Good God, It's Friday ...
My first thought as I sit down to write this latest installment in the Chronicle's South by Southwest daily odyssey is, "I wonder who all is playing in Monte Montgomery's band tonight?" It wouldn't be all that burning a question except I had heard yesterday that bassist Steve Bernal had quit the MM band as of last Friday, following a, shall I say, "pugilistic disagreement" after a show opening for Gib Droll at Smith's Old Bar in Atlanta. Such incidents happen among bands all the time, but they certainly seem to escalate right before SXSW or any other musical "occasion." In any case, by the time you read this, Montgomery, one of the most popular guitarists in Austin, will have done his thang at Antone's, as will some 200 acts plying their trade for the public on the second night of SXSW 2001's second day. You'll no doubt see Bernal in any number of musical situations in the future, but as far as his past, I ran into Steamboat documentary producer Brian Watkins, who insists that his film about the once-vaunted Sixth Street guitar haven (think Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Johnson, Arc Angels -- Bill Hicks) is far from a dead issue. Watkins also informs me that Steamboat boss Danny Crooks is still alive (though he's vanished off the media's face of the Earth these days), and that he was apparently looking into being involved in yet another nightclub deal, but the project fell through. Well, the project itself, a reopening of the old Hill's Café as a music club by Bob Cole, may not be dead, but Crooks won't be involved as far as I can tell at this time. For those of you visiting for SXSW, Steamboat was yet another longtime Austin landmark live music venue that was forced out of its home due to "progress," though in this case it was not the city that directly tossed it aside. Unlike Liberty Lunch, the sinking of the Steamboat came from the influx of new private enterprise and an adamant shot bar entrepreneur who offered the building's owner more than Crooks could top, forcing the venue off Sixth Street and into the history books.
Last night, I got barraged by fussola regarding the possible appearance(s) in town by buzz band Coldplay, who were seen arriving in town and making their way to the Four Seasons. By industry hotness standards, one could almost call these UK darlings the biggest band at the conference (even though they weren't technically at the conference), so some word about their visit seemed in order, but word from insiders so far says that no, they won't be knocking the Cult out of the Revolver party, or performing anywhere for that matter. On the other hand, it has been confirmed that the infamous Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue fame was on the same plane that the Coldplay gang rode in on, and Sixx has since been spotted at the SXSW gig by Broken Teeth, which as you know is one of respected Dangerous Toys veteran Jason McMaster's current diversions. Meanwhile, reports have surfaced of Ozzy Osbourne being spotted at Atomic Café last night, though I haven't been able to get confirmation on that. Seems like his sort of hangout, however. One venue that's suddenly jumped in with alternative showcases of their own is Trophy's, much to the consternation of their former booker Randall Stockton, who's still busy assembling his Beerland club next to the Atomic Café. Trophy's got Teen Cool and the Titz playing tonight, I'm informed, and an appearance is tentatively also expected by a certain international superstar SXSW band, possibly under the name Nuts for the Noise (and if you can't figure that one out, you don't deserve to see them anyway). As a Damned fan (oops! I'm saying too much now!), I'll have to run over there as soon as my own Damned-inspired "Southern Goth" band Cauhaus plays as part of the "Rock Showdown" at the Texas Showdown this afternoon from 5 to 9pm with the Stummies, Triplewide, and the Black Novas. Normally, I vehemently abhor using this space for such blatant self-promotion, but I'm told that we need to use my band flier since the planned artwork for this column didn't come through, and what the hell -- maybe it's high time I proved to some of you doubters that I'm not shitting you when I say I have a band.
The Chron daily schedule ran a bit late last night, so I barely got to see any of the "proper" SXSW Wednesday showcases. I never seem to manage to make it to any of the panels, either, despite juicy titles like "When Will Digital Music Be Legal and Popular?" and "How Do You Publicize a Mike Watt in a Britney Spears World?" (Oddly, neither Spears nor Watt are listed as participants, though the latter will be appearing as part of the Fog with J Mascis, for their theoretically Stooges-heavy set with Ron Asheton tomorrow and at their Tower Records in-store today at 5pm.) What I did get to attend today was the first day of the SXSW Music Conference Trade Show, and I have to say there were a lot of mixed signals being given off at the various booths. I don't just mean the deceptively friendly warning at the SXSW Listening Kiosk telling people not to use the computers there to send e-mail ("Thanks! You Will Be Arrested!"). I'm referring to such baffling logic as that of karaoke company Music Playground, whose brochure proudly declares that they will enable you to "play and sing along with your favorite music without having to know how to play an instrument!" So how were they getting people to sign up at their booth? With a Fender guitar giveaway, of course! The Jagermeister liquor folks were the only ones I could find whose message was pure, direct, and to the point. "No one gives a shit about independent music except Jagermeister! " announced the spokesman at the booth. The company has a Web site (
) dedicated to sponsoring new indie bands, though they say they're also now using signed bands as a "springboard" for the unsigned acts. (Isn't that what started the first backlash against SXSW?) Asked whether the company supplied booze to their current favorite Texas act, Dallas metal men Pantera, the answer was a resounding "Yes!" Says the Jager rep, "We hooked up a tap machine to their bus, and I send Vinnie [Abbott, the band's drummer] weekly FedExes of liquor!" Hey, don't knock it. I think that's how Metallica got their start. Finally, here's one more tip (as unwelcome as it might be) to avoid getting yourself pissed off -- as I hear it, the Black Crowes show tonight is definitely going to be a badges-only affair. Well, time for me to get back out on the streets and check out tonight's acts, then get a good night's sleep before tomorrow as we enter day three of SXSW 2001. At least I can get a good night's sleep for the first time in a decade or so now that I've started seeing a chiropractor, who discovered that my top vertebra had been crushing my freaking brain stem all these years! Next time you see me, I may be more then half-awake, and eventually I may start to be able to remember people's names for more than a day or two at a time!