Dancing About Architecture
101X fires program director Alan Smith; Man's Ruin ain't coming back after all.
Florida in My Rearview Mirror
Well, I'm back from my week in the land of tourist traps and boy bands -- Florida -- where the extent of my music-related experience was drinking fruity rum things at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville and being forcibly serenaded by the lady who sings the Red Lobster commercials. I did manage to break the Spider-Man ride at Universal's Islands of Adventure, keeping intact my record of having attractions go bonkers on me in every state where I've attended theme parks (the others being the Star Wars Tours at Disneyland in California and the Rattler at Fiesta Texas). Makes the mosh pit seem like a safe place, don't it? Anyhow, let's see what's been happening back here in Austin.
Not With the Program
After a mere eight months at the station, 101X program director Alan Smith was fired Friday in what was those in the know are calling a legitimate shocker -- even when you consider we're talking about the radio biz, where volatile changes occur suddenly all the time. Sources at the station say that everything seemed smooth on the surface: Ratings were great, next weekend's shows at Auditorium Shores, featuring Vallejo, Pushmonkey,Toadies, STP, and Big Head Todd & the Monsters on Friday, and Cypress Hill, Everlast, Kottonmouth Kings, and Wheatus on Sunday, are likely sell-outs, and the LBJ-S "family" recently placed fifth in the number of nominations for Billboard's Airplay Radio Awards, despite being a microscopic speck compared to some of their consolidated competitors. Apparently, Smith just didn't play well with the other children. "I think he's a very smart programmer," says LBJ-S operations manager Jeff Carroll. "His style was just different from what we were used to in the building." Both sides, in fact, seem remarkably calm about the matter, though Smith says the dismissal was "a total surprise to me." He's already received several employment-related calls, and hopes to remain in the Austin market if at all possible. He also says he doesn't expect the station's attention to local music to flag with his departure. "That's something we were quite proud of." Asked if he'll be attending the Shores show, he says probably not, but only because he expects to be in Nashville to watch station faves Riddlin' Kids work their magic in the studio as they record their debut album for Columbia Records. Carroll says he doesn't expect it to take too long to replace Smith, as he still has his short list handy from eight months ago. Industry magazine HITS got the last laugh on the matter with an online piece titled "Alan Smith, Meet Alan Smithee," referring to the name taken by directors/writers who get their names removed from the credits of a movie. "Due to 'philosophical differences' with management, PD Alan Smith has exited KROX Austin," HITS notes. "No word yet on what the precise philosophical differences were, but some radio insiders say Smith's post-existentialist leanings clashed with the station's strict Aristotelianism."
A few months ago I regaled you with the news that Frank Kozik was returning to Austin with his Man's Ruin label -- or most of it, anyway. Word from the artist was that he and the art portion of the biz were coming back here from its current San Francisco digs, while much of the record company staff was shifting to Los Angeles. Well, those plans have gone the way of the cheap band flier. Man's Ruin rep Janie Wolf says that though the label had been looking forward to the move, "Right now, it wouldn't be the best financial decision." She cites a recent switch in distributors and other various factors as influencing the necessity of staying in SF for the time being. The label does promise, however, that the Fuckemos' long-delayed Air Show 2000 will be out very, very soon. In fact, it was supposed to be out this week, but hit one, hopefully final, snag. You can continue to listen to the advance copy on the Red Eyed Fly jukebox while you wait, and expect to see Kozik and company in town next March for their usual South by Southwest visit.
They've Got the Beat
That pounding in your ears is the distant sound of Austin's most famous imported drummers. Former Frank Zappa sideman Terry Bozzio, who's on the road as usual, has his new album with Steve Stevens and Tony Levin (the latter of whom will be at the Cactus Cafe as part of the California Guitar Trio on September 8-9) out now, and while they've yet to get a deal lucrative enough to make it worth touring ("We're three older guys who need to make a living"), Bozzio continues to do solo shows and is hoping to work with fellow Austinite Pat Mastelotta as guest star on a new King Crimson spinoff project. Iggy Pop/Tin Machine drummer Hunt Sales, meanwhile, is back in town, though only briefly. He's been working with Bootsy Collins in Cincinnati on a Jimi Hendrix tribute among other things, and plans to head back to his old stomping grounds for a while where he and a couple of "hard-core Detroiters" have a new band called Ghetto Gold ready to do some recording. After they get their licks together in the Motor City, the trio may come down and do some gigging in Austin as well.
Texas fiddle great Clifton Lafayette "Cliff" Bruner died Friday at his home in Houston at the age of 85 after struggling with cancer and heart problems. Bruner's sound was influential to the early Western swing sound, particularly in East Texas and Louisiana. Texas Trumpets member Mark "Pat" Patterson also passed away recently; Saturday and Sunday's Fall Jazz Festival at the Zilker Hillside Theatre (see "Music Listings") is dedicated to the memory of another local jazzman, A.D. Manion... It was a banner week for the reaper outside Texas as well, with Jack Nitzsche, co-author of the Jackie DeShannon/ Ramones classic "Needles and Pins," passing away at age 63 from a heart attack, and Gov't Mule bassist Allen Woody found dead due to yet-undisclosed causes at age 44. No replacement is being made for the Mule at the aformentioned KLBJ Shore Thang Friday, so the show will start an hour later than announced... "Dead Man Injured" is the headline that NME online ran for the story on ...And They Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead drummer Jason Reece, who was injured in London at a pre-Leeds Festival gig when their audience mobbed the stage at the end of their show. Reece received four stitches in his head following the incident, and the band went on to play the Fest, unlike fellow Austinites Cotton Mather, who were forced to cancel Leeds and other upcoming shows after frontman Robert Harrison sustained a back injury... If you thought Johnny Goudie wasn't capable of putting up a scrap, think again. His band's current tour started out with what he calls a "rough couple of days," beginning when the exhausted band, despite posting 'Do Not Disturb' signs on their rooms, were repeatedly awakened by the cleaning staff at the Biloxi, Mississippi, inn where they lay their heads. "I threw a bit of a fit in the lobby," Goudie confesses, and police were called to forcibly eject the band from the premises. Later, in Atlanta, "our sound man split while we slept." Jeezis, what did these guys do -- piss off Freddy Krueger?... Fans of the elusive Willis Alan Ramsey might want to pay attention to The New York Times, where a full-page feature last Sunday tracked down the one-album wonder and got him to admit that after 28 years, he might be interested in recording a follow-up -- either consisting of material culled from recent radio performances or possibly a new studio effort produced by pal Lyle Lovett. Look and listen for clues when Ramsey plays the Cactus on September 16... Look for an abundance of free shows coming up at Room 710. Sunday's a good one to start with, featuring Voltage, Ignorance Park, Electric Cock, and Mad Cow... The makers of the anti-Monte Montgomery Web site and the pornographic "Austin Titty Limits" page tell me that they have shut both down due to threats of legal action. Their biggest regret, say the perpetrators in an e-mail to "Dancing About Architecture," was that they never got to put up their George DeVore hate site...There'll be a one-night-only reunion of the Mittens Friday at Stubb's, with Li'l Cap'n Travis along as well... Look for a new EP by Plum titled Piggyback. Says here it should be out in August, so I guess that means now... A Hamer imported Rick Nielsen Signature Model guitar will be raffled off at the Cheap Trick hoot night Saturday at the Hole in the Wall, which features performances from Real Heroes, Melissa Bryan, Cool Hand Band, Media Kreeps, Darin Murphy, Superego, Leprequalm, and the solo debut of Carrie Clark. (Hmm, since Chris "Frenchie" Smith performed as part of the Bedbugs at the recent Cars hoot, perhaps Sixteen Deluxe fans should start attending these tribute shows regularly for the closest thing to a 16D fix). The guitar was played by Ken Bethea at Sunday night's Old 97's show, which did so well that the band returned to the Mercury on Tuesday for a surprise show. The 97's are using the guitar on their studio version of Cheap Trick's "Southern Girls," making for a nice tie-in with the show. The band, by the way, has been recording its follow up to last year's Fight Songs at Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studio, and are finishing up this week, but will be providing a rough mix of the song to play Saturday night. (It probably isn't going to be included on the new album, but the band is hoping to find a home for the song on a soundtrack)... Austin rapper Sabado Gigante has his song "Art of Good Over Demonics" featured in the new Wesley Snipes film, The Art of War, heard during the first fight scene and over the closing credits. L.A. rapper Kung Pao is a guest on the tune. Gigante's first single, "Vote for Gigante," hit stores two weeks ago and "is moving some fairly decent numbers," says the artist. You can find it as a blue vinyl 45 in better local record stores... Jeff Klein's songs continue to run on the WB network's Young Americans series... The Bigamy Sisters' new recording is called Beyond the Ha Ha, and their release party tonight (Thursday) will also be their last show for a while... Finally, it's another first for Fastball, as the local trio revealed the most garish video ever to come from an Austin band on VH1's The Daily One on Monday. The photo seen here from "You're an Ocean" pretty much tells the story, and fortunately, the good folks at Hollywood Records are sending out promotional Harsh Light of Day "sleeping masks" for those who find the video just a bit too much (maybe they should send a set to Goudie, too). Fastball, augmented by guitarist Brad Fernquist (formerly of the New Radicals) and Austin jazz musician Kevin Lovejoy for touring, are currently in the middle of their "Sneak Preview" tour, which apparently includes Dallas but not Austin. I guess they figured we couldn't stand their light...
-- Contributors: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer