Dancing About Architecture

Our resident Marshmallow Peep relates the news and hearsay in and around the Live Music Capital...

Kristin McConnell at Donkey Records
Kristin McConnell at Donkey Records (Photo By John Anderson)

A Fly in the Ointment

In what John Meyer is calling a "precedent-setting case," the Red Eyed Fly owner went to court last week to defend the live music venue from charges brought by nearby residents in the Red River entertainment district. Meyer says the Fly has never been cited for breaking the sound ordinance, and neither has any other venue on Red River to his knowledge, but the plaintiffs in the case claim the music disrupts their ability to live a normal life and have filed a civil suit seeking monetary recompense. Specifically, last Thursday's court date saw the plaintiffs' request for a temporary injunction to cease and desist outside music at the Fly denied.

If and when the lawsuit does go to trial, the Fly's legal counsel will be defending the venue against a possible permanent injunction, which would effectively cease outdoor music at the Fly, and could impose extreme limitations on the volume at which bands could play indoors at the club. "In addition to my concerns about the effect this lawsuit could have on the club," says Meyer, "if the plaintiffs are ultimately successful, I am also concerned about what a suit like this may mean to other clubs and bars downtown. I believe that any and every live music venue in downtown Austin, and specifically our neighborhood friends Stubb's, Waterloo Park, and the new concerts at Seventh and Neches, may be at risk of not being able to host outside live music because of the threat of being sued."

Meyer says he hopes the suit won't proceed much further due to the Fly's victory on Thursday, but he assures all involved that he's "going to continue to take appropriate measures, both at the club and legally" until the matter is completely resolved. Hopefully, the club will emerge victorious and this whole issue will send a message to all those who want to live in an entertainment district and then complain about the music. And that message is: People, we don't want to hear it!

Elsewhere in Clubland

Meanwhile down the street, yes, that was former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted you saw at Emo's during Speedealer's set Saturday. Advance word was that Newsted planned on joining the Dallas metallers onstage, but that didn't happen for whatever reason. He's apparently accompanying the band as producer of their next album, and quite clearly knew all the words to their songs, singing along throughout the set. In fact, he was so absorbed in the 'dealer, he didn't even notice Trail of Dead in the other room. And he's a decent guy, according to the bar staff. "We had to tell him to quit drinking at 2:15am," says an Emo's staffer, "but he wasn't a dick about it."

It looks like a similar relationship between the Applicators and the Circle Jerks means good news for Austin. Seems the Jerks are playing only five shows on their reunion minitour next month, but Austin is one of them and the Apps will open for the legendary punks at Emo's August 11. Both of those facts are no doubt in large part due to the fact that Jerk and recent Austinite Greg Hetson has been producing material for the local punk gals, notably their What's Your Excuse album. And the legends keep coming -- sort of -- with a somewhat bizarre super-grouping night September 3. That's when the Misfits come to the club. No, they won't have Glenn Danzig or even any of the many rumored star replacements we've heard about over the years. However, the remaining Misfits are said to be playing three sets, one being an all-Ramones set with guest Dee Dee Ramone and the other an all-Black Flag set with guest Dez Cadena and Robo Valverde of that classic act. Definitely sounds like a night that'll drag all the old punks out of the woodwork for miles around. Meanwhile, Spot will probably not be able to get off work at the Hole in the Wall that night.

The Back Room will be bringing in a Ramone of their own, Marky Ramone, August 11, for (of all things!) a spoken-word performance, along with rare Ramones concert footage and a Q&A session regarding the one-two-three-forefathers of punk rock. Opening will be Duncan Wilder Johnson, aka the "Lenny Bruce of hardcore," who'll lecture on "the guilty pleasures of being a Slayer fan." And finally, in other punk rock club news, the last place you'd expect touring acts is probably Beerland, but look for former Matador recording artist Barbara Manning along with Germany's Go-Luckys and a couple of hardcore bands from New Jersey there tonight (Thursday).

Continental Krupps

As intimated in Stephen Moser's fashion column last week (of all places!), there's a good chance that playing the Continental Club may soon net you a much larger audience than can fit into the beloved South Congress venue itself. As stated therein, Die Krupps founder Juergen Engler, currently of DKay.com, owns the old recording studio next to the club, and this week, Continental owner Steve Wertheimer confirmed he's interested in the idea of opening up the wall between the venue and the studio to produce live recordings from his club. "It's something we've always talked about," Wertheimer says. One of the concepts being bandied about involves not just audio, but live videotaping as well, since Engler has connections with Germany's popular country music television channel, and has been looking into the possibility of transmitting live feeds to Europe. Wertheimer says that at this point literally nothing has actually been started toward this goal, but again, he's interested in the idea. Hey, as they say in the Motherland, nicht wahr?

September Songs

Robert Earl Keen's Lost Highway debut Gravitational Forces has been bumped back to a September 11 release, but the folks at the label say there's no big scary reason for the delay. According to them, radio interest has been picking up, so they're working the release to time out best with that. Keen also wanted to re-record "The Road Goes On Forever" for the disc, so fans' reward for waiting an extra month is a new version of the song along with the rest of the tracks already planned for inclusion on Forces. Expect guests like Reckless Kelly's Cody Braun and local keyboard wizard Ian McLagan on the Gurf Morlix-co-produced disc, but no members of Keen's biggest fans, the George W. Bush clan. It's a shame that Keen didn't re-record "Sonora's Death Row" instead. I'm sure Dubya himself would've loved to sing backup on that one.

O Little Town of North Loop

A couple of weeks ago "Dancing" covered some of the troubles local record/CD stores have been having in keeping their doors open. This week, I'm happy to announce that a new such shop with plenty of punk rock personality has opened at the little shopping area on North Loop. Donkey Records has joined the passel of neat shops there, including Room Service, Hog Wild, Forbidden Fruit, and the Parlor. Donkey Records is a garagey sort of place that keeps a nice selection of CDs, vinyl, and a couple of videos in stock, with an emphasis on punk rock. And while we're in the neighborhood, I should point out that the Parlor, the pizza joint managed by Transfixr's Todd Williams, has been serving up live music of late, including Jane Bond on Mondays and Travis County Ramblers on Tuesdays. Jimmy Bradshaw and Charlie Ribble should also be starting something on Thursdays, says Williams, "if someone lights a fire under their asses."

Mixed Notes

Word is out that Wilco, a band with more than their share of Austin fans, is ready to split with Reprise Records. Sources say the label and band fell apart over differences in opinion concerning the focus of the group's next album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, with some reports saying Jeff Tweedy and company have opted to ditch the label and self-release the disc. Reprise VP Bill Bentley says he can't confirm anything one way or the other, but hopes that that the label and the band can come up with some way to stay happy together. "It's still at the 'wait and see' point," he says… "Remember me?" asks Meredith Miller. "I was the cute, blond, drunk singer-songwriter that moved back to Dallas. Oh wait, that describes most of the singer-songwriters in Austin!" In any case, Miller has moved back to Austin to attend grad school at UT, and is playing occasionally. Next up are gigs on August 4 at the Cactus opening for Terri Hendrix, and August 17 at Gaby and Mo's… I've been hearing good things about Redd Volkaert's 2-6pm Saturday afternoon "matinee" shows at the Continental Club (see the "Calendar" page), so if you're interested, you should check it out soon. Before September at least, since Hightone Records is putting together a "honky-tonk supergroup" with Volkaert, Bill Kirchen, Dallas Wayne, and Joe Goldmark, aka the Twangbangers, for a four-week trek from mid-September to mid-October, with the Continental getting a visit Sept. 29… On the other end of the musical spectrum, the Riddlin' Kids will be part of the "Crouching Fish/ Hidden Finger" tour with Goldfinger, Reel Big Fish, Zebrahead, and Homegrown starting this Saturday in Chicago. The Kids have a new EP out this week titled Any Day Now, which includes two teaser tracks from their upcoming album, an R.E.M. cover ("End of the World"), and an original track that won't be on the album, which is due in early 2002… Daniel Johnston is back from a brief West Coast jaunt, and a travelling companion tells me the singer spent quite a bit of quality beach time with fan Matt Groening at the Simpsons creator's Malibu beach house. More surprisingly, the Gammon Records people have sent copies of Johnston's "new" Rejected Unknown album to the Chron office, proving that they really exist! Not only that, they feature more artwork than Brian Beattie's "private" Austin edition from 1999!… Since I mentioned Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty in the column last week, the formerly Austin-based Rob Thomas e-mailed me this week to brag that he managed to make The New York Post with his latest bash. That was a Stuff magazine-sponsored party wherein Cher and Gregg Allman's son Elijah Blue serenaded cross-dressing actor Alexis Arquette with ABBA song "Winner Takes It All" on a karaoke machine. Others in attendance at Thomas' Hollywood home included Vince Vaughn, Wes Bentley, Chris Kattan, Stephen Dorff, Robert Horry, Rory Cochrane, Pam Anderson, and Fred Durst. "My real reason to let you know about this," Thomas writes, "[is that] the morning after, Kid Rock's bowler was still floating in my pool. I'm hoping to sell it to the highest bidder." If my printing this helps raise the price, I'm expecting a percentage -- especially since now I'm afraid of getting a similar e-mail from Matt Groening saying he's taking bids on Daniel Johnston's swim trunks…

-- Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser

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