license number.

Who's Driving This Hack?

Only a a few days into their career as recording artists, and with first-week sales of their Superfast debut projected at around 22,000, and it's getting where you can't follow the Dynamite Hack story without a road map. First off, drummer Chase Scott is already out of the band (management offers the usual "musical differences" explanation), and Carl Schneider from Ten Percenter is filling in at the band's La Zona Rosa show on Friday (erroneously noted in "Music Listings" last week as tonight, Thursday) with a permanent replacement expected to be announced next week. Next, to add to the confusion, Scott is in the Hack's video for "Boyz-N-the Hood," but guitarist Mike Vlahakis isn't; he was ill during the shoot, so the band's merchandising guy took his place in the vid for some nice fake guitar work. As MTV continues to play the band's video, the Internet continues to monitor their progress with the members of NWA. RollingStone.com reported that they played the remake for MC Ren (not to be confused with former Austinite Ren, who's back and forth between here and London recording new material with her old band the Christie Love Experience) and quotes the exasperated rapper extensively: "That was killing me, man," said Ren. "I felt like I was in The Twilight Zone, in some fucked-up town somewhere. I can't take it. My wife told me about it the other day. She said, [they] should be embarrassed. I ain't got nothing to do with that shit." He added that, "There ain't nothing I can do about it. If they have success with it, that's cool. I can still respect them for trying. But I can't take no song like that. [The original] is like a jet plane, and this is like a little prop plane, know what I mean? You can't take a big, fat car and slow it down." RollingStone.com postulates that Ren's reaction might hinder further positive communication between the two bands, but the Hackers are advised not to worry. After all, Coolio got over his beef with "Weird Al" Yankovic, didn't he? Oh, he didn't? Never mind.

Mixed Notes

How do you guarantee a sellout show? Try booking a band with a hot movie star in it. With Russell Crowe's band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts in town recording for six weeks, the act took on a three-week residency of sorts at Stubb's with a trio of shows set for August, and even the stupid name wasn't enough to keep Crowe's fans away. Stubb's Charles Attal says the three shows sold out within as many hours, and only about 10% of the tickets sold will be going to Austinites. Rather, those purchasing tickets for the show will be flying in from as far away as Germany, Japan, and Iceland, and the heavy demand from all over the world actually crashed the Star Tickets Web site! This response to the Aussie star is pretty astonishing, especially considering that last time Keanu Reeves' band Dogstar came through, they couldn't even sell out Liberty Lunch for one show. Of course, that was pre-Matrix... Wan Santo Condo are jumping on the catch-a-star bandwagon, as seen by their pair of dates with Tenacious D (featuring High Fidelity star Jack Black) in Seattle and Portland in July, which are already sold out. The Diamond Smugglers reportedly also have a standing offer to open for the D anytime, but that gig hasn't come together yet... Local fans of the Damned take note that former Austinite Eddie Muñoz of the Plimsouls has joined the new lineup of Dave Vanian's side project the Phantom Chords... Margaret Moser recently took a trip to London to pick up the new Mojo magazine with the cover feature on Janis Joplin. I hear you can find it on some newsstands in Austin, though you can still ask Margaret to show you her "pink box," which is on display in the issue... Next Thursday at La Zona Rosa, the Texas Chapter of the Recording Academy® will host a Health Fair from 11am-3pm. The purpose of this event is to offer the music community the opportunity for preventative health care and early diagnosis through free comprehensive health screening. The venue will be set up with booths offering health screening and information, and will be free for musicians, those who work in the music industry, and their families. For the healthy, door prizes will be given away throughout the afternoon... Didja notice the NRBQ version of Stevie Ray Vaughan's "So Excited" in the film Where the Heart Is? Can't blame you if you found it kinda confusing, since the tune is a cover of a demo of a more popular song, "Pride and Joy"... Finally, the Orange Mothers are making the next few days their special album release and Orange Mothers appreciation weekend. Tonight (Thursday) is the Hoot Night of other bands playing their songs, Friday there's an in-store at Waterloo Records at 5pm, and Saturday at the Continental Club is the actual release party for Big Blue House. And yes, I'll be hosting the Hoot Night as punishment for convincing the band to turn down the reverb so that audiences could hear Ethan Azarian's lyrics...

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More Dancing About Architecture
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The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."

Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

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