Dancing About Architecture
Monte Montgomery hooks up with big-time booking; Texas Music Group has big plans.
The Full Monte
Is now a good time to be Monte Montgomery? You decide: He's just hooked up with Vision International, the booking agency credited for launching the touring careers of Dave Matthews, Widespread Panic, Phish, Blues Traveler and others. Actually, since he signed with the high-profile booking concern, the local guitar sensation has already begun touring nationally this summer with upcoming tour dates throughout the Midwest and Southeast, though he'll be playing his birthday gig here in town on Friday at Antone's. Montgomery's got some changes going on as well; longtime drummer Phil Bass is retiring from the road to be with his family, with Friday being his farewell performance as well as the debut for replacement Rob Hooper, who's played with Barbara K, Mary Cutrufello, Ta Mere, and both of the JDG's -- Jon Dee Graham and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Those who haven't seen Montgomery play for a while will also notice a new bassist in the person of Steve Bernal (Trish Murphy, Joe Rockhead, Billy White Trio, Ingrid Karklins, Poi Dog Pondering), who joined the band in April. And since it's his own show, Montgomery won't have to wait stageside for someone to let him do a guest solo. So what could be bad about being Monte Montgomery at this time? Well, while most every band has their own Web site these days, as of this week Montgomery became the first Austin musician (to my knowledge, anyhow) to become the focus of his own special "anti-Monte" web site as well! Visitors to http://www.nomonte.cjb.net/ can find a list of complaints, jabs, and general moans and groans about the guitarist, from "I think Monte is obnoxious," to "I saw him on Austin City Limits once [and] I shot my TV. It's bad enough that Eric Johnson is out there." In the few days since its appearance, the site has already attracted at least one Montgomery defender as well, who declares that the other contributors to the site should "have the balls to name yourself if you're going to take so much time player hating." Alas, Montgomery's 15 minutes of defamation may already be up, as the creators of the "NoMonte" site have already turned their attention to a new project: www. austintittylimits.cjb.net. Though their initial offering on the site, which promises an obviously fake pornographic photo of an Austin musician every day, opened with a shot of Montgomery and "Tush Murphy," the focus has since shifted to other local talents like "Abra More" and "Kelly Will-is." Warning: This is some mighty sleazy stuff, and definitely not for the kiddies. (They have their own Web sites!) Just be glad you didn't see the version of the bogus Willis they sent me before they cropped it!
Three Times a LabelLet's see now -- where were we last time we spoke of Antone's Records? As I recall, former Watermelon Records czar Heinz Geissler had just been named the new manager of the label, which was set to announce an additional label spin-off. This week, the plot thickens with the announcement of the formation of the Texas Music Group, described in a press release as a Ryko-distributed, Austin-based independent record company that "builds on the success of Austin's two most-prominent indie labels of the 1990s -- Antone's Records and Watermelon Records -- to create a new, dynamic, and multi-faceted record company." The Texas Music Group, headed by CEO Randolph Clendenen with Label Group Manager Geissler and international head Eddie Stout, is an umbrella company, consisting of the aforementioned Antone's label, Lone Star Records (described as "a label devoted to exposing the best roots country acts and singer-songwriters from Texas and elsewhere"), and last but not least, Tres Mojitos Records, "a new label that will mine the rich musical heritage of Cuba as well as showcase the finest Cuban music being made today." TMG plans to start releasing product right off the bat, with initial album releases including the August 22 Antone's Records release of the new album from Texas rhythm & blueswoman Barbara Lynn, Hot Night Tonight; plus Pinetop Perkins' Live, Volume 1; and Cliff's Picks, an anthology of blues from the Antone's legacy hand-picked by Clifford Antone. On September 12, Lone Star Records will join the fray with two albums from Texas legend Johnny Bush, Lost Highway and Johnny Bush Sings Bob Wills. On September 26, Guy Forsyth releases his latest Antone's album, Steak, with Damon Bramblett releasing his debut album for the label later that month. In October and November, look for new albums from Lazy Lester, an album of previously unreleased material from Sue Foley's Antone's blues years, and a new album from Toni Price. The next major project from the TMG will be a reissue label, yet to be named, that's expected to begin reissuing classic albums by 2001.
Boxed but Not Forgotten
Remember the fabled, oft-delayed Stevie Ray Vaughan box set? Well, according to a Sony representative, "I think we're done." The box is expected this fall, the exact date still to be determined, but Jimmie Vaughanmanager Cory Moore confirms the set will be ready by pre-Christmas gift-giving time. No one is talking details yet ("We're still playing around with names for the box," says the source), but Moore intimates that, especially with brother Jimmie in a position of some authority, the box is expected to be a quality product across the board. "After all," says Moore, "you only get one chance to get it right when the artist is deceased." Meanwhile, SRV junkies can keep satisfied with the existing albums, imitators, and that commercial for the Nissan X-Terra that uses Stevie's version of "Voodoo Child" for its music bed. (Did they say SRV or SUV?) Life goes on for the surviving Vaughan brother, of course, and Jimmie's plans for his own career include going into the studio at the beginning of September to get the ball rolling on his next album, due for a spring 2001 release on Artemis Records.
As the (Russell) Crowe flies, Austin is now one for three, with the first of the trio of Stubb's shows by the Aussie actor's band Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts having come and gone. Media circus-wise, it was something of a letdown, as the mostly local audience ("a typically laid-back Austin crowd," is how Stubb's manager Charles Attal describes the scene) came, saw the show, and left -- though People, USA Today, Rolling Stone et al. had their people in attendance. The show was filmed for a documentary (see the Crowe interview in Music -- one of two interviews he granted for the events), but it's the next two Fridays' gigs that are ripe for celeb-spotting. Rumored to be attending are Meg Ryan, Francis Ford Coppola, and Jodie Foster... Condolences to friends, fans, and family of drummer A. D. Mannion, who passed away last Wednesday following a four year-battle with liver cancer. "Dancing About Architecture" will pass along info on any memorial/benefit shows as we hear about them... The latest Austin-area band to sneak onto a major label is Houston-to-San Marcos transplants Blue October, whose debut for megalabel Universal comes out this week. The quintet's Consent to Treatment hits stores on August 15, two days before the band's big local show at La Zona Rosa next Thursday... I'm told that this Sunday's New York Times Magazine will include an article discussing the current state of the Austin music scene, and how the city's tech boom is affecting local musicians and artists. Among those interviewed is Lance Fever of the Playdoh Squad... Told you in last week's packed column that the Rhythm Rats have a new "best of" collection out. I didn't have time to add that also new from the band is Blues After Hours, an all-blues disc (duh!) featuring their work with Clifford Scott and Jon Blondell. Ratman Will Indian says there's yet another album on the way from the band as well, but it wasn't quite ready in time for the release of the other two. Best not to saturate the market, as anyone knows who's ever smelled a wet rat... Since I've raved before about what a great atmosphere the Flamingo Cantina has during the day, it wouldn't be right for me to not mention that most rare of events, a daytime show at the club, this Sunday. Actually, that day's hardcore festival runs from 1pm all the way up to 2am, with a grand total of 11 bands including a trio of bands from NYC, Denied, the Disciples, and Dead on Impact. Check their ad for the full lineup... Sage Gentle Wing says he's now a member of the "Real Hard Working Musicians' Hall of Fame," but he's not happy about the dues he had to pay: having his only guitar, a rare Landola spruce top mahogany side cutaway acoustic, stolen out of the back of his truck along with several hundred dollars worth of additional equipment, two Wednesdays ago on Fourth Street between midnight and 2:30am. Guy Forsyth has stepped in to loan the man an axe for now, but if anyone hears of the whereabouts of this guitar, e-mail email@example.com. Says Wing to the bird that flew off with the gear, "You didn't just steal equipment, you stole a man's livelihood, [and] his 'sound.'" Says "Dancing About Architecture" to everybody out there in the Austin music community: Keep watching each others' backs -- I don't want this column to turn into a "theft of the week" page... Jeff Klein notes that his song "5 Good Reasons" was featured on the TV show Young Americans last night, marking, coincidentally enough, the fifth time Klein's music has been heard on national television... Next year is the 20th anniversary of the Judy's classic Washarama album, and David Bean says he's planning a special, limited edition multi-CD package to celebrate. Says Bean: "On one CD I plan to have a Washarama tribute album with other artists covering it song-for-song. Currently, I've got a pretty varied group of 'yeses,' including the Muffs, Pushmonkey, and Lisa Loeb!" The Judy's songs continue to be popular cover choices among Austin bands onstage, from the Peenbeets' version of "All the Pretty Girls" to Dynamite Hack's cover of "Grass Is Greener"... Wanna hear the result of the studio session that kept Willie Nelson from appearing at the pre-Picnic press conference at South Park Meadows? Well, the soundtrack to Space Cowboys is out, featuring Nelson's take on Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years" and the old standard "Young at Heart"... Oops: Due to a communication breakdown, we ran a review of Michael Hall's new album Dead by Dinner a couple of issues ago, though the disc itself won't actually be commercially released for another few weeks yet. So stop hassling your local record store clerk, and I'll remind you about it as soon as it's actually available. Deal?
-- Contributors: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser