Dancing About Architecture
SXSW wristbands go on sale with the news that Dr. Demento will be attending this year's festival. Also, the passing of the Victory Grill's Johnny Holmes, and the expansion of Emo's.
Countdown to SXSW
"Austinites are special people, we all know that. That's why they always get first crack at the wristbands for South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival." So says the press release announcing that wristbands for SXSW 2001 are going on sale (are you ready?) right now! They're at all Star Tickets locations, for $85 (up $10 from last year) in person only, and with a limit of four per buyer. A total of 4,000 are up for grabs today, Thursday, at that price (including tax and service charge) until they sell out or until March 9, whichever comes first. Then they jump to $105 (including tax and service charge). For current information on SXSW, check out the Web site at www.sxsw.com. For more information, contact SXSW at email@example.com or call 467-7979.
Now, one band you won't get in to see with your wristband, or a badge for that matter, is the Cult, who are scheduled to play the private Revolver magazine party during the conference at an undisclosed warehouse. Because the recently reformed band is not part of the music conference and SXSW discourages non-showcasing acts from piggy-backing themselves onto the main event with shows that aren't open to all registrants and the public, both the magazine and festival have been at odds since at least last year when Revolver flew in Guided by Voices for the same party. This year, both parties have agreed to disagree, as it were, with Revolver going ahead with the soiree and SXSW revoking the magazine's press credentials and pulling their publication out of registrants' goodie bag. "We weren't asking them to do anything that our other sponsors won't do," says SXSW Managing Director Roland Swenson, citing agreements with Spin, High Times, BMI, ASCAP, and Listen.com. "They all agree not to do that. The way I feel about it is we want to keep the festival accessible." That may be more than you can say for the party itself at this point, since the Fire Marshal was tipped off about the location and paid a visit there to Stubb's Charles Attal, who is organizing the party for Revolver. "We wanna work with the Fire Marshal to make this happen and I think will," says Attal, who acknowledges that work still needs to be done to the location to get it up to code, while denying rumors that he has accused SXSW of tipping off the authorities. "I'm not accusing them of anything," he said. For their part. Revolver says the conference made veiled threats along those lines last year. "To SXSW's credit they didn't call the Fire Marshal," commented the magazine's executive editor Tom Beaujour, who says the Cult is still not 100% confirmed for the party. "But I don't understand why this is any of their business. This is a private party in a private venue. Like last year, our party goes 4-8pm and doesn't go up against the conference [showcases]." Swenson says he's just afraid of setting a precedent where the Patti Smiths and Tom Waits of the world come to town during the conference but are only accessible to a privy few. "First, if we had that kind of power with the Fire Marshal, we wouldn't have had as much trouble as we've had with them over the years," says Swenson. "Somehow, we've become the villains. We started trying to work this issue out with Revolver, but they want to be rebels, upstarts. Fine, be rebels, but not at our event." Beaujour did not disagree. "We are rock &roll punks. I'll be totally honest. We could have the party like Spin, But we're not Spin. We're upstarts and trying to make a name for ourselves. We're getting a lot of press outta this." So are the Cult, who'll be playing a regular gig at Stubb's Sunday March 18.
Now the fun part: That crazy radio legend I mentioned in last week's column, Barry Hansen aka Dr. Demento, will be coming to SXSW for the Sunday (March 18) spectacular SIMS benefit at La Zona Rosa featuring the Diamond Smugglers, Dung Beatles, Marilyn Rucker, and Spandex aka Rip and Destroy aka Mike Henry's goofy Kiss cover band. The good Dr. will spin novelty tunes between the acts and no doubt other special Demento-friendly guests will pop in as well. (Wonder what the Geezinslaws will be doing that night?) As a Sunday show, taking place after much of the industry crowd has flown back out of town, take note that this should be one of those SXSW moments where the general public should have no trouble getting in to join the fun, whether via wristband or paying at the door.
Last Saturday at the Victory Grill on Austin's Eastside, friends, family, and music fans said goodbye to Johnny Holmes, whose first booking gig was a Grey Ghost performance in Bastrop in 1933 and who 12 years later opened the Victory Grill as first a burger stand and then a music venue. (Not surprisingly, "Victory" was a popular name for businesses in 1945.) Holmes, who was 83 and suffered from Alzheimer's disease, was found in his driveway on Saturday, Feb. 10, dead of hypothermia. James Polk, Matthew Robinson, Donald Jennings, Jerald Blocker, and "house band" the Texas Redemptors celebrated Holmes' life at the club, and the Redemptors' Tary Owens, who points out that Holmes' Cobra Club in Midland/Odessa also was a major part of African-American entertainment history as the westernmost stop on the famed "chitlin circuit," noted that it was "wonderful to see the [Victory Grill] full of people." Owens adds that Holmes' family wants to keep things going and work to put the Victory back on the road to becoming a full-time club, and that he's also working on getting more exposure for the documentary that was made on Holmes and the Grill, which shows on the Austin Music Network and should be rentable from Vulcan Video by the end of this week. (Meanwhile, Furry Freak Brothers artist Gilbert Shelton is working on the cover for the Redemptors' Milagros, due in the next month.) Victory manager Eva Lindsey says that "the only thing we know for sure [about the Grill's future] is that due to its historical designation, it will continue to exist as the Victory Grill," but conjectures that within a few years, the venue will likely be fully revived and restored. Mere months ago, in November, East Austin lost another one of its blues club owners back with the passing of Ira "Bossman" Hill of the East Side Lounge, who gave musicians like James Kirkendahl and the Blues Specialists a place to play on the Eastside. Both men will be sorely missed.
What Price Victory?
Emo's Manifest Destiny
The expansion of Emo's continues apace in an easternly direction (though still on the west side of the highway) with work under way on the space adjoining the existing club on the west, which was most recently utilized by Spiros as an extra parking lot. Owner Frank Hendrix says that as much preparation is being made to the area as is legally possible pending the receipt of the official permits for the space from the city. Keeping with tradition, the 3,500-square-foot addition is expected to be opened to the public officially during this year's SXSW, with plans over the next 18 months to move the main Emo's stage there, along with air conditioning and a new sound system, plus a second story and balcony and -- are you ready for this? -- Emo's will begin serving food along with their drinks and entertainment! We'll let you, um, digest that one while reminding you that tonight's show there is a free one, with Tanworth in Arden, Hope 12, and Adolfo's Reversal.
Remember Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts-mania? Well, the Australians do, and in honor of Russell Crowe and company recording their latest album Bastard Life or Clarity here in Austin amidst the chaotic shows the Gladiator star played at Stubb's last summer, the Aussie label Stomp Records called our town's Waterloo Records and asked them to be the exclusive U.S. distributor for the disc. Yes, that means that the 'loo will literally be the only store in America carrying the Grunts' disc. Wonder if all those crazy people who flew in from around the globe to attend the concerts will all pop back in for a quick shopping trip? You may have to go to their Web site to find 'em, but the SPIN magazine staff picks for the year 2000 were recently released, and two Austin bands were mentioned: Peglegasus' Tired of Adventures was chosen by Associate Editor Jon Dolan as one of the Top 50 releases of the year, while Knife in the Water's Red River made it in the Top10 of at least two lists Finally, the Grammy Awards are a day away at press time (and over by the time you read this). If you can't make it to the Grammys proper, check out the display honoring central Texas Grammy winners at the airport, including such items as Johnny Gimble's fiddle, Doug Sahm's hat, Shawn Colvin's lyric sheets and such. That exhibit is on through May The new name for Hotwheels Jr. is not "Action 15" as reported here last week, but The Action Is. No, I didn't misread a note from the band; as of last week the name was Action 15. Apparently, they squinted at the name and decided they liked the visually similar The Action Is better. Their new CD is titled Blackbelt and will be out in April, with the band having a "cease and desist party" Friday at the Red Eyed Fly to put the old name to rest. All Hotwheels Jr. merchandise will be sold at cost, since it's now all truly "hot," as in illegal Honky have a new album by the name of House of Good Tires coming March 6 on Hall of Records, an L.A.-based label that also released Fear's latest. Honky will be starting a nationwide tour after their send-off show at Emo's on Saturday. After playing SXSW and another local appearance in April, bandleader Jeff Pinkus will be heading to Arizona for roughly six to eight months, with sporadic shows here whenever he visits Speaking of Grammys, we reported a while back that perennial nominee and eight-time statuette winner Ray Benson was starting his own label, and now comes the news that the Canadian-based Madecy label will release The Very Best of Asleep at the Wheel on indie subsidiary Restless Records in late April Orange Mothers fans note that head mother Ethan Azarian is having another one of his in-house art hoe-downs tonight, Thursday, at his lovely abode, 5200 LeraLynne. Paintings, drawings, and refreshments will be served Also tonight, look for Guy Forsyth to revive his original score for Buster Keaton's The General at the Alamo Drafthouse as part of the theatre's stellar silent film series with live musical accompanyment After much time, tribulation, and trouble, Mandy Mercier's Wild Dreams of the Shy Boys makes its debut on her own Wild Cantinas label. Mercier will be at the Cactus Cafe with Shake Russell & Dana Cooper on Saturday to celebrate the album's release Silver Scooter's third album The Blue Law will be out on Peek-a-Boo Records this week, and this Friday at the Ritz Lounge, bassist John Hunt will pull a double shift for one final CD release party before departing for Fivehead full time. This will also be the final non-SXSW show for Palaxy Tracks before they pack up and leave for Chicago It's the (fish)tail end of an era, as the last of Red Lobster's live music gigs in Austin is tonight (Thursday), 6-10pm. The gigs started on August 24, 2000, and some have been quite magical, and I'm sure the last one, at the Anderson Lane location, will be as well. Performer Brian Mullin says that as he understands it, the Red Lobster corporation has decided not to have live music anymore, thanks to "bad taste on some of the managers' part at other locations" (in other words, karaoke), so they decided to discontinue music altogether. Chin up, Brian. Losing a gig in the process of achieving a victory in the fight against karaoke is what we call "going out with honor"
-- Contributors: Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser