Dancing About Architecture
Don Walser and Willie Nelson come up winners; Sixth Street still not quite dead.
Top Prize for a Top Hand
Don Walser's back from his trip to Washington, D.C., with his luggage a bit heavier than when he left Austin. Walser and his Pure Texas Band left town last week to perform at the Kennedy Center and to receive the prestigious National Heritage Award, along with other recipients including San Antonio's Santiago Jimenez Jr. and Antone's favorite Pinetop Perkins. Despite reports that either President Bill Clinton or first lady Hillary Clinton might do the honors, Walser was instead handed his prize by Lloyd Doggett (who could've just popped by Don's house and brought it along), as well as a letter of commendation from the first couple. Walser doesn't have much time to catch his breath before getting back to work, as he returns to playing around town with a Broken Spoke gig next Saturday and a Waterloo Records in-store next Wednesday for his latest release, I'll Hold You in My Heart (see "Texas Platters" for a review). As far as his accepting the honor, Walser declared, with typical modesty, "I can sing songs all day long, but it won't mean anything without the band!"
Another Texan country legend, Willie Nelson, who's no stranger to receiving awards, is being presented with a trophy on Monday at the House of Blues in L.A. The twist is that he's getting this year's B.B. King Blues Hero Award. To date, Nelson is the fourth recipient of the Blues Hero Award, which was established in 1997 to recognize a blues artist whose career has been characterized by community service and charitable activity. Not that the charity aspect can be questioned, what with Farm Aid and a slew of other philanthropic works, but it's still a bit of a shocker as Nelson's blues debut Milk Cow Blues was a mere week ago! For a review, again, see "Texas Platters"-- or our B.B. King interview in this issue, in which the "King of the Blues" has a few choice words on the "King of the Outlaws."
Sixth Street Live
Every time I'm about to pronounce Sixth Street dead, or at least dead drunk from the presence of shot bars and little else, along comes another blip on the radar to indicate that perhaps things there aren't so inactive after all. The latest place of interest is The Drink, currently being poured into the spot once held by the large corner portion of Maggie Mae's, where cover bands held court on the stage in the window. As of Tuesday night, the space was still mostly barren, but an anthill-like frenzy continued late into the night as a crew of workers buzzed about desperately attempting to prepare the place for what they insist will be a Thursday-night opening. That's right -- this Thursday. In other words, tonight, if you picked up your Chronicle hot off the presses. The new venue is set for a "soft" opening tonight, and a proper Grand Opening a few weeks down the road. Soon, you can also expect to see live original music from local bands on that familiar stage. What genres of music they'll be playing is still a bit unclear, but one source at the club, resting for a second between bouts of hammering and sawing, described The Drink's planned atmosphere as being a "cross between Sixth Street and the Warehouse District." One thing is certain; the few furnishings in place as of Tuesday night were truly impressive and elegant. In contrast, somehow I don't think I've yet mentioned the ugliest live music venue on Sixth Street even once in this column, though it's been open around six months. If you haven't yet checked out the Scrap Bar, at the former location of Aqua, check our listings section to find a night suited to your taste and explore their world of tattered ladies underthings, Muppet piñatas, and the the most unpleasant black velvet paintings this side of a blind man's yard sale. I say find a suitable night, because the charmingly downscale club may feature any type of music from folk to metal on any given night. The club says this hasn't kept them from achieving a regular clientele -- they have Tuesday regulars, Wednesday regulars, Thursday regulars ... you get the idea. Punk rock nights are especially great because if you squint, you'd swear you were back in the Bates Motel! Of course, I can't conclude a discussion of the current state of live music on Sixth St. without mentioning that the huge Metro just concluded their own Grand Opening week, which started with controversy as one of last Thursday's acts, Steamroller, canceled their gig that night after the American-Statesman raised the issue of an unlikely conspiracy by the venue's owners to keep former Steamboat head Danny Crooks from getting back into the club business (which the Metro's owners strongly deny). At press time, the Metro had yet to crumble, and was set to host, among other shows, both Guy Forsyth and Dexter Freebish's CD release parties this Friday. Would it be repetitive to say see "Texas Platters"yet again for reviews on both those albums?
The Fuckemos' Airshow 2000 is apparently ready at last, despite advance copies having been in local jukeboxes for months. Emo's has their record release party Friday, with a proper copy of the disc in their 'box advertising that gig. In fact, an amazing percentage of CDs in the Emo's jukebox now have notes announcing the respective bands' upcoming shows there -- a revolutionary deal if I ever saw one. Now you can preview the club's upcoming acts between bands!... No, Quentin Tarantino didn't originally intend to stay in Austin for an additional two weeks after his 4th QT Film Fest concluded, but stay he did, and besides gorging himself on movies as he's wont to do, Mr. T also took in his share of Austin music during his extended vacation (unlike many Hollywood types who seem to make Sugar's their Austin home-away-from-home!). For those who like to keep track of these things, the Pulp-y Q-ster took in the Orange Mothers and Barkers at the Hole in the Wall, KRS-One and MC Overlord at Antone's, and Candye Kane at the Continental, and besides finding the Mothers' Ethan Azarian amusing (he'd make a great geek in a Pulp Fiction sequel, don't you think?), I hear Tarantino was particularly impressed with performances he saw by Guy Forsyth and Charlie Robison, whose Unleashed Live with brother Bruce and buddy Jack Ingram is out on Lucky Dog this week (see above plugs for "Texas Platters")... Hip-hop fans who've already worn out all their back issues of Vibe will want to check out the first issue of Show and Prove, the new 'zine from local Tee Double (who also spotted Tarantino and Dusk 'Till Dawn dude Robert Rodriguez in his audience recently). Show and Prove sports an events calendar for hip-hoppers, essays, scene chatter, and a review of Tee Double's own TX Resident disc by none other than -- Tee Double! (Ha, instead of "Texas Platters," this time see "Beat Box".) The zine is available at Starseeds and at the Back Pocket (2508 Guadalupe)... The Sexy Finger Champs have their Japan sendoff fundraiser this Saturday at the Red Eyed Fly with Playdoh Squad and Sinis. The band is promising to make Chepo Peña dress in a Sumo diaper and wrestle audience members to encourage more paid attendance. Peña is reluctantly agreeing, mainly because of all the toys and Manga he wants that aren't available outside of the Land of the Rising Sun... Okay, this is weird: After 30 years, tattooed icon Cher is releasing an album called Not Commercial, her first ever to consist of songs she wrote herself. It will be sold via the Internet, and was actually written and recorded in 1994 during one of those Miles Copeland songwriter workshops mentioned occasionally in this column. The setup, you'll recall, is that songwriters such as former castle guests Kris McKay and Kacy Crowley meet and co-write songs under a set of strict time guidelines, only this time, one of Cher's writing partners was Pat MacDonald, formerly of Timbuk 3!... The Chron's Margaret Moser, meanwhile, was a guest on the new Cybill Shepherd show, which is currently pre-taping and will begin appearing in syndication at the beginning of October. The episode she's on also featured Monkees drummer Micky Dolenz, and besides a funny exchange about groupies (what else?), Moser was hanging around the make-up room while he was getting his hair done for the show. Dolenz's hair is thin but not absent, and the way he avoids going to great extremes to deal with it is to simply comb it straight back and hold it there very tightly. He was explaining this technique quite specifically to the hairdresser, and not wanting Moser to think he was being a prima donna, turned to her and said, "It's not that I'm vain about my hair -- I just don't want the light to hit it wrong and blind anyone." He paused for a moment, then turned back and added the kicker: "I can't afford the lawsuit!"... There may have been less than a dozen Texans in the audience, but Rhode Island was well-represented at Antone's Blue Monday this week as Greg Piccolo performed for what is politely called in the biz an "intimate" audience. Attendees Preston Hubbard, Fran Cristina, and Piccolo all played in Roomful of Blues before Hubbard and Christina flew off to be Fabulous Thunderbirds. Also seen hiding in plain sight at the gig was new Austinite James Cotton... Those Peabodys are the latest addition to the family at local upstart label Post-Parlo Records. Look for their debut full-length in mid- to late-November. The CD gets mastered next week, and then it's off to the presses. Look for a release party at Emo's... Chopqper (whose name makes me glad I work in print and not in radio) from the band Kissinger tells me that "despite 500 fliers announcing the CD release at the Flamingo Cantina this Friday, there will be rock, but no CDs" at the show. The delay stems from the band's decision to include their "Rock 'n' Roll Asshole" video and make their disc an interactive CD. The disc-less band will be joined by the Westbury Squares and Ringer, and will screen the video, which was just featured at the North by Northwest film festival (it's pretty funny, by the way). Ironically, the band was also scheduled to play that music fest, but had to pass in order to stay home and tend to CD computer bugs... Speaking of which, so far, I have yet to hear much in the way of excitement from the NXNW Portland returnees. The one recurring story I've been hearing regards the showcase night for Christian rock deathmetal combo label Tooth and Nail Records. Only one of their bands, Living Sacrifice, showed up to play, but rabid fans packed the house, and in one of the more questionable blendings of hero worship and religious fervor, many in attendance got the band to autograph their Bibles!...
-- Contributors: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser