Dancing About Architecture
Jimmie Vaughan loves George Bush; Jean Caffeine is back in town! hee hee...
Jimmie Loves Bush!
Politics are in the air, and whether you like it or not, Texas is right in the thick of it via sometime governor/full-time presidential candidate George W. Bush. Some do like it, of course -- the Red Eyed Fly already has plans for both Democrat and Republican voting drives upcoming at the club, with bands of each political faction playing on the respective nights. Meanwhile comes the news that Jimmie Vaughan & the Tilt-A-Whirl Band will perform in Philadelphia at the Republican National Convention Aug. 1. "When it comes to rhythm and blues, it doesn't get much better than Jimmie Vaughan," says Governor Bush, who unlike his dad never got to seriously jam with Lee Atwater. According to a press release, Bush chief media consultant Mark McKinnon says that his goal was to procure "the coolest, hippest musician I could find. This is not your father's Republican convention." Apparently Philly's own Fresh Prince was not available. Vaughan, who along with his late brother Stevie Ray and other blues luminaries including Bo Diddley, Albert Collins, Ron Wood, and Frank Sinatra, performed for Gov. Bush's father at George Sr.'s 1989 inauguration, is quoted in the release as saying "I'm a Texan and I like Gov. Bush," but one has to wonder if that's actually the way he phrased it. All this comes on the heels of the rumor that foul-mouthed Republican rocker Ted Nugent, the man whose Aquafest appearance a few years back sounded like outtakes from Scarface, has been bumped from opening for KISS in San Antonio because he couldn't promise not to say anything bad about Mexicans while onstage. (He's still on for the Austin gig, where he's expected to refer to Lance Armstrong as a "worthless one-balled Frog-lover.") One last note -- I also heard this week that Gov. Bush has appointed longtime Austin scenester Cheney Moore as his running mate, but I may have misread that part.
It's become an inside joke between myself and Jean Caffeine that she's "back in town!" every time I run into her. Actually, she's been living a quiet life as a schoolteacher in Austin during most of the year, and taking advantage of summer vacation to do some touring here and there. Others have been taking advantage of her touring as well, like the person who managed to steal most of her band's clothes out of their vehicle while they performed a gig up north. Tragically, among the threads absconded with was an American flag shirt Caffeine had gotten from Johnny Rotten back in the day. That "lucky shirt" is irreplaceable, says Caffeine, especially "now that I'm a schoolteacher. What kind of iconography like that am I going to have access to?" Still, at least she's got her health, a Continental Club gig tonight (Thursday) with Ron Flynt and the Blue Hearts and Mike Rosenthal, and a new album coming out in September, produced by Lars Goransson, with artwork by the Instruments' Ron Marks and a guest appearance by Miles Zuniga. Tony Scalzo and Joey Shuffield played on her last disc, but Caffeine refuses to speculate on whether she may one day re-release both albums as a two-fer to be filed under "Jean Caffeine with Fastball."
The Safety Dance?
A few weeks ago, buzz started going around regarding an incident at Velvet wherein a bouncer allegedly beat up a guest DJ. Owner Ramen Nauri responded to gentle questioning by the Chronicle by threatening to call the police, but a cooler-headed manager later told me that the bouncer in question is no longer employed there. In fact, former Velvet man Noah Ark, who split from the club a few days before the incident, tells me that the bouncer in question was already an ex-employee at the time of the incident, making the altercation an unfortunate one, but more in the category of a general scuffle than a matter for current and future Velvet patrons to worry about. Getting back to Mr. Ark, he's planning something massive ("Moonshine Over America") for the old airport again in October, but for now, he's concentrating on Club Ark, a sort of portable rave (all the visual stuff you expect from a rave within the confines of a dance club) that he'll be debuting Friday at the Caucus Club with San Fransisco DJ crew Wicked. Let's hope all stays safe on the city's dance front -- remember, stay away from the brown Ketamine.
Our Ears Are Burning
It's been too long, far as I'm concerned, since the last time I had a chance to run this column-within-a-column. "Our Ears Are Burning," for those who don't recall, is a roundup of highlights from reviews of Austin and Austin-related bands as they appear in various publications outside of Austin, ranging from oddball zines to Chronicle-like weeklies to slick national magazines. No judgement is involved on my part (in fact some of these comments just might piss me off) -- I just run the most provocative line or two from each review I come across, in this case mostly from a pile of publications snagged from ABCDs on Airport. Here's the gist of what the rest of the world is saying about Austin music these days:
Pop Unknown, If Arsenic Fails, Try Algebra: "[Features] ex-members of the highly regarded emo band Mineral, but this debut full-length hardly falls in the same realm... It's all just kinda there, with nary a morsel of spark, bite, or charisma." (The Big Takeover, Summer 2000)
Troy Young Campbell, Man Vs. Beast: "Campbell adeptly fuses introspective lyrics and engaging melodies throughout his ballads -- imagine a combination of Pete Droge, Boo Hewerdine, and Neil Young in a coffeehouse setting, and you may begin to imagine what Man Vs. Beast is about." (Amplifier #19, 2000)
Gravitar, You Must First Learn To Draw the Real: "Very Butthole Surfers circa Cream Corn... It's real heavy shit, near claustrophobic at times bacause there's just so much going on, practically seizure-inducing." (Big Takeover)
Gurf Morlix, Toad of Titicaca: "... liberally mixes country, blues, roadhouse, rock, and soul. Morlix's limited vocals actually work to strengthen the honest, nothing-fancy music." (Amplifier)
If you want to read (and hear) a lot about Austin music in a single non-Austin magazine, check out the new Oxford American, on newsstands now. In the special "Southern Music Issue," the mag features articles on Alejandro Escovedo, Kelly Willis, and the Derailers, not to mention a Buddy Holly piece by none other than Peggy Sue Gerron. The three townies are also featured on the magazine's accompanying CD, alongside Dean Martin doing Patsy Cline's "He's Got You" and Tom Petty performing "Billy the Kid" (disappointingly, not the Joe Ely song)...
Meanwhile on the Internet, Playboy magazine makes the musical statement "Just think of all the rad rockers who've come out of the Austin scene: the Butthole Surfers, Fastball, Stevie Ray Vaughn [sic], Shawn Colvin and electro-shock poster artist Frank Kozik, to name just a few." That article is viewable at www5.playboy.com/oncampus/feature/austin/ and features words and pictures of Bob Schneider, DaHeBeGeBees, George DeVore, Stones Throw, Sun Vocina, Mr. Resistor, Hairy Apes BMX, Larry, and of course those lovable Schrödinger's Cat kids... Don't say I didn't warn you: After discussion with the Continental Club and Wayne Nagel, the Sixth Annual Brian Jones Hoot Night (benefiting SIMS Foundation) has once again been rescheduled as almost all the bands from the original July 3 date had to drop out. To give time for a strong lineup to drop in, the show has been bumped to Sunday, Oct. 15... Abra Moore is currently playing the Limbo Rock as an Arista signee while that company gets its post-Clive Davis act together. The good news is blockbuster acts Santana and Whitney Houston have opted to remain with Arista rather than following Davis, so Moore shouldn't have to worry about the label going belly-up before her next disc gets released... Some people prefer to be indier than others, thus Mark Addison of Kitty Gordon tells me that India Records will soon be up and running, "bemoaning the fact that the record industry is in the worst hell it's ever been. India is the joint effort of four acts, all of whom will have albums out soon on the label. Those acts include the aforementioned Kitty Gordon, Will Sexton, Jeff Klein, and Dewato. Those last two should have their first discs out the third week of Ausgust, with a label concert by all four slates for a few days after... There's a big buzz surrounding the Ritalin Kids these days, but the band is playing things quiet, saying only that yes, they've been talking to a couple of labels. Meanwhile, the local label that put out their recent EP has changed its name. The tongue-twisting Kokizz y Que Records, whose name is an inside joke/tribute to label founder Nelson Aguilar's late brother, has been shortened to the simpler K Y Q Records. That label's next project is expected to be a split 7" from Superfirst and Schatzi... One band that has no great love lost for the majors, Prescott Curlywolf, has proof they still exist via a handful of MP3s at their sparse but amusing Web site www.pwolf.com. It's difficult to assemble the band members all in the same place, says Ron Byrd, but the quartet will resume work on their next album, for which they're getting some industry bites already, "as soon as we can get everyone in town"... The Metro, Sixth Street's new large-sized live original music venue, had a successful opening weekend this past Friday and Saturday (with Pushmonkey and Soak, respectively), but many attendees has a single question on their lips: "Where can I sit down in this place?!?" The club reports that their (very) long-term plans for the venue include "stadium" seating (i.e. bleachers), but for now, the old and feeble among you will be glad to know that by this weekend the club will have brought in enough tables and chairs to seat about 120 people. The rest of you will just have to stand and/or dance... Back Porch Mary have been picked to represent Austin at a Maverick Records showcase this Saturday in Dallas. The band also has a new single recorded with Stuart Sullivan, and plans to release it in August... A new CD by Gong Li just made it into my hands as well. Though the disc I've got is still a work-in-progress number, expect the finished Nerker to come out for real in a month or two... Members of Los Super 7 have been spotted at Antone's and elsewhere over the past couple of weeks, and the reason is simple -- they're in town recording a new album. So is another numerical band, the Old 97s. Wally Gagel, who produced the band's first album, returns for this one with Tchad Blake (Los Lobos, Latin Playboys) at the mixing board... This just in: As I drove to the office to finish this column, I heard a report on the radio from Baba Booey (does his brother still live here?) stating that the fall Beastie Boys tour has been canceled due to a bicycle mishap where Mike D injured his shoulder. According to www.beastieboys.com, it's merely been "postponed." In either case, at least we know they won't be giving Lance Armstrong any competition...
Unregistered Voters: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser