Dancing About Architecture
Jump on It skips a beat but keeps on keepin' on; Solid Gold 40 gives up the ghost.
All for the NOOKie
Hip-hop fans, Eastside youth, and a lot of other assorted Austinites were happy last Wednesday to find that after a mysterious absence the week before, the weekly Jump on It extravaganza was back at its regular time and place (6-10pm Wednesdays, 2300 Rosewood behind Doris Miller Auditorium). It's free, city-sponsored, and, according to organizer NOOK, "one of the best things happening on the Eastside -- it gives everyone something to look forward to." The "everyone" he refers to isn't just the kids in that part of town, either -- some 4,000 people and families from all ethnic groups and all over Austin show up each week, which made for quite a bit of confusion when the July 19 show didn't happen, a problem that NOOK says stems from the city manager's office failing to delegate which department would be paying for this year's events. The Parks and Recreation Department took care of things at first, but when they ran out of available funds, it took a week without Jump on It before the Health Department managed to grab the ball. NOOK appreciates the efforts of both, but says he continues to be disappointed at the relative lack of attention the Eastside receives from the city. "Nothing gets done until we get to yelling and acting the fool," he expounds, "When do you get to the point when that isn't a necessity?" Hopefully by next year, as this coming Wednesday (Aug. 9) is the grand finale of Jump on It 2000, featuring Rap-a-Lot artists Ghetto Twins and NOOK himself (whose new, Sony-distributed album Get Ready is due Sept. 19). By then he's hoping to gain corporate sponsorship (interested parties can contact Charles Byrd at 512/845-8551) for the events, which he says help education by providing a sort of prize for area kids, and he attributes a drop in the area crime rate to kids not wanting to get in trouble and miss the shows. The mix of people at the shows, which are largely trouble-free, also does good for the city in helping ease racial and police tensions, he maintains, adding that "we still have a lot of work to do." As of this Wednesday morning, for example, the money to cover expenses for the finale show had only just been confirmed, a fact that leads NOOK to conclude, "We can never get too comfortable."
Solid Gold 40 is no more. Says David Wyatt, aka Stinky del Negro, "We felt like it was time to go our separate ways. We each have our own lions to defeat and, ultimately, this wasn't the hill we wanted to die on." Post-40, Wyatt is putting together a band to facilitate touring and album support for Stinky del Negro, with an album, The Soft Favorites, due out in September. David Craig, aka Dr. Favorite, is taking a hiatus to devote himself to his recent marriage to Bob Wills offspring Leslie. Favorite and Stinky plan to continue writing and playing music together. Jasper Benson, aka Jay, is taking time off but plans to join or put together another band soon. Phillip White, aka Pork Chop, will continue as the drummer for Brown Whörnet, who are currently mastering The Radio Album (working title). Rebekah Whitehurst, aka Spidey Whitey, can still be seen in School Trauma Flashback and Sexy Finger Champs; the latter of which is still scheduled for a Japanese tour this fall. Spidey was also recently phoned by a member of Courtney Love's personal staff (as a pick for Ms. Love's favorite female bassists of SXSW), so, says Wyatt, "there may be even more Hole in Rebekah's future. There will be no farewell show," he concludes. "You'll just have to remember us as we were -- young, rowdy, disoriented, and starting to gain weight." Say goodbye to Julieann Banks as well, as she's leaving Austin soon to set up shop in Shreveport, La. Banks, Larry Cordle, Danny Click, and Jeff Tveraas will perform at Waterloo Ice House, 38th & Medical Parkway, on Friday at 9:30pm in a songwriters in the round event with several special guests stopping by, and this is probably your last chance to say. "Au revoir " (Cajun for "goodbye") to Julieann.
The release date for Dexter Freebish's Capitol Records debut A Life of Saturdays is closing in (Sept. 26). And over the last couple of weeks, the band has been traveling around the country and visiting radio stations everywhere. Last week, they tell me, the vibrato-laden first single "Leaving Town" was the second most-added song into rotation at rock radio stations across the country, and the band recently shot a video for it in Los Angeles, viewable on their Web site www.dexterfreebish.com (what were the odds of that not already being taken?!?). Not everybody's happy with Capitol Records these days, though, and I'm not talking about the Butthole Surfers, either. If you fondly remember Balloonatic, you might like to check out the new CD from A Don Piper Situation, which is finally available only through the band's Web site. That disc has been pending since 1997, when the band inked a deal with Rondor publishing and, soon after, with Capitol. "We started to record the album for Capitol during the fall of 1997 up in West Hurley, N.Y., at Dreamland Studios, a beautiful vintage studio in the woods that was at one time a church," says Piper. "I was able to enlist my good friend Craig Ross (Cake Like, David Garza, Patty Griffin) to co-produce the record with the help of Robbie Adams (U2, Smashing Pumpkins, Waterboys)." The record was soon delivered to Capitol only to find the company shifting its priorities to a more hit-based label. They never put the record out even after Piper was deemed singer-songwriter of the year by Rolling Stone in its 1998 summer "hot" issue. Piper calls the whole ordeal "very confusing for everyone involved," and says eventually the band was freed from the label and given the option to release the record themselves. Grab it at www.adonpipersituation.com -- where do they come up with these domain names? Piper's music will also be heard in directors Kevon Ford (Three Days) and Monica Deo's upcoming road movie Caravan Summer, also featuring tunes from Ross, Sixteen Deluxe, Seela, and Daniel Johnston.
Don't know why it took me so long to get around to it, but I finally called up Jad Fair to see how things are going. The legendary Half Japanese founder (rent the documentary The Band Who Would Be King for details) moved to town, or just outside town to be precise, some four months ago, and has been staying busy with music, art, and book projects since. Why Austin? "Because my girlfriend lives down here," he explains. Since he's out near Ian McLagan's place in Manor (now there's a potential duo!), Fair usually only makes it into town on weekends, but can be spotted at shows occasionally, and plans to do some gigs of his own around October, including some with the aforementioned Daniel Johnston. The pair released an album a decade ago and recorded another last year, but Fair says he doesn't expect the follow-up to be released very soon. "I thought I had a label" for that project, he explains, but like most deals these days, things didn't come together. Fair's also been recording with his brother David, who lives in Maryland, as well as with Half Japanese -- a new album is being mixed in Switzerland for an October/November release -- and with Teenage Fanclub on a project where Fair wrote lyrics and sang and the band wrote music and played. While you're waiting for those, go to Yard Dog and check out some of Fair's visual art, and if you spot him, be sure and ask him about his book on paper cuttings. Fair enough?
Stuck in a Jam!
Unrepentant Chronicle vet and Rolling Stone scribe Jason Cohen continues to mock victims of tragedy in print (way to go, bro!) in his latest Rollingstone.com column despite taking such a drubbing from the public that it rated a mention in the New York Post's "Page Six" column. Noted the Post: "Scores of Rollingstone.com readers were appalled at flippant remarks on the Web site earlier this month over the trampling deaths of eight rock fans at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark," and quoted the pair's comment "Man-o-Manischewitz, are we glad we didn't go to Roskilde! ... we feel really bad for Eddie [Vedder] & Co. (not to mention the families, etc.) but look on the bright side: Pearl Jam have always wanted to be the Who." I can hardly fault Cohen and Krugman for bad taste, since my own first nationally published "piece" was when I won a 1980 Crazy magazine contest with the joke:
I got trampled at the.
I got trampled at the who?
Fortunately, Cohen and Krugman appear to have learned their lesson. The pair's latest column, which hit the Web Tuesday, covers with great sensitivity an incident from last Thursday, when a spotlight dropped from the rafters of San Antonio's Alamodome and crowned a teenage Britney Spears fan. Quoth the doleful duo, "Fortunately, she's OK ... We hope and pray for the injured teen, as well as for Britney, all of her fans, her road crew and backup dancers in this, their time of unfathomable grief. The truly tragic thing here is that something like this could happen to someone as wonderful and giving and kind as Britney. As of this writing, San Antonio police are blaming the incident on Pearl Jam."
Rusty Traps says that the Esquires' regular Monday-night shows at the Crazy Lady are a thing of the past. Traps gives the usual reason for shows going south in summer -- dwindling crowds after the student exodus -- and adds that the band may or may not restart the weekly tradition in the fall. Traps' other band (besides the Nortons), the Rhythm Rats, have a new "best of" disc coming out called Ratrospect, and tonight (Thursday) the Rats will fête that album and their 15-year history at the Hole in the Wall... On the movie front, did you notice that in the blockbuster X-Men, the only actual song in the film is Lucinda Williams' "Still I Long for Your Kiss" during a scene in a bar (all Texas musicians' film music must be in the "bar scene"). The score is available on CD, but for the Williams track, you'll have to go back to your copy of Car Wheels on a Gravel Road... What was the Roman centurion after he went down on his girlfriend? Gladiator! The star of that movie is in town now, and if the whole scene with his band Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts' shows at Stubb's wasn't already a clusterfuck, head over to the club at 1pm today. That's when another 1,500 tickets to Friday night's show go on sale, since it's been expanded from an intimate indoor performance to a full-on outdoor stage spectacle like the upcoming pair of shows by the band over the next two weeks. Existing tickets continue to trade for $150-300 a pair on eBay. Thanks to Russell Crowe and sidemen, it looks like Stubb's will be the last venue in town to have to worry about the Austin music scene's fabled crippling dog days of August... Monday was a banner day for the Computer Sciences Corporation, thanks to disgruntled fans of the late Liberty Lunch. A massive banner reading "Liberty Lunch Lives On. Thanks For Nothing, Kirk Watson" and other epithets appeared on the CSC building's edifice Monday morning. It was removed by 10am, witnesses say... Add one more bass player to the ex-Spoon pile, as Josh Zarbo has quit the band. Spoon-man Britt Daniel says the parting was amicable. "From what he's told me, he just does not want to be in a full-time band right now," says Daniel, adding that Spoon is putting out a 5-song EP Oct. 3, on Merge in the U.S. and 12XU (Gerard Cosloy's new Europe-only label) in the UK, to be called Love Ways. Daniel and drummer Jim Eno recorded the material at Eno's home (using Zarbo's borrowed bass) and mixed it with Craig Ross (him again!). The band also has an album completed and due in January... Another amicable split is the one between Silver Scooter and bassist John Hunt, who will be concentrating on Fivehead, who have a new 45 ("Goodie the Rat"/"Better Part of the Year") out. Hunt already finished recording an EP and album with the Scoots (including new second guitarist/keyboardist Shawn Camp) which will be released in November and January, respectively... Confusion just seems to follow the Meat Puppets around. The Chronicle recently received the band's new Breaking/Atlantic release featuring a bio, lyric sheets, recording information, and the new album. Unfortunately, the new album in question was Rob Wasserman's, not the Puppets'. The confusion wasn't too widespread, luckily -- the butterfingered publicist says at most, six mixed-up kits went out to press folks, all in this area. (Hopefully a particular Statesman writer will realize it's not a conspiracy against him personally!) The album, titled Golden Lies, is still due Sept. 26. Wasserman, coincidentally, will be putting in an appearance on August 25 at Stubb's, and now our Recommended staff already has his Space Island disc to listen to. How con-veen-ient!...
Ph.D.s in "Country Grammar": Christopher Gray, Michael Chamy