Dancing About Architecture

Last call for SXSW entries.

Dexter Freebish and Christina Aguilera gamboling in Las Vegas
Dexter Freebish and Christina Aguilera gamboling in Las Vegas

2001: A SXSW Odyssey

Yep, it's that time again. Applications for musical acts hoping for a showcase at South by Southwest 2001 have a postmark deadline of this Friday, Nov. 17. As usual, last-minute filers can turn in their materials in person, Tuesday at Ruby's BBQ (512 W. 29th at Guadalupe), between 6pm and midnight. At this early date, SXSW hasn't begun to confirm acts for next year's conference, but discussions held recently at New York's CMJ music festival and elsewhere have resulted in proposals by labels from Sony to Sugar Hill, making it easy to guess at some likely attendees -- like most of the roster of Frank Kozik's Man's Ruin label. As we reported a few weeks back, SXSW has already announced that 2001's keynote speaker will be none other than the Kinks' Ray Davies, and Brent Grulke, the festival's creative director, hints that talks are under way with some "legendary country artists." If you're thinking that the conference has outgrown your cool punk rock band and you're wasting time and money by applying, Grulke says that this year's staff, which again includes former Emo's manager Dave Thomson and Trance Syndicate/ Emperor Jones co-conspirator Craig Stewart, displays "a broader range of taste and expertise than we've ever had" and are committed to putting good bands on display come March14-18, 2001, at the Austin Convention Center and on stages throughout town. Grulke asserts that SXSW is "going to pay extra attention to lesser-known Austin acts this year," observing that while there's not much in the way of a predominant "scene" in Austin at this time, there's a large number of talented bands currently "flying under the radar." His goal is to round up as many of them as possible and assure that SXSW 2001 will have "more Austin bands that people will be surprised by," along with the bigger acts to bring those people to SXSW in the first place. Last year's music festival attracted approximately 35,000 music fans over five nights to hear more than 1,000 showcasing artists and solo acts from across the globe performing in over 45 venues, while the conference gathered 8,000 music industry professionals to participate in panel discussions and the trade show. For more information, contact SXSW at sxsw@sxsw.com or call 512/467-7979, or just check out the application in this issue of the Chronicle.

The Rules of Celebrity

If you've been spending all your nights in the doorway at Antone's hoping for a glimpse of Sandra Bullock, keep in mind that the rule for celebrity spotting in Austin is that there are no rules. A few weeks ago at an Egypt show at the Flamingo Cantina, for example, you missed a guest appearance by Johnny Depp, who by virtue of being one of maybe five people in the audience (and no doubt he was there partially due to his and the band's mutual friend Gibby Haynes) ended up strapping on a guitar and joining the local band for an impromptu jam session. More recently, Monday saw David Allan Coe pop in for a surprise guest appearance with Uncle Cracker at La Zona Rosa, and strangest of all, last Friday night at Human Code's party at Stubb's for new parent corporation Sapient, DJ Spooky spun for a crowd of about 1,500 "friends and family," including guest MCs Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson, and Cindy Wilson, aka the B-52's, who were apparently in town for another private affair with the Go-Go's (who were in and out so fast that Kathy Valentine is still apologizing to her friends here for not calling) the next day at the Erwin Center for "friends and family" of Applied Materials. The B-52's joined Spooky onstage for trippy versions of "Rock Lobster" and "Planet Claire," with the meeting of the two disparate acts coming via Sapient VP Mellie Price, who has been friends with the band for years.

The Dead Planet

Jupiter and Mars may be doing all right, but say farewell to Neptunes (what is it with all these planetary music-related businesses?!), the CD store on 1779 Wells Branch Parkway. Owner Grant Cooper says he doesn't have much of a sob story -- he worked in the corporate world until three years ago, and had amassed enough capital to try being his own boss for awhile, so he started Neptunes. "I didn't expect to become a zillionaire," he says, but since the store is pretty much paying its bills and no more, the practically one-man experiment is shutting down when his three-year lease runs out at the end of 2000. "A lot of metalheads will be crying," he says sympathetically, since the store had found its niche in underground metal, and a large portion of its most dedicated clientele are those who like their rock with very hard edges. The store's entire stock is on sale, and will continue to be so until the store shuts down at Christmastime -- assuming no one comes in and buys out the whole inventory before then. That's what happened to Duval Discs, remember -- the store went empty and closed overnight, so fast that neighbors were worried about foul play -- and we hear tales that the same situation was behind the sudden disappearance of the just-vacated CDs and More. Don't expect Cooper to change his name to D.B. and vanish for good, though; after returning to the corporate world to build up his nest egg for a while, he assures that "I've got some more ideas."

Mixed Notes

The Blue Door in Oklahoma City will be the host for the next album by Michael Fracasso and his producer Charlie Sexton, Saturday, Dec. 9. The live concert recording to be made that night will feature Fracasso's folk-tinged songs with Sexton along on various stringed instruments and backing vocals... Those Dexter Freebish guys found someone a little less, shall we say, eclectic, than Yoko Ono to pose with last week at a music industry function they attended in Las Vegas. They spotted Ricky Martin to the left of them, and Christina Aguilera (seen here snuggling with the band) to the right, before eventually coming to the sad realization that they were the only act there that actually played instruments! Dexter's Chris Lowe says that Aguilera was smaller than they expected, but was "cute in a mousy way"... Somehow I can't manage to go two weeks without a Yoko Ono reference in this column, so here's an excerpt from an e-mail update I got from former Austin musician John Paul Keenon regarding what he's been up to since we last saw him in 1998: "I've recorded an EP with Mr. [Sean] Ono Lennon, Half-Horse, Half-Musician, as well as performed with Yoko Ono at a show here in New York in January of this year. We've just recently returned from a tour of Brazil and Argentina with Sean where we opened three shows for Sonic Youth. We'll soon be recording Sean's new material for an album due next year as well as playing some shows in a few select places. (Austin, Austin, here we come)"... Eminent Records, run by former local Steve Wilkison, has signed former local Iain Matthews for the U.S. release of his collaborative album with Elliott Murphy and former local Rosie Flores, who will issue her first album for Eminent in April 2001. Given that Wilkison ran San Marcos-based label Dejadisc during his years in Central Texas, here's hoping that his work with Flores could also result in a proper release for the legendary cassette-only Bubba Cheese EP that she played on, which first introduced the late Michael Maye's much-covered party anthem "BEERRUN" to the world. Hopefully, someone out there knows where the master tapes for the EP have ended up... Add "I Hate Republicans" by the Happytones to that list we've been compiling of songs about, well, hating Republicans. Look for a CD from the band in the near future... When he's not attempting to run me over in the Chronicle parking lot, Britt Daniel continues his string of solo dates opening for Bright Eyes (he's off to New England this week) and compiling e-mails from a fellow in Alabama who claims the right to the band name Spoon. From the latest missive: "Not trying to be mean, but you guys aren't doing anything big -- we are on the verge of making it big -- so we're going to use the name, hope you understand 'cause you really have no choice!"... Meanwhile, Paul Horsley of Austin's small but elegant Propellor Records recently found out that there's another Propeller label, based in New Zealand. According to Horsely, owner Simon Grigg was very nice about the situation. "He said he was actually aware of us and that since he wasn't really using the label much anymore, we could continue using the name." Horsely's been recording a great deal of new material at his new Sluggo Sound Studio in way South Austin ("Bubble Country!" he calls it, though I always thought that was "Bubba country"), including his own Guardez Lou and their various side projects, as well as taping Matt Meshbane's Hoot Nites, so look for a CD of the Rolling Stones hoot by the end of the year, and maybe one of this Saturday's Led Zeppelin hoot at the Metro sometime after that. As with the shows, the CDs will benefit the SIMS Foundation... Speaking of benefits, Vallejo hosts a fundraiser for the Texas Fine Arts Association this Saturday at La Zona Rosa... The Central Texas Bluegrass Association does some hosting of its own this weekend, in the form of their Bluegrass Festival at Old Settler's Park in Round Rock (off Hwy. 79). Featuring half a dozen acts like the Lynn Morris Band, Ft. Worth's Moonlighters, and Texarkana's Twice as Nice, the festival starts at noon Saturday and goes 'til about11pm. For more info, visit www.jump.net/~ctbg/ or call 512/263-7193... Some wave-switching in the surf community: Former Death Valley guitarist Joe Emery is now with the Sir Finks. Meanwhile, the Finks' original drummer Damien Llanes split for Hollywood (the neighborhood, not the label) to drum for Deke Dickerson, so the band has recruited Playdoh Squad drummer Stephen May as well. Coming in December: The Finks play the entire Ventures Christmas album... How did tongue-in-(ass) cheek metal band SINIS, whose promotional materials include condoms, tubes of sexual lubricant, and specially printed "cum towels," get hooked up with a "by women, for women" Web site? Well, the guys in the band "love women, they love promoting women, their beauty, and their sexuality, and they are very respectful of women," says SINIS' press liaison Killer Juggs (not her real name). That plus the fact that the founder of HiddenSelf.com is also the president of the band's fan club. The band will fête their linking with the site with a show this Saturday at the Flamingo Cantina, where they will be joined by Denton's Dixie Witch and Tallahassee, Florida's Syrup. And yes, included in the night's entertainment will be a "deep-throat" contest, MC'd by another locally based Web site, XXXmoviereview.com...

-- Contributors: Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer

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South by Southwest, SXSW, Ray Davies, Egypt, Johnny Depp, David Allan Coe, B-52's, DJ Spooky, Go-Go's, Neptunes, Yoko Ono, Dexter Freebish, Christina Aguilera, Spoon, Sinis

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