Dancing About Architecture
Ritalin Kids sign a record deal; Steve Wertheimer gets wet all over.
Riddle Me This!
A few issues back, I told you that locals the Ritalin Kids were getting close to signing a label deal, and now the ink has dried. The Kids have cut a deal with Columbia subsidiary Aware, and come Monday, they'll be in a Memphis studio with Paul Ebersol, producer of the current No.1 smash by 3 Doors Down. How did the band get the deal? Well, to start with, says drummer Dave Keel, they "brought a CD up [to local radio station 101X, who also broke Dynamite Hack] and started annoying the hell out of them until they played it." The label became aware (pardon the pun) of them after the band started getting increased airplay at the station, and boom -- it was contract time. The Kids found themselves with one problem, however -- no label with a decent lawyer is going to take on a band with a moniker that contains the name of a copyrighted product. Thus, when you go see them play this Saturday at the Back Room with Dynamite Boy and Rubberhed, you'll actually be witnessing the first performance by the newly named Riddlin' Kids. That is, of course, assuming they don't get sued by Frank Gorshin before then.
"It was a wet weekend," sighs Continental Club owner Steve Wertheimer, well on his way to developing an aversion to water that would rival that of W.C. Fields. First, he got caught in a sudden storm on the way to do a magazine interview at the Houston Continental on Friday ("The kind Houston is famous for," he notes). That wouldn't have been a problem, except he was driving his Black Dahlia, a classic -- and topless -- hot rod. Things went fine at the club that night, but during the sold-out second show of the Elvis tribute on Saturday, things finally came to a head when a broken water main that the city had left untended for two weeks, combined with constant flushing of the toilets in the packed house, led to a sudden overflow of unpleasant liquids into the venue's interior. Finally, as if to prove that the water sprites really were out to get him, Wertheimer returned home to Austin on Sunday to find that a mechanism in a second-floor toilet at his home had broken, leading to an overflow that begun caving in his ceiling, which fortunately set off his burglar alarm, therby attracting attention to the problem before more damage was done. "I'm starting to wonder if there's a dark cloud over me," says Wertheimer, adding, however, that "there's always a silver lining," for the Houston club at least: A city council member and his wife attended the Elvis gig, and once her shoes got soaked, the problem was solved. The council member made sure the water main was finally fixed the next day.
For the Record (or Is It CD?)
"His musical fathers are John Mellencamp and Matthew Sweet" says the German version of Rolling Stone of George DeVore. Makes me want to meet his mother, but you may want to stick with looking out for his new album Wonderland, due out September 22. The Wannabes have a new album of old material (or is that a reissue of new material?) coming out this Tuesday on Plethorazine Records. Decade of Moral Fumbles: 1990-1999 continues the recent trend of combative local releases, in that the disc itself is emblazoned with the legend "Why aren't you listening to the Scabs like everyone else?" The release party is next Friday, August 25, at the Hole in the Wall. Keep your eyes open for Bill and Bonnie Hearne's new release on Back Porch Records, Watching Life Through a Windshield. If you think the title is unusual for an album by a legally blind couple -- an album of driving songs, no less! -- check out the back-cover photo of the two former Austin residents tooling down a dirt road in a classic Pontiac convertible. And no, they don't cover ZZ Top's "Arrested for Driving While Blind." Warner/Reprise's Bill Bentley says he's happy to say that the couple's Warner Western LP from a couple of years ago, Diamond in the Rough, is still in print and available in stores. That's more than he can say about the much-delayed (and much-mentioned in this column) Return of Wayne Douglas album by the late Doug Sahm. Though I've got a copy in front of me right now to prove they exist, Bentley's Tornado Records is still in negotiations with Sahm's estate, which is what's keeping the discs from landing on record-store shelves. Bentley's official comment on the matter is a quote from Sahm's song "Yesterday Got in the Way": "It's in the stars, it's out of our control." Willie Nelson's two-hour Live by Request special on A&E went off without a hitch Tuesday night, with Kris Kristofferson among those who called in to request a song on the air, and for those of you who missed it, the show reruns on Friday at midnight, and again Saturday evening at 8pm. The show ties in with the release of Milk Cow Blues by Willie and his blues band September 19, but also finally led to news that Nelson's long-delayed reggae album should finally see the light of day sometime next year. In a Rollingstone.com interview relating to the A&E special, Nelson revealed that "it kind of got put on the back shelf. But now Don Was and I are going back to Jamaica in November to finish it and put [Bob] Marley's son and some of the Wailers on it, and do it up right." Eric Johnson's local blues band Alien Love Child, meanwhile, have their own album release on the boards, with Live and Beyond scheduled for release October 24 on the Favored Nations label (owned in part by the local guitarist's G3 buddy, Steve Vai). You're wondering whatever happened to Johnson's Capitol deal? Well, the live blues album is a separate issue, but manager Joe Priesnitz says Johnson and Capitol "parted ways during the last regime change, about the time the Butthole Surfers were having their problems there." Johnson's next studio album is in the works, Priesnitz adds, and it's still undecided who will put it out... Former local boy Lee Ving is getting a reputation for being the most predictable album namer since Greg Kihn, and it's well-deserved; his band Fear has yet another album out now with a title celebrating suds. American Beer is out on L.A.-based Hall of Records, who have also taken over pressings of his previous effort on Austin's Sector 2 label, Have Another Beer With Fear. Monroe Mustang have the most annoying album title (at least when it comes to typing it) in recent memory with DeAvonden091099, coming from Jagjaguwar Records September 11. It's a live-in-the-studio radio broadcast from the Netherlands, where the band traveled last fall for a big festival of some sort. "I am in fact back in the Label Mogul mode," says Joe Gracey, since he and Kimmie Rhodes released her Rich From the Journey CD on their own label. Gracey says he's planning on more releases soon, one of which might be a CD reissue of the Skunks' self-titled album (not the one with the purple cover) that received little distribution when it was released during the band's early-Eighties existence. Gracey says that project would require permission from all the band members, and since not all of them even know about the project, there's no certainty that it will happen. The will be a Skunks album out soon, however. Jesse Sublett says that a live effort is due on CD. "It's about a month or two away," says Sublett of the release, which contains the band's first single, "Can't Get Loose," and "Earthquake Shake" along with some blazing 1980 performances by the band. Hopefully, those live performances will remind people of how good the Skunks were, says Sublett, as "our records always sucked."
As the Crowe Flies
Maybe it's all this talk of potential riots at the Republican and Democratic conventions that's doing it, but something in the air is certainly making music fans awfully active lately in fighting back when their favorite icons are attacked in the press. Recently I reported about sometime Chronicle contributors Jason Cohen and Michael Krugman taking heat from the "Jamily" for comments they made about Pearl Jam in their Rollingstone.com column. Now comes word that the Austin American-Statesman's Chris Riemenschneider (hereafter referred to as "R" to save me from carpal tunnel syndrome) has been taking an e-beating over his negative review of the first Stubb's show by Russell Crowe's band Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts. R claims he's received about 20 e-mails from Crowe fans calling him a cruel, tasteless idiot, another from Arlyn Studios' Lisa and Freddy Fletcher (where the Grunts are recording) saying they're embarrassed he didn't support the band, and a phone call from the group's manager to Statesman higher-ups. The review further earned some choice words from Crowe himself at the second show -- something to the effect of carrots and proctology. "You don't have to worry about giving Johnny Goudie's band a bad review," laments R, "but what about when it's somebody well-versed in decapitation?" That second show, by the way, failed to draw, well, any of the expected celebs -- maybe all the Big Names are waiting for the Grunts' final sold-out show this Friday. As the band's pre-show Aussie comedian (who did the usual "visiting comic" schtick of observations about Austin, despite the fact that the bulk of the audience had never been in the city before that night) notes, the Grunts' shows draw thousands of women and a few gay guys. Ironically, most of the females I knew at the show are lesbians, and yes, they all gave the same excuse: "I'm only here because my girlfriend made me come!" Crowe was also seen at the Scabs' show last week, keeping his bum away from guitarist Adam Temple, who attempted to do the night's traditional "ass solo" upon it.
Bruce Robison should be set for life, if in fact the duet of his "Angry All the Time" that was recently recorded by Faith Hill and Tim McGraw makes it onto an album. "I hear they're doing it live," he says hopefully. He's already got a song on Lee Ann Womack's current album, and that don't hurt, either. Robison notes also that his brother Charlie Robison is "on fire," about word that his label is ready to bump that Robison brother up to the next level of stardom... The mystery is finally solved! After years of speculation about where Preston "we thought you wuz dead" Hubbard had gotten off to (including an ad placed in the Chronicle classifieds by his mother pleading for information regarding his whereabouts), he's back from the grave. Well, not exactly the grave, but from a stretch in prison where he did time for possession of heroin. Unlike previous trips to the big house, Hubbard decided to kick his 18-year drug habit and has been clean for well over a year. Now that he's term-free and habit-free, expect to see the former Fabulous Thunderbirds bassist playing around town... Don't miss the Jeff Buckley tribute/gathering at the Mercury that night from 6-9pm... The Fall 2000 season of the Live Oak Coffeehouse Concert Series starts Friday at 7:30pm with performances by Eliza Gilkyson and Michael Fracasso. The concert will be smoke-free and alcohol-free, and gourmet coffee and pastries are included in the price of admission... If your squeeze box has been getting rusty, run on out to the Accordion Kings festival in Round Rock next weekend, August 26. Geno Delafose and Eve Ybarra y su Conjunto will provide the squeeze plays in Old Settlers Park beginning at 8pm... Add the Do It Now Foundation to your list of bands who have started up their own country offshoot (that's getting to be a long list!), with High Horse set to perform a debut show at the Broken Spoke on Tuesday. Wonder if they've got a song called "Yellow Rose of Vermont"?...
-- Contributors: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser