Dancing About Architecture
Christmastime comes to Austin.
Santa Claus Is Coming ...
... And hopefully he's not doing it where the old Pocket FishRmen song suggested. Much more refined holiday messages can be seen and heard all around town at this point, however. Public Access and the Austin Music Network have already gotten into the act; I've spotted the Rhythm Rats classic "Here Comes Fatty With His Sack of Shit" and other Christmas videos on both channels already, and inevitably, someone is bound to dig up my own embarrassing Christmas video like they do every December -- though I thought I had all copies of that tape destroyed years ago. As for the more refined stuff I alluded to, Circle of Light is a multicultural holiday production featuring stories, music, and dance from local jazz diva Tina Marsh's CreOp Muse organization. Performances take place at the Austin Lyric Opera's Armstrong Community Music School (901 Barton Springs Rd.) this Friday at 8pm, and Saturday at 2 & 8pm. Artists include Marsh, Randy Zimmerman, Luis Guerra, Chandra Washington, Anna Maria Garcia, Sabrina Cummings, Bill Averbach, Caroline Lyon, Oliver Rajamani, Correo Aereo, Anuradha Naimpally, Tonico Vanalli, Ali Aweusi, Coutinho, Russell Scanlon, Susanna Sharpe, Lauren-Kelly Washington, Amadou Thiam, and more, performing material relating to Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and the Hindu celebration Diwali. It's enough to guarantee you a thumbs-up for the afterlife no matter who the Big Guy turns out to be! The CD of Circle of Light is also available at BookPeople, Waterloo Records, Primadora (next to Magnolia Cafe South), Eclectic, and other local shops. While you're there, look at the wide selection of other local Christmas albums like Dale Watson's Christmas Time in Texas and Dialtone Records' Blue Christmas featuring Ernestine Fuller, Richard Earl, Bells of Joy, and many more. Add the following two discs to your list of Christmas singles this year -- Sparkwood's Sparkwood Christmas and Dexter Freebish's Last Christmas. Sadly, both are on CD instead of those lovely colored vinyl 45s of yore, the latter being a promotional-only single from Capitol. Seems that moments into their major label career, the Freebish guys are already covering a Wham! song (if you take a photo with George Michael, guys, make sure and wash your hands afterwards), but the bonus track is an acoustic version of "Leaving Town," which is nice. Did I mention that VH1 and M2 have officially added the "Leaving Town" video to their current playlist and that the song is currently doing well on Monitor's AC and Top 40 Adult Radio charts? And as far as shopping, this holiday season marks the 25th year of the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, and while the eyes look at pretty, shiny trinkets, the ears can enjoy live music in the evenings beginning at 8pm and on weekend afternoons from 3-5:30pm as the Bazaar runs December 9-24 at the Austin Music Hall. This week's entertainment schedule includes: Saturday Champ Hood & the Troubadors (afternoon), and Willis Alan Ramsey (evening); Sunday Johnny Gimble/ Heather Wiley (afternoon), and W.C. Clark (evening); Monday Loose Diamonds, Tuesday Reckless Kelly, Wednesday Rick Trevino, and Thursday Jimmy LaFave. Also for the eyes, in a combined celebration of the Bazaar's silver anniversary and the memory of the Armadillo World Headquarters, beginning at 1pm this Saturday, Armadillo poster artists Jim Franklin, Guy Juke, Micael Priest, and Kerry Awn will join forces to begin creating a mural at the Austin Music Hall as the Bazaar opens for the holidays. The resultant collage is also intended to serve as a tribute to Mary Hattersley.
Keeping Abreast of Benefits
"Sweet" Mary Hattersley, local fiddle teacher and matriarch of the Austin music scene, found out she had breast cancer in August. On December 10 at La Zona Rosa, Kinky Friedman and Hattersley's friends, fans, students, family, and well-wishers present "Sweet Mary Aid" to help pay the high costs of her medical treatment. The epic-scale show includes appearances by Asleep at the Wheel (who are everywhere at all times), Shawn Colvin, Jerry Jeff Walker, Marcia Ball, Kelly Willis, Gary P. Nunn, Willis Alan Ramsey, Austin Lounge Lizards, Mojo Nixon, Paul Ray, Derek O'Brien, Double Trouble, Bruce Robison, Jim Franklin, Kerry Awn, the Geezinslaws, Damon Bramblett, Gulf Coast Playboys, A-Town, Red Eye w/ Bart Trotter, High Rollers, Manchaca All Stars, Wali Stopher, the Blazing Bows, plus Alvin Crow, Danny Levin, Darcy Deaville, and Amy Farris. Food will be served by Threadgill's, whose Eddie Wilson is producing a commemorative Sweet Mary package of rare photos, posters, and a CD of Hattersley's legendary all-day Thanksgiving '72 jam at the Armadillo World Headquarters with the Grateful Dead, Doug Sahm, and Leon Russell. These packages will be on sale at the event, and the proceeds, of course, go to the Sweet Mary Fund. Sadly, Hattersley's malady is far from rare. Expect breast cancer benefits in the near future for other women in the local arts community, though organizers of those events have opted to not begin seeking publicity quite yet so as not to detract from Hattersley's plight.
No Talk Stink!
A little more detail on the so-called "Black Album" by the Skunks, discussed in the feature on the band in this issue. So far, says producer Joe Gracey, though the matter has been discussed recently, there is no release date at this time for the CD version. "I would like to release it someday, and we have all talked about doing it," he says, "but that's as far as it has gone." Currently, Gracey is working on the Bobby Earl Smith Rear View Mirror CD release, as well as on the new Kimmie Rhodes book release of The Amazing Afterlife of Zimmerman Fees, which Gracey says "combines a Kimmie novella with 80 of my recipes, if that makes any sense." Both items hit the streets very shortly, exact dates to be announced. Rear View Mirror is on Smith and Gracey's Muleshoe Records, and Rhodes' new book is the first project of their Sunbird Press. Kimmie and son Gabe Rhodes are hard at work on her next album, tentatively titled Love Me Like A Song, expected in late March or early April, again on the Sunbird label.
Like I said above, Asleep at the Wheel is now officially omniscient. Look for the Wheel to roll into The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn Dec. 12 on CBS, where they'll play the R&B chestnut "Christmas In Jail" (for which the band once issued promotional three-minute phone cards for those times when you need such a device for your "one phone call")... I've been hearing rumors from several sources claiming that missing Metro club owner Paresh Patell had reappeared quietly. Unfortunately, there seems to be no basis for these rumors; representatives for the Metro say that there has been no recent news, good or bad, to report in the case. The Austin Police Department has nothing to add to their previously issued statements either, simply telling "Dancing About Architecture" at this time that "We're still working on it"... Despite radical changes on the club scene the last year or two, it looks like South by Southwest won't have too much trouble filling out their quota of venues this year. Though we know they won't have a new Steamboat or Liberty Lunch to launch, new additions to the SXSW club lineup for 2001 include the Metro, Momo's, Room 710, plus the Drink and the Living Room, which are the lower and upper floors of the same building on Sixth, but have completely different addresses. SXSW 2001 now counts 41 venues on their confirmed list, with hopes of getting nine more to reach the even 50 they boasted last year. There are no plans to go beyond that number any time soon, however. "We've really reached our peak," says SXSW's Dave Thomson. "I mean, how many freaking bands can you see in five days?" The conference's next brochure goes out in two weeks, at which time SXSW hopes to begin getting some label confirmations, meaning that soon after, "Dancing" will hopefully start getting some names of performers for next March's music festival to pass on to you... Out now is Roger Waters' In The Flesh, a 2-CD live set from recent shows featuring Doyle Bramhall II on guitar (and some nice photos of him on the inside). If you like to see what you're listening to as well, keep an eye out for the DVD version... Rumors of Guy Forsyth signing to Island Records are premature, apparently. "Um, he's on an island -- he's in the middle of a Japanese tour," says manager Kevin Wommack. Following his current album for Antone's Records, Forsyth's future -- label-wise -- is up in the air. Nor is there any positive word on whether he'll be back in the States to attend the big Christmas show by his former bandmates the Asylum Street Spankers at the Scottish Rite Theatre on December 15... After returning from their second European tour, Pop Unknown are taking time off to write their next album, which will be recorded with Ed Rose in Kansas City, Missouri, this spring (2001). Watch for them at the Metro this Saturday with Schatzi, who opened for Papa Roach last week at the Austin Music Hall and whose Death of the Alphabet EP is out now, along with Dallasites Doosu and Red Animal War... Hollisters catch-up time: Recent/new members in the band include Chris Miller, lead guitarist, who joined after original guitarist Eric Danheim left for Seattle; Tom Lewis, drummer formerly with the Wagoneers, Junior Brown, Hank Thompson, Johnny Bush, Connie Smith and Redd Volkaert; and newest member Eddie Perez, a bassist who hails from L.A. and has played with Jim Lauderdale. The current lineup is getting ready to record a new CD and hopes to have it out by March or April. They'll also be recording some upcoming live shows and traveling to Europe in March to play a festival in Holland... India Records continues their regular weekly showcase at Momo's every Tuesday night at 9:30pm with Dewato, Kitty Gordon, Jeff Klein, and Will Sexton, whose new album from the label is due December 15 and is pre-orderable at www.indiarecords.com. This week's special guests are Superego, with Drunken Elves and Sheridan the following two weeks, respectively... Sage Gentlewing's Twelve Degrees of the Heart is getting airplay in Belgium, Holland, Ireland, and Australia, as well as Fredricksburg's KFAN, and "a few hipper outbound" stations in Texas. The Wing-man says, "I'm sandwiched between Alan Jackson and Dwight Yoakum, which is amazing since I'm not even close to country."... Since his former label Rising Tide went under, Delbert McClinton has been getting "offers from majors, offers from indies, offers galore," according to publicist Cary Baker. Well, here's what's come out of the dust of all those offers: Semi-Austin-based New West Records, home to Shaver, Stephen Bruton, Jon Dee Graham, Slobberbone, Jim Roll, and Tim Easton has announced the signing of the legendary roadhouse rocker to the label, giving a March 6, 2001 release date for the currently Nashville-based dweller's Nothing Personal, which is produced by McClinton and Gary Nicholson and includes special guest appearances by Iris DeMent, Benmont Tench, and Bekka Bramlett. McClinton, as I'm sure you know by now, played harmonica on Bruce Channel's hit, "Hey Baby," and while touring with that artist in Europe, taught a few harp licks to none other than John Lennon of the then-unknown Beatles, who later incorporated the sound on their No. 1 single, "Love Me Do." With the 60th anniversary of Lennon's birth having just passed and the 20th anniversary of his death upcoming, no doubt McClinton is gritting his teeth and preparing for endless retellings of that tale on his upcoming Caribbean cruise, which was covered in last week's "Dancing." So, Delbert, when do I get a picture of you and Yoko Ono for the column?
-- Contributors: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Margaret Moser