Dancing About Architecture
Joey Ramone is dead
Sad to See You Go Go Go Go Goodbye
Whether you're wearing black leather or not, you're probably still stunned by the news of Joey Ramone's sudden passing. Easter Sunday's announcement that the deadbeat Dad of American punk rock had expired, hot on the heels of a vague announcement that the 49-year-old singer was in the hospital (where so many of his songs were set) being treated for lymphatic cancer, still has many people looking like they've just gone through shock treatment. Joey (real name Jeffrey Hyman) would be happy to know that in death he has already caused a ruckus much like that he raised in life; upon hearing of Joey's passing, local poster artist Billy Perkins asked himself, and 101X, "Do we have a true alternative radio station in this town or not?" In an e-mail missive sent to several big guns at the LBJ-S radio station family plus a few print media types, Perkins announced, "I intend to hijack 101X for the first half of the Flashback Lunch hour to play a tribute to the Ramones. As a devoted fan for over 20 years, I simply can't sit by and allow Joey Ramone to pass through this world with nothing more than a mention and two minutes of 'Sheena Is a Punk Rocker.' He deserves so much more! If the listeners like Blink-182, Rancid, Bowling for Soup, Green Day, etc., then they like the Ramones. They just might not know it. If this doesn't happen, you'll know there is simply no justice in this world, and 'alternative radio' is a farce." Perkins concluded his message with the assurance that, "I won't overstep FCC boundaries or do anything to get the station in trouble. Here I come," but few were surprised by his follow-up announcement, mere hours later: "The Lord giveth and Melody Lee taketh away. I was told [that] 30 minutes of the Ramones is evidently entirely too much. They give us 25 years and we can't give them 30 minutes, go figure." Rest assured, Billy, that 30 minutes was hardly too much Ramones for many people around town to play on their own turntables or CD players, at least in the places I've passed through over the past few days. As far as club tributes to the late Ramone, your guess is as good as mine. The conventional wisdom had it that the CBGB Hoot Night scheduled for April 28 at the Hole in the Wall would turn into a toast to Joey. However, that shindig has now been postponed until September for unrelated reasons. Ironically, that night is now set to be a tribute show for the recently deceased Dick Hays of the Hickoids, though some have asked why there's not just some time set aside at Woodshock (June 2-3) for such a tribute, since all Hays' friends will be there, and June 3 is his birthday! So far, those confirmed for the Hays tribute include Amberjack Rice, Andy Thomas' band Randy, and Where the Action Is, a Big Drag spinoff not to be confused with those former Hotwheels Jr. folks who really thought they'd found a name that didn't sound like anyone else's with The Action Is. And rock & roll keeps on coming; despite all the talk of Woodshock coming up this Labor Day weekend, I didn't mention a similar blast of decibels set to blare through town a week before! May 25-27, the former Northwestern U.S.-based punk festival Garageshock moves to Austin (Emo's to be precise), with some 18 bands, including Mark Arm and Tim Kerr's Monkeywrench supplying "more fuckin' fuzzy, scuzzy, pure Estrus rock power than you can shake a stick at!" That, of course, is not the extent of upcoming festivals: This weekend, Saturday and Sunday, noon-10pm, is the Austin version of the Bob Marley Festival at Auditorium Shores, with admission set at $3, plus two cans of food, and free shuttle buses running every 15 minutes from the lot at Fourth and San Antonio. Then, next weekend, it's everybody's favorite ass come home to roost, as Eeyore's Birthday Party, with bands including Tribal Nation, the Majestiks, the Banned, and Ma Ferguson, returns once again.
On the Right Track
Look out, world, the Derailers are back. Well, they didn't really go anywhere, it's just that for the past couple of years the band has been spinning its wheels and not achieving a great deal of forward motion. "We've been touring and biding our time at Sire the past couple of years," says manager Bill Thies. "The band just kind of limped along for a while," waiting for their deal with the label to expire. Now that it has, Thies says the band is overjoyed to announce their signing with Sony's Lucky Dog label (home to Charlie Robison), which the manager calls "the strongest label in Nashville." The Derailers are all hot and ready to go with the new deal, having already finished tracking their debut album for Lucky Dog, with plans calling for a late-summer or early fall release for the yet-unnamed disc. So, say goodbye to the band that quietly earned a CMT award for Best Independent Video this year with "The Right Place," and whose long-form vid won a Jack Daniel's Spirit Award at the Tennessee Film Festival and had well-received screenings in L.A., as well, and say hello to a band that, for the first time, went into Nashville with industry people expecting them to come out with a hit record in hand. "In Austin, people still think of the Derailers as this band that plays the Broken Spoke once a month," Thies says, not as a potentially big, internationally popular act ready to rub elbows with the Lyle Lovetts and Patty Lovelesses of the world. He insists that with the help of producer Kyle Lehneng and the backing of Lucky Dog and the massive Columbia/Epic/Sony/Monument (aka "the Dixie Chicks label") empire, "people are gonna be really surprised at how many records the Derailers sell!"
Just One of the Guys
I think the only one of the Asylum Street Spankers that didn't get a mention in this column last week was Guy Forsyth. Well, guess what? The world's not standing still for Mr. F, either! Though he makes it clear that he's still an Antone's label recording artist, and is in fact on his way to Denmark to promote Steak, his current album for the label, it seems likely that his most recent slab o' vinyl will be his last for the local indie. Rykodisc/Palm Pictures has been courting Forsyth of late, and while his management cautions that nothing has actually been inked, the respected label has made it fairly clear that they want to put out Forsyth's next album. Forsyth has been busy on all fronts, having just returned from one tour in time to head out on the aforementioned Denmark/all over Europe tour in two weeks, partially in conjunction with Omar and the Howlers, who have themselves just returned from the Continent and are beginning to record their next disc for Provogue. After a spate of Texas dates in May, Forsyth follows in Alejandro Escovedo and Joe Ely's footsteps as an actor with a major role in Mark Ramonte's play Ape Man of Manhattan, running through the bulk of June at the Off Center in New York. After the play's run concludes, shooting for a feature film version of Ape Man immediately follows! Meanwhile, the current set of Asylum Street Spankers will perform their original accompanying score to the classic Charlie Chaplin flick The Gold Rush at the Alamo Drafthouse next Wednesday, April 25, for what they say is the last time locally. I always say this, but I mean it: These silent films with local, newly created scores by local acts are among the niftiest things to experience in Austin, and I hear that the last one (Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box with music by Golden Arm Trio) could've brought in larger crowds. So don't blow this one off, as it would be a damn shame for this series to peter out so soon. By the way, since the item ran last week regarding local artists getting airplay on the Dr. Demento show, the good doctor e-mailed me to say that ex-Spankers Shorty Long have been officially added to the Demento Show playlist for Saturday, April 28 (heard locally on Z-102, 6-8am), and that he managed to check out the Spankers live at a little club in L.A., and was surprised to find that people weren't kidding him about the band refusing to use "demon electricity" during their performances!
In a recent notice from Dallas-area performer Brian Burns, the singer-songwriter noted that a recent scheduled performance at Poodie's Hilltop Bar & Grill in Spicewood had been canceled due to "a legal dispute [between Poodie's and] the owners of the adjacent property," and that since Poodie himself was out on tour with Willie Nelson, there was no one to argue when the neighbors obtained a court order for the Hilltop to close its doors over the course of the weekend. Meanwhile, back downtown, things seem to be fairly quiet (pun intended) in the battle between the Red Eyed Fly and a Red River resident who doesn't much appreciate clubs like the Fly and Stubb's expanding into more and later music on weeknights. Says the Fly's John Meyer, the club will soon undergo one more round of sound dampening, and until then, the key is to "talk to the bands in advance and make sure they don't crank up their amps." In recent months, the club has moved all its live music to the covered back patio Django Walker, son of famed troubadour Djerry Djeff Walker, will be playing the rooftop deck at Waterloo Brewing Company tonight, Thursday, 9-11pm. Django is here in Austin on spring break from Paul McCartney's school of music in England, which is the perfect opportunity to mention that the Ramones were actually named after McCartney's Sixties pseudonym, "Paul Ramone," which the ex-Beatle also alluded to with the song "Ram On" from 1971's Ram album. Walker's is a last-minute booking; if you haven't checked out the free shows at the Brewery this is as good a time to start as any. Walker also has tentative dates at both Opal Divine's Freehouse and Waterloo Brewing in June, and other concerts at the brewery include this Saturday's 10pm-midnight appearance by Scarecrow and next Thursday's 9-11pm show by Trigger Happy Well, time to go home and watch the Jesus video I got in the mail. Since our Politics department lamed out on following up on their "What to do with all these Jesus videos" competition (they tell me there was only one good reply, and it wasn't particularly funny), please allow me to point you to a fine essay on the matter by local guerilla scribe Mark Finn: www.clockworkstorybook.com/finnswake Happy belated Easter, Mr. Christ
– Contributors: Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer