Dancing About Architecture
A flood of weather (and music) following SXSW
God Part II
When Eric Clapton calls you up and asks you for a guitar lesson, you gotta figure you're doing something right. That's what happened to ex-Arc Angel Doyle Bramhall II last year, following his long run of playing David Gilmour to Roger Waters' Roger Waters. Turns out that DB2's penchant for playing left-handed on an upside-down right-hander axe is what had the guitarist-formerly-known-as-God stumped, but you can read all about it yourself in next month's Guitar World (June cover), where Bramhall is interviewed by our own Andy Langer. For right now, Clapton's got a new high-profile album out, and Bramhall is all over it, alongside Curtis Mayfield's Impressions and Fastball organist Billy Preston. In a piece on Clapton, the current Rolling Stone makes mention of the tune Bramhall co-wrote with him ("Superman Inside") and reveals that the former local will be opening Slowhand's North American tour. "For a rock guitar player, it doesn't get much better than this tour," Bramhall is quoted as saying. The first leg of said jaunt kicks off in Texas, with no Austin date currently slated despite the new Texas policy of having an amphitheater on every block. Instead, fans can drive either to Dallas on May 10, San Antonio on May 12, or Houston on May 14. Clapton's label, Reprise Records, in the person of Bill Bentley, says they believe the Impressions will be along for some if not all the shows on the tour, but couldn't offer much more in the way of inside scoops. "[Clapton] is a pretty private guy," Bentley shrugs, so he doesn't know precisely why the God of guitarists won't be serving the folks of Austin (or "Cranetown" as Bentley now calls it) this time around. Ah, well, there's always the next leg of the tour.
Bob, Charlie, and Oscar
Where were you while the Oscars ran last Sunday? Bob Dylan was in Australia, and as such, so was sideman Charlie Sexton, who netted a few seconds of high-dollar prime-time exposure as Bob belted out the Best Original Song in a Motion Picture winner "Things Have Changed" via live satellite simulcast from Oz. Looking for all the world like a cross between John Waters and Vincent Price, the former Mr. Zimmerman was standing by with an unprepared yet sincere acceptance speech after a nearly naked Jennifer Lopez announced him the victor in a field of heavy hitters that included Sting, Björk, and Randy Newman. After last year's embarrassing pass-over of South Park's "Blame Canada" -- to which SP co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone responded, "Whatever bad things people have gone through can't compare to the pain of losing to Phil Collins" -- the voters' decision this year was a welcome return to sanity. In related news, former Stubb's resident performer Russell Crowe received the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Amps & Theatres
SFX, the "world's largest producer and marketer of live entertainment," has announced that Verizon Wireless has acquired the name-in-title rights to its newest amphitheater, located in Selma, Texas, just north of San Antonio. SFX's new venue will be named Verizon Wireless Amphitheater after the largest telecommunications company in the United States. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with guests the Wallflowers will kick off the Amphitheater's inaugural season on Saturday, May 19, with tickets on sale this Saturday. Mike Tabor, executive director of the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, says that, "In spite of a wet winter, construction is right on schedule, and we're only eight weeks away from opening day." Tabor also announced some of the acts that will be part of the venue's inaugural season, including Styx, Bad Company, Billy Squier, and Survivor on May 20 (on sale April 6); Poison, Vince Neil, Warrant, Quiet Riot, Enuff 'Z Nuff, and the Bullet Boys on May 26; Journey and Peter Frampton on June 9; Rod Stewart on June 22; the Brooks & Dunn Neon Circus on July 1; Dave Matthews Band on July 17; plus James Taylor and the Gipsy Kings, both dates to be announced. That's quite a list of names, you have to admit. Makes you wonder what Josh Cisneros at the Metro thinks about Verizon stealing all his club's best-drawing bands. SFX says they intend to bring as many as 30 acts to the Amphitheater during the inaugural season and will continue to announce acts throughout the spring. Tickets for upcoming concerts are available through Ticketmaster outlets or by visiting SFX's Web site at www.sfx.com
. Further info on upcoming shows, etc., is at www.vwatx.com
. Closer to home, little new information was available on the SFX-owned House of Blues company, which in turn owns Austin's onetime king of outdoor venues, Southpark Meadows. At press time, the company could only point me to a blurb at the end of a Verizon Ampitheater press release, noting that, "In south Austin, Hollywood-based HOB Entertainment Inc. plans to spend up to $20 million to renovate Southpark Meadows for a House of Blues that could seat up to 20,000 people and open as early as summer." Scott Lonski, marketing director for the Smirnoff Music Center in Dallas (where calls to the Meadows are now automatically rerouted), says to expect the opening to be "more toward the end of the summer or the end of the season -- or maybe even not until next season." Currently, the Meadows is mainly in the planning and contracting phase, though it appears some physical work is getting done as well.
South by Spring & Summer
As I always say, the end of South by Southwest only means the beginning of music festival season in Austin. This weekend finds a lot of activity in the same place SXSW likes to put on all those free outdoor shows (Ricky Skaggs, Junior Brown, Kacy Chambers, Matthew Sweet, etc.) -- Waterloo Park -- which will busy with shows scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, the TX BBQ & Music Festival is going down with Jack Ingram, Owen Temple, the Geezinslaws, and others supporting headliner Waylon Jennings, starting at noon and going 'til 10pm. Tickets are $17 in advance and $20 at the gate, or call Star Tickets at 469-show. On Sunday, April Fool's Day (be warned!), for a mere $5, it's the 23rd Annual Spamarama, where thousands will flock to see the "unique creative culinary concoctions" at the Spam Cook-off. (This year, I simply must enter my Spam & Tang-based substitution for duck l'orange -- I call it "Spang!") Yep, this is the Spam that was around before the Internet, the kind that only looks appetizing when placed next to a can of "potted meat food product." Alongside events like the Spam Toss, Spam Call, and the challenging Spam cram, they'll be plenty of music from the likes of the Uranium Savages, Asylum Street Spankers, and Flaco Jimenez, who'll no doubt help helm the first annual memorial tribute to Doug Sahm, with the help of Ernie Durawa and folks like Speedy Sparks, Will Sexton, and Brooks Manry. Also appearing will be Freddie "Steady" Krc, Ponty Bone, the South Austin Gospel Singers, Zydeco Ranch, and Jo Carol Pierce. This year's celeb judges for the Spam-Off include Austin Chronicle publisher Nick Barbaro, Eyebeam cartoonist Sam Hurt, Waterloo Brewing guru Billy Forrester, Travis County Sheriff Margo Frazier, and sausage squeezer Jimmy Dean's nephew Stan Dean. (Isn't meat the biggest direct competitor of Spam?) Spamarama 2001 is sponsored by Disabilities Assistance of Central Texas; call now for information on entering the Cook-off. Their hotline: 834-1827. Soon as that's over, Uranium Savage Kerry Awn is gonna have to shake the Spam outta his pants and run over to the Elephant Room to emcee a musical/comic tribute to recently deceased comedian Johnny Torrez, with acts including Doug Hall Trio, Tony Campise, Los Jazz Vatos, Texana Dames, Freddie Mendoza, Nancy Reed, Tom Hester, Howard Beecher, Marz, Martin Banks, and Niel Pederson. And I know I promised details about Ark Productions' Monster Rave III last week, but since I'm low on space (I haven't even mentioned this year's Bob Marley Festival), check back with me next week. For now, I'll just throw this out there for your consideration: I hear there may be a Raul's Reunion in the works, including a possible Swine King get-together, on May 5. And, hey, while we're at it, what about the tales that Jeff Smith is planning a new Woodshock for June?!? Stay tuned.
Losing a Sister, Gaining a ?
A press release from the members of Sister Seven reports that, "After a Top 20 Billboard hit on their Arista Austin debut, and a Top 10 hit on their album Wrestling Over Tiny Matters, released on Arista proper, the band and Arista have agreed to discontinue relations." Beyond that, the band has also chosen to "discontinue" relations with itself, for the time being at least. The band will release Sister Seven Live on April 10 on their label Dual Tone Music, after which the local band will play farewell shows in Austin April 27-28 at La Zona Rosa, where the new live album was recorded last New Year's Eve. The LP features live tracks spanning the band's 10-year career, including a pair of never-recorded live tracks, plus three previously unreleased studio tracks. S7 will also play farewell shows in Dallas at Trees and in Houston at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge. Next up, look for solo projects aplenty from the band, including Patrice Pike and the Black Box Rebellion, Darrell Phillips' The Cartwheel Galaxy, and an as-yet-untitled album out later this year by guitarist Wayne Sutton. Says Pike, "All of us are in a really good place personally and professionally and have been very supportive of each others' solo ventures. Now that we're free of all major-label obligations, we agreed that this is a perfect window to take these projects to another level." Pike is not lifting the veil on whether or not the members will tour or record in the future as Sister Seven, instead choosing to leave the live album as a "thank you" to their fans.
Speaking of a flood of post-SXSW music, the Golden Arm Trio is nothing if not ambitious, with seven performances in seven days starting next Wednesday. April 4 they'll be providing a live musical score for silent film great Pandora's Box, featuring the incomparably sexy Louise Brooks. That's at the Alamo Drafthouse, of course, with showtimes at 7 & 9:30pm. Then, on Thursday, April 5, Graham Reynolds and company will provide a live score for Wallpaper Psalm, a play by Ruth Margraff produced by Salvage Vanguard Theater. Later that same night, there's the GAT's Classical Hoot Nite at the Mercury featuring Brown Whörnet, Blue Noise Band, Stinky Del Negro, Chris Black & the Holy Ghost, and the Tosca String Quartet. The hoot celebrates the premiere of Classical Crossover, the new KMFA radio program by Reynolds and Whörnet man Peter Stopschinski (Thursdays 11pm, Saturdays 2am). Friday and Saturday are Psalm performances once again, while Sunday, 2pm, at the Austin Lyric Opera, 901 Barton Springs Rd., Reynolds and Stopschinski are putting on a "Children's Piano Concert," featuring 30 piano pieces written for children to be performed by local kids. Tuesday, April 10, is one last show of Pandora's Box, followed on Wednesday, hopefully, with some sleep Texas Folklife Resources presents the Leadbelly Legacy at the Paramount Theatre next Thursday, April 5. With informative elocution from John Wheat of the Center for American History and musical homages from W.C. Clark, Slaid Cleaves, Mary Cutrufello, Toni Price, Steve James, Stephen Bruton, Floyd Domino and other worthies, how can the serious music fan go wrong? GSD&M is putting on the "Hope Sessions" benefit this Sunday at the Backyard with sets by Slaid Cleaves, Sisters Morales, Don Walser, Dale Watson, the Gourds, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, who will have a special guest. Proceeds benefit one the agency's copy writers who was recently paralyzed. Doors at 2pm, music 'til 10pm. Tickets are $15 at Star Tickets, 469-SHOW The Young Heart Attack combo of Sixteen Deluxe and Fastball members (among others) performs its first full-length non-SXSW show this Friday at the Atomic Cafe with ...Trail of Dead, as their soundman returns from working with Guns 'N' Roses at Rock in Rio. During SXSW, Young ones Frenchie Smith and Bryan Bowden teamed up with the guys in Oranger to record a version of "30 Days in the Hole," which Bowden says may end up on a film soundtrack or somewhere like that Almost Famous, Part II: In preparation for their upcoming five-part series Below the Waist, VH1 sent the Chronicle's Margaret Moser to New York City to be interviewed. As co-author of Rock Stars Do the Dumbest Things, Moser talked to producer Chris Mendel for their "Peacock Rock" segment, with Moser sharing with the class not only her rock & roll excesses, but sex-cesses as well, from her days as a groupie with the Texas Blondes. Look for her commentary in the "Gender-Bender" and "Girl Groups" segments, as well. Two burning questions: Now that Almost Famous copped the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, can Moser's memoir be far behind? And now that Cameron Crowe has led rock journalism into the hot lights of Hollywood, could this career path finally become potentially profitable? Anyone know a good agent? -- Contributors: Raoul Hernandez and Andy Langer