Dancing About Architecture

Mambo John Treanor dies, but Austin jazz lives!

Mambo John Treanor at Antone's, July 2001
"Mambo" John Treanor at Antone's, July 2001 (Photo By John Anderson)

Adios, Mister Mambo

It wasn't a surprise, but it was saddening nonetheless. On Monday morning, phone calls and e-mails went out announcing the death of longtime-Austin musician "Mambo" John Treanor. As was well-documented in a recent Chronicle feature on the drummer (You Can Leave Your Hat On, July 20), Treanor had been battling cancer for some time, and the prognosis was grim. He was 48. Sunday evening found KGSR and KUT already playing music Mambo was involved with, and you can expect to hear memorial information announced through those radio stations as well. Friend Jon Dee Graham offers this reminiscence of the man:

"Mambo told me a story recently about a fight he once had with the bandleader of one of his old bands. The disagreement centered on the band's deteriorating standard of quality, what they were expecting of themselves ...

"He said he told the bandleader, 'Look here, this is a sacred trust, and anything less than the best just ain't good enough. You're taking this beautiful, precious thing and throwing mud all over it,' and that's how it was for Mambo. The music was not the most important thing. It was the only thing. Period.

"I was lucky enough to play with him regularly, and it was an amazing thing to watch him just dissolve into the music. He was a beautiful, brilliant eccentric, who traveled in his own private and highly specialized orbit, but the best testimony to who he was remains the steady stream of people who piled into his hospital room in the last 12 hours of his life.

"So many of his friends came to say goodbye that nurses had to put chairs in the hallway for the overflow. I feel blessed to have known him and played with him. He was my good friend."

Services for Treanor will be held today (Thursday) at the chapel at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home. Among other remembrances of Mambo, in October you can look for the new Greezy Wheels album, Millennium Greezy, on which some of Treanor's final work is featured. MTV's Kurt Loder has given a glowing advance review of the album ("Wonderful stuff ... positively Beefheartian"), which is dedicated to Treanor, and in his memory, money will be donated to both the SIMS Foundation and the Kenneth Threadgill Foundation.

Out of This World Music

As the week began, it looked as though I'd have to propose both "cheers" and "jeers" to KUT-FM, with the cheers directed of course to Larry Monroe for airing the music that made Mambo John Treanor's last hours happy ones. The jeers involved the apparent removal of Hayes McCauley, the host of KUT's World Music Show since Dan Del Santo was abducted by aliens (most likely Mexicans) years ago. It came to my attention on Monday that KUT had canceled the World Music show on Friday nights, as it wasn't living up to the ratings of its Monday-through-Thursday counterparts. This immediately led to more suspicion about the aims of the station's new management, but early talk has Jeff McCord's show later that night expanding to fill the spot (and since Jeff lets me bring records in occasionally, that's a good idea!). Both McCauley and World Music are expected to return in another time slot. (For more on this story see "Naked City.")

Jazzin' in Blue Jeans

Jazz lovers take note: This is your time of the year. This Friday through Sunday is the St. Cecilia Jazz Festival at the First Presbyterian Church (8001 Mesa Dr.), and the 21st Annual Fall Jazz Festival is at the Zilker Hillside Theatre next Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 1-2, 5-10pm. The St. Cecilia fest features the Beat Divas (Beth Ullman, Mady Kaye, and Dianne Donovan) with Eddie Hobizal on Friday, Will Taylor & Strings Attached Saturday, and "Jazz in Worship" with Jeff Hellmer on Sunday morning, followed by the Austin Jazz Workshop Ensemble performing several times throughout the remainder of the day. Next weekend, the Austin Federation of Musicians, Austin Arts Commission, and the Recording Industries' Music Performance Trust Funds sponsor the Fall Jazz Festival, and admission is free for the Sept. 1-2 outdoor Zilker shows. Check out the lineup: Seigfried Quartet, Ray Baker, Paul White, Beat Divas, Slim Richey Dream Band (Saturday); David Chenu Quartet, David Palmer Quartet, Greg Jones, Freddie Mendoza, John Adams Group (Sunday).

Want more jazz after that? Well, just because there's no outdoor extravaganza involved in the Clarksville Jazz Festival this year ("We're planning for a bigger and better outdoor festival in 2002," says Diverse Arts' Harold McMillan) doesn't mean there's no Jazz Fest at all. This year's events run Sept. 16-22, with five nights of jazz at as many venues. Tentatively booked is DJ/rap flavored act Mingus Amungus, with McMillan admitting that he's "trying to draw the youngsters in." McMillan's also "psyched" about the more traditional acts scheduled for the 2001 festival, key among them Blue Note recording artist the Jason Moran Trio, who have a new album coming out the week before their scheduled Sept. 21 Fest gig at Symphony Square. Also on the bill this year is spoken word and a selection of jazz-related films, courtesy of Tim League and the Alamo Drafthouse cinemas. McMillan speaks mainly of documentary films involving the history of jazz, but I say you can never see The Man With the Golden Arm too many times!

Mixed Notes

Famous workaholic Henry Rollins is impossible to get through to once he's on the road, but his publicity gang confirms that the notion of making the Rollins Band's Austin stop at La Zona Rosa this Friday a benefit for Roky Erickson was Hank's own idea. In addition to this benefit, Rollins has previously published a book of Roky's lyrics and poetry (for a review of his latest bound participation, see below), and luckily for Erickson, it seems these days there's almost as many people looking out for him as there are con artists looking for ways to make a buck off him… As much as Rollins tries to "keep it real," the prize for practicing what you preach goes to Tim Kerr this week. The former Big Boy's current combo, the Now Time Delegation, will not be performing with Mudhoney on Sunday at Emo's as planned, because Kerr broke his wrist skateboarding this weekend! The word from Emo's: "That's a real downer, cuz we actually set up this show around the Delegation, just so we could finally hear 'em -- and Mudhoney jumped on the show for the same reason." You still get the Seattle legends along with Young Heart Attack (now minus Bryan Bowden?) and Those Peabodys… Accordion mania strikes Austin this weekend! Not only is Brave Combo playing at the Pier this Saturday, but at the same time, the Accordion Kings hoo-hah will be happening at Old Settler's Park Lakeview Pavillion in Round Rock, with Mingo Saldivar and Step Rideau & the Zydeco Outlaws. If only Wurstfest started early, we could go for some kind of Guinness record for most boxes squeezed (can I say that?)… The new Riddlin' Kids EP is out, and to assure confusion, the five-song teaser for the band's full-length debut was accompanied by a promotional-only five-song "sampler" EP with four different songs on it, sharing only "I Feel Fine" with the commercially released Any Day Now EP. Those meddling Kids will be playing an in-store at Sound Exchange this Friday to promote Any Day Now, which is only available at Waterloo and Sound Exchange, and will also play an "unannounced semi-secret show" later that night w/ some of their favorite local bands. Watch for the full-length, tentatively titled Hurry Up and Wait, in February… Now that they have a local date confirmed, Sept. 22 at Stubb's, Reprise Records confirmed that Wilco and the label have parted ways over the band's new album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Word has it that frontman Jeff Tweedy is currently in New York weighing offers from more than 30 labels, with hopes that the album will be out by year's end… OOPS: One word (or decade, actually) got left out of the plug last week for the upcoming Moore-Weis Children's Center of Austin benefit. Organizer Larry Cordle clarifies: "What we need are Seventies hard rock tributes to well known bands, Rush, AC/DC, Blue Oyster Cult, Van Halen, Zeppelin, Sabbath … that sort of band. We don't want stoner garage bands, either -- we want guys who really throw their nuts into the stuff." If you want to throw your nuts into the stuff, contact info remains the same, Call 603-6889, e-mail [email protected]...

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

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Dancing About Architecture
Dancing About Architecture
Dancing About Architecture
The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."

Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

So Long, Slug
So Long, Slug

Ken Lieck, Dec. 20, 2002


Mambo John Treanor, Jon Dee Graham, KUT, Hayes McCauley, Jazz, Diverse Arts, Henry Rollins

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle