It's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye, they say, and that's as good a phrase as any to describe the last week in "the Live Music Capital of the World." Our fine city and its music have been all over the TV, from Junior Brown on Saturday Night Live and an auction of letters by Janis Joplin on CNN to some Armadillo World Headquarters posters on the Austin edition of Antiques Roadshow. The biggest national news from Austin, of course, came via the riot on Sixth Street late Saturday night, as the Austin Police Department clashed with Mardi Gras partygoers at bar closing time. As was reported nationally, close to three dozen people were arrested in the wee hours of Sunday morning as the APD's attempts to clear the streets with pepper spray and billy clubs were met with resistance, and chaos followed that put a number of people, including a back-stabbing victim and one policeman, in the hospital. Numerous partyers in attendance have claimed that the police were largely responsible for the rioting due to their overzealous treatment of the situation. Friends of Sixth Street's Mark Shaberg says that from his rooftop vantage point, it appeared that the APD's crowd control plan was based on "adding friction to friction," and as a result it "was set up to fail." The APD denies any excessive behavior and says the crowd began rushing them as they moved in on horseback to break up a fight (oddly enough, I saw them pull off the same move without a hitch the night before). As a result of the late-night fracas, the traditional Fat Tuesday parade was canceled (and if that doesn't make sense to you, you're not alone -- business owners on Sixth were also baffled), leaving people with useless, half-finished floats, families with no Fat Tuesday outing, and just as many late-night drunks on the street anyhow. One victim of Saturday night's chaos was in a local hospital at press time in danger of losing an eye. The young man, who told local television news reporters that he was not among those causing trouble that night, was hit in the right eye by what is suspected to have been one of the APD's rubber bullets. Since the incident, some 15 businesses on Sixth Street have been pooling a percentage of their Mardi Gras profits toward the victim's medical bills in a gesture of goodwill via the Friends of Sixth Street organization. Meanwhile, over on Red River, everyone had a great time. (For more on the riots, see "Technical Difficulties," p. 16.)
"You know what? It turns out we didn't have to tear down Liberty Lunch after all! Gosh, but we feel foolish!" Okay, so the folks at CSC haven't issued a press release with the above statement, but they should have, because that's the facts, Jack. The high tech firm has said that for the time being, it only actually needs one of the two buildings that it has built on the once-hallowed ground on and around where the beloved nightclub stood, and will be leasing out the other structure (but not to any nightclub owners, I'm sure). As you probably know, the idea that the city would actively aid and support opening Liberty Lunch in a new, improved facility on the Stubb's lot turned out to be a big blast of hot air, and that club owners J'net Ward and Mark Pratz have simply had to go on with their lives with non-music-related occupations in the education field. Meanwhile, as the dot-com bomb continues to implode, Intel has announced that it will be leaving unfinished one of its planned buildings in the same area. Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20, but at least if Liberty Lunch was still standing, the increasing numbers of laid off software workers would have somewhere to go to get drunk and forget their problems. Look for complete coverage and updates on the downtown debacle in our Politics section in upcoming weeks.
Expect to hear the first from Lucinda Williams' new Nashville-based Mercury imprint Lost Highway on the radio March 27. "Essence" will be the first single from her upcoming album, Broken Butterflies, co-produced with Charlie Sexton, who also plays on the album, with basic tracks produced by Bo Ramsey. Lost Highway also has tentative plans to put out Pneumonia, the unreleased Whiskeytown album from Ryan Adams, in April. As far as Williams' album, Broken Butterflies is slated for a May 22 release, and in addition to the above-named single includes new originals such as "I Envy the Wind" and "Blue." No word yet as to who will be accompanying her onstage during the Austin Music Awards extravaganza and subsequent Friday night showcase, also at the Austin Music Hall. On the South by Southwest front, the conference has finally announced that Saturday's free, Outdoor Stage show at Waterloo Park will include San Francisco jam band the Disco Biscuits, with the rest of the lineup still in flux. Out of flux, meanwhile, is Chile's famed Kraftwerk cover band Señor Coconut, who is out of the music festival lineup thanks to visa problems and troubles with international communication. The whole Cult debacle seems to have ended with them still playing Revolver's private party, which is now at Stubb's the Saturday of SXSW. The real, unanswered question in this whole rigmarole, however, is why we're even discussing a band that should be long forgotten (conflict of interest disclaimer: My band is currently working on a cover of "Love Removal Machine"). If you still miss Alejandro Escovedo's once-traditional Sunday night SXSW La Zona Rosa gigs, you'll be happy to know that this year, Al, brother Javier Escovedo, and Jon Dee Graham are getting back together as the True Believers for a Sunday, March 18, SIMS benefit at the Continental Club. To complete the picture, they're currently in the process of trying to find drummer Rey Washam, but if he don't turn up, may I suggest that Keith Carnes is available?
A truckload of new Gourds-related material is coming down the pike. Besides their latest Sugar Hill release Bolsa de Agua, keep an eye open for Awesome Records' $5 budget comp Awesome, which will feature two Gourds tracks: "Jimmy's Flamenco Cabaret" and a previously unreleased track called "Hey Little Light." Also in May, look for the new Lazy Sunday Dream CD, Soulages, with the Gourds guesting on three tracks. After that, expect Kevin Russell's solo album, Buttermilk & Riffles, the unsequenced final mixes of which went to the label last week. Jon Dee Graham lends some guitar, the gals from the Damnations lend their voices, and there'll be plenty of Gourds on there as well. The release date is up in the air, depending on whether Sugar Hill takes up the option for the solo work, but how could any album featuring a track called "Somebody Bring Me Flowers, I'm a Robot," co-written with a four-year-old, not convince them? If it, in fact, doesn't do the trick, look for the disc to come out on Munich Records possibly as soon as this summer. Finally (whew), on the way is a re-release of Gogichershinebox, now reconfigured as a full-length album with five new cover song tracks. Originally released as a promo EP, the new LP excludes "Magnolia" in favor of the unissued material. Don't ask me why they didn't include both -- I'm still stuck on the robot song.
Former Individuals member India Taylor has received a whopping $2,250 from Jim Beam, and what's truly amazing is that the money was awarded in tribute to her musical talent (as opposed to numerous Austin musicians I can think of who would deserve the prize based on stamina alone). The grant comes through the liquor giant's B.E.A.M. (Benefiting Emerging Artists in Music) program, and Taylor says the cash will go toward promoting her CD and covering touring expenses. No word on whether free "set-ups" are also included, but note also that Matthew Sweet has joined the B.E.A.M. advisory board, apparently in the days since Taylor was chosen for the latest award. Musicians have three more chances this year to snag cash from the bourbon makers (other than finding a mouse in your bottle and suing) so check out www.jimbeam.com, write B.E.A.M. at PO Box 4723, New York, NY 10163-4723, or visit the company's trade show booth at SXSW Kissinger's single "Urbia" reached No. 1 on a British music chart last week, while the 10 x 10 Countdown, a worldwide television station based in the UK, broadcast an interview with band member Chopper and debuted a newly edited video for the song Photographer Burton Wilson, whose work decorated our "Lost Austin" issue, is the subject of the cover story in this month's Discoveries magazine. The issue also features a pull-out section on the Austin Record Convention, which once again occurs during SXSW on the weekend of March 17-18 Rob Kidd can't stay away from the girls of 8 1/2 Souvenirs (and who can blame him?). He informs me that he's out of the Chrysta Bell project right now, but that the Souvs have again reunited with original singer Kathy Kiser. Kidd is also part of the ongoing reunion of the Gingbreadmen reunion, who'll be playing Antone's in late March with guests Kevin McKinney and the Grooveline Horns. Look for further spinoffs from the Souvs, such as Glover Tango, the latest from former keyboardist Glover Gill Quickly, look for Marcia Ball's next album out on Alligator Records in April, and the return of the Toadies with a new disc and local show at La Zona Rosa on March 25 Have you spotted the Electric Bus yet? It's kinda hard to miss, being a big, purple bus that's "transporting the experience, inspiration, and mission of EMP [Experience Music Project -- as in the Jimi Hendrix Experience] to students and music fans across the country." It's been at 21st and Speedway across from Gregory Gym for four days now as part of its tour, which includes college campuses, music festivals, and other special events. The 18-wheeler transforms into a 10,000-square-foot temporary structure consisting of six tents and an exhibit trailer, and it's leaving today (Thursday), so if you missed it or want to see it again, fret not -- it'll be back on the streets of Austin throughout SXSW Online source www.worldpop.com reports that Ricky Martin is finally beginning to feel some backlash over his appearance at the big presidential inauguration bash, which he did against the wishes of his producer/songwriter Robi Draco Rosa. According to the site, Martin recently asked Moby to join forces with him in Florida around the time of the Winter Music Conference, and Moby in return offered several conditions that would have to be met before he would accept. Those conditions, as taken from Moby's online diary, include such statements as, "I would consider doing something with Ricky Martin if, and only if, he publicly apologizes for performing at George W. [Bush]'s inauguration, and if he confirms that when he danced next to George W Bush at the inauguration, he could smell brimstone and that George W Bush is in fact the spawn of Satan. Otherwise, no deal." The former Menudo member was also recently snubbed in Florida by techno legend Carl Cox. No word on whether Destiny's Child have lost any gigs (or more members) following the group's chanting of "I say George, you say Bush!" immediately after Martin's inaugural appearance
-- Contributors: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser
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