Well, it's over at last. George Double- You-all Bush has been announced as the official winner of the President of the United States Sweepstakes, so he's making up for lost time in the fiesta preparations department. As you learned here a couple months ago, Jimmie Vaughan was already guaranteed a spot on the bill at the Inaugural Ball when he played that little garden party over by the Governor's Mansion on Election Night (God, it seems like years ago, doesn't it?), and sure enough, he'll be rocking the blues in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2001, as part of a Lone Star-studded ensemble that's also scheduled to feature Lou Ann Barton, Lyle Lovett, Asleep at the Wheel, Marcia Ball, Reckless Kelly, Gary P. Nunn, and representing Austin's Sixth Street, Duck Soup. In fact, I'm told there are tons of other, lesser inaugural balls going on around D.C. that weekend as well. I'm still not sure whether they're all for Dubya, or whether they're scheduled just in case Al Gore changes his mind about conceding, but tickets (priced $125 and $175) for the officially named "Black Tie and Boots Ball," are already long sold out. Still, I'm sure those of you with the right pull -- and plenty of hard cash ready to be turned into soft money -- will know how to get around that little hurdle.
We couldn't quite make it through the year without marking the passing of another seminal figure in the history of Texas music. San Antonio's Valerio Longoria, 75, Tejano Conjunto Hall of Fame inductee, accordion teacher, and "national treasure" as named by the Smithsonian Institute, died this weekend from lung cancer. "Valerio was a genius [who] left us a lot of standards," said Juan Tejeda, longtime friend of Longoria's and founder of the Tejano Conjunto Festival, in the San Antonio Express-News. Tejeda also hailed Longoria's introducing modern drums and the bolero into the genre, while the New York Times obituary points out that the accordion player brought singing to conjunto as well. Longoria died Friday at a San Antonio nursing home, where he had been moved after a short stay at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital. The accordionist had been hospitalized repeatedly in recent months and had been undergoing chemotherapy. Arrangements are pending at Mission Park Funeral Chapels at 1700 SE Military Drive in SA, and if you'd care to show your concern, a fund has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank at 750 E. Mulberry Ave. (also in SA) to help the Longoria family with funeral expenses.
"Things are still subject to change at this point, of course," says South by Southwest Creative Director Brent Grulke, "but it's looking good, as far as us getting a lot of cool bands." The first batch of confirmed acts for SXSW 2001, to be held in March, has been announced as label showcase contracts are signed and a few other odd names make it though the process early. They're from many lands and many genres, and some of their names are: Bare Jr., Gary Floyd's Black Kali Ma, Brand New Immortals, Brassy (with Jon Spencer's sister), Brian Jonestown Massacre, Laura Cantrell, the Cash Brothers, Australian cult popsters the Church, Amy Correia, Rodney Crowell, Death Cab for Cutie, Dexter Freebish, Jerry Douglas, Johnny Dowd, Frigg A-Go-Go, Reeves Gabrels, Gogogo Airheart, Goudie, the Gourds, Jon Dee Graham, Patty Griffin, Helio Sequence, Hot Water Music, Idlewild, Knife in the Water, Lackey, Sonny Landreth, April March, the Martinets, Rey Washam's new cohorts Marz, cruise captain Delbert McClinton, Shannon McNally, Scott Miller, Jeb Loy Nichols, the Nifters, the Nits, techno pioneer Gary Numan, Maren Ord, Pru, Dee Dee Ramone, Samiam, Scared of Chaka, Bob Schneider, Mark Selby, Sparklehorse, Spoon, Supagroup, Tarbox Ramblers, God Bullies spinoff Thrall, Don Walser & the Pure Texas Band, and Boston-based Rykodisc signees the Willard Grant Conspiracy. Remember, these are just a drop in the bucket -- your band's acceptance letter is probably on the way.
On The Third Day ...
It looked as though the Austin Music Network might well have gone down for the third time this past weekend, as the long-embattled local music-based cable channel 15 spent much of the weekend broadcasting naught but a hand-scrawled note emblazoned with "We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties, Thank You for Watching AMN" taped to a row of malfunctioning video monitors. There's a clause, after all, in AMN's contract with Time Warner that says the massive corporation can come sweeping in to claim the spoils if channel 15 remains off the air for 72 hours straight. "That's part of the reason I put that camera shot up," says current AMN head Woody Roberts, "so we wouldn't be technically off the air, should they choose to enforce that." The channel was off the air from around 10:45pm Friday to Monday just after noon (interestingly, public radio KUT-FM was down to 5% power due to technical difficulties during much of the same period). Currently, Roberts is more concerned with the endless battle of keeping AMN running since he inherited the job from Rick Melchior, who left the AMN "commercial" version in September. Despite the rickety state of channel 15, Roberts is convincing when he says he's optimistic about the station's future, mainly because he talks in terms of reachable goals -- a first for AMN in its long and questionable history. "If anything good has come from this [breakdown]," he says, "it's made the city aware of the state of things here. I know for certain the mayor is aware." Austin Music Commission Chairman Kevin Connor is certainly cognizant of the situation, too. "They're in worse shape than anyone even realized," he worries, wondering aloud how seriously the city is taking its November promises that they "had ways to get things fixed" at AMN. "They're starting to realize the importance of music and the 'Bohemian factor' in Austin again," Roberts says, looking askance at the borrowed equipment that's currently keeping him on the air. "Plus, we're not just here for the music community -- we're here for the video community, and we're also representing the dot-coms, so they know we're going to have to look like the state-of-the-art." That's why, as Roberts keeps the station on the air (usually) with its limited budget (another first!) and waiting for promised new equipment, he's putting his hopes on getting a broadband Web connection that will put the station on the Internet and increase the number of homes receiving its signal up from around 270,000 to a significantly higher number. "If I get my way," he reckons, "by SXSW, AMN will be in four million homes." And by that time, he further hopes, the city will make sure the signal that reaches those homes will not be a pathetic, crippled one. Look for the first step in that direction in January as AMN dips its toes in the cyber-pond by teaming up with webbie organization OutCasters, who will begin recording special shows at Antone's for the Network, the first new full-band performances to air on AMN since 1999 and first non-archive material of any kind since September.
When I said last week that they'd be raising a racket, I didn't know the half of it. Following the Grand Slam Jam Tennis Shoot-Out at the Erwin Center on Wednesday, Lars Ulrich, the Metallica man who originally came to the U.S. for a career in tennis, R.E.M.-er Mike Mills, and a host of others from the celebrity games headed to Antone's. At the venerated blues club, they found themselves forming the whitest blues band ever, with help from Stephen Bruton, David Boyle, and Mike Longoria (pairing up with Ulrich on dual drum kits). The ever-unimpressed John McEnroe was heard to mutter, "What are we, the fucking Allman Brothers? Do we need to play 'Whipping Post,' too?" before leading the band (on guitar and vocals) in what can only be described as a "triple fault" of covers: "Johnny B. Goode," "Purple Haze," and the Lenny Kravitz nuisance, "Are You Gonna Go My Way?" with Jim Courier also on guitar and Mills and Boyle sharing piano duties. Andre Agassi was the smart one of the bunch; he didn't venture anywhere near the stage, instead enjoying the free-for-all from Antone's V.I.P. area. Hey, that's what it's there for! And for the curious, Ulrich, as is de rigeur for rock stars of his magnitude, naturally ended up at a titty bar afterward. Unfortunately the Yellow Rose was pretty much already closed for the night when his party arrived, so the extent of the revelry never really rose above the likes of this snippet of conversation between Ulrich and a Rose employee: "So, what do you do?" "I'm a stripper." "Oh. I'm a rock star."
Austin's live music community loves to give 'til it hurts this time of the year, and benefit events in December tend to be overwhelming successes. The Hole in the Wall's Monkees Hoot Night, for instance, performed its usual Blue Santa magic by providing more toys for needy children than many other such drives by much larger organizations. Meanwhile, the total figures on how much has been raised by fans and loved ones to support former Greezy Wheels fiddler and breast cancer victim Mary Hattersley have yet to be totaled, but friend Eddie Wilson says the silent auction during last week's "Sweet Mary Aid" event and the packages of rare recordings and memorabilia he assembled to go with it have provided quite a hefty sum on their own. One chunk of money was raised in a way Wilson didn't expect. The Threadgill's owner says that when a fiddle signed by all the participants at the night's show, from Shawn Colvin to Jerry Jeff Walker, went on the auction block, he decided he should have it to display at his restaurant. He was met bid for bid, however, by "a burly biker guy" who turned out to have been one of Hattersley's students, and later showed Wilson scars on his hands from smashing in Threadgill's doors -- as the first firefighter arriving at the building when it caught fire in 1982. That competitor bowed out just after the $1,000 mark passed, but Wilson then found himself facing another equally fierce bidder as the amount continued to climb. Finally, Wilson says, as the bid had reached around $1,700, he turned to the unfamiliar man and growled, "I just want you to know that I am going to have that fiddle." Equally determined, the stranger hissed, "Well, I'm gonna get it -- to give to Threadgill's!" After introductions and explanations, the pair decided to kick the bid up to a show-stopping $2,000 and split the difference, with the fiddle now on display in a glass case (hopefully a more secure one than the old one the Broken Spoke used to have for their saddle collection) at the south location of Threadgill's for all to see. At press time, Hattersley was on her way to the hospital for surgery. The Chronicle, and obviously, many of our readers, wish her the best.
Some former Sixteen Deluxe members are willing to let bygones be bygones, it seems. In one of the rare moments he's not busy foisting photos of his new rugrat into unsuspecting faces, Bryan Bowden revealed he's been playing with 16D's Chris "Frenchie" Smith and "the guy who replaced me in the band when I got fired," Steven Hall. Too many drummers spoil the stool, however, so Hall's taking the bass spot in the new combo, called Young Heart Attack... Vacationing Dale Dudley tells me he's just netted another movie role; he'll play a homosexual in Knocked Up, says the he-man KLBJ-FM morning deejay. "I guess now Sister Seven's Wayne Sutton can call me a 'pussy' all he wants," shrugs Dudley... With rumors flying about the future of his Superego, part-time Martian Paul Minor says, "Let me assure you that both Superego and the Free For All are alive and well. I am exhibiting symptoms of classic burnout after hosting the Free For All for six and a half wonderful years. I am hoping to make an exit that will allow both Superego and the FFA to continue independently." Starting in March, Superego will only be hosting the show occasionally with organization chores being taken up on other weeks by either members of the band or special guests. Any volunteers?...
-- Contributors: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser
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