Dancing About Architecture
More Austin music news
Maggie Mae (Or Mae Not!)
All hell broke loose this week following a report in last Thursday's XLent by Michael Corcoran that longtime Sixth Street venue Maggie Mae's was switching to a "pay to play" policy. "Pay to play" is a setup, long in use at some Los Angeles venues, in which bands provide a deposit (in this case, allegedly $500) to perform in the club, and are paid out of what profits (if any) that exceed the deposit. This tale was spreading before the Statesman gave it ink, but here at "Dancing About Architecture," I decided that it was the club's decision to make (albeit a dumb one), and figured that frankly, who cared about a live music venue that traffics mostly in cover bands. Well, in the ensuing ruckus the Austin Federation of Musicians has issued a decree damning the club, while the Internet has been flooded with posts and e-mails suggesting everything from picketing Maggie Mae's to simply avoiding the club. Further investigation into the matter, however, reveals one small problem in all this fervor -- Maggie Mae's owner Bill Shea claims that the whole story is a complete fabrication.
"Everybody seems to have talked to everybody except me," he says. "You're the first one to contact me." He explains that "someone in the booking profession" mentioned the idea to him recently, "but I didn't think it would work; we haven't changed a thing." The AFM's Ginger Shults, meanwhile, says it's not her job to investigate sources. "Whenever something like this happens," she says, "the Union's job is to get the word out to people." She says she has since received a message from the club calling the whole thing a "misunderstanding." After an assertion that he did indeed speak to Shea, Corcoran simply says, "I stand by my story -- that's my official quote." Whether or not "pay or play" was ever really in the future for Maggie Mae's, Shea's none too happy about people telling him how to run his business. "If [a pay-to-play policy] had credence, I'd try it," he says. "It's not like we'd be holding a gun to anybody's head."
Survey Says ... Party On!
The sudden zealousness that seems to have seized local musicians of late has had its good results as well, of course. The Austin Music Commission's meeting-cum-announcement-party at Antone's last Thursday was an unprecedented success, with up to 150 people in the room at one point. That number may not seem like much, but on average, such attempts to get the music community together (notwithstanding those with food provided) tend to draw more along the lines of seven to 10 "concerned citizens," max. The party was held to celebrate the release of a city commissioned study of music's impact on Austin's economy ($616 million brought in per annum), and according to Wendy Morgan, director of music marketing at the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, those in attendance included studio and record company owners, union folks, and numerous others who simply care about music in Austin. Morgan says she's undaunted by the lack of any City Council members at the bash, noting that with the current economy, they're dealing with bigger issues. The party, says Morgan, provided an opportunity for John Hockenyos, who prepared the study, to give people in the music community "a chance to get together and talk about things -- it opened up a lot of conversations." As far as whether the timing of the study's release has been unfortunate, Morgan deflects that, "If we'd had it before [the slowdown], would they have pulled the money anyway?"
Speaking of events performing beyond expectations, the Soap Creek reunion at La Zona Rosa on Sunday proved to be an SRO occasion, and those in attendance weren't disappointed. Organizers Speedy Sparks and Kerry Awn were as surprised as they were pleased about its success, but no more so than Soap Creek owners George and Carlyne Majewski, who sometimes found themselves directing crowd traffic and overseeing the door, just like the old days. Denim, the Uranium Savages, Greezy Wheels, Freda & the Firedogs, Alvin Crow, Shawn Sahm & Augie Meyers, Paul Ray & the Cobras, and the Lubbock Mafia kept the music flowing faster than Lone Star could be served, and already people are asking when the Liberty Lunch and Electric Lounge reunions are coming. That and when Shawn Sahm is just gonna go ahead and start up the "Sir Shawn Quintet" as a full-time deal... Speaking of which, the Tornado Band (aka the Texas Tornados backing guys) will be playing a New York firemen's benefit at Manor Downs on November 3, says drummer Ernie Durawa, who was in Amsterdam on 9/11 but narrowly survived recording an album with Eugene Chadbourne. Durawa also has been recording of late with Hungarian singer Judy Alpert, Tracy Lamar, and Merle Haggard, and says he hears that an old El Molino song is due to show up soon on a movie soundtrack... Since we're on benefits, don't forget the one for Atomic City's Prince next Thursday at Beerland, 10pm-2am. Tim Kerr and Spot will be playing DJ, spinning Sixties soul, ska, and funk so that patrons of Atomic City can help Prince with his medical bills by breaking in that footwear they bought at the store... Changes at SXSW: Jeff McCord has moved on to the post of music director for KUT-FM, leaving Andy Flynn solely in charge of panels this year. I'll have to pitch in and give him a hand. Step one, bring back "Rock & Roll Jeopardy," even if VH1 has since stolen the idea and made a mockery of it... For those of you heartbroken by the lack of Fastball updates: Kinks man Ray Davies is an avid Austin-lover, it seems. Not content to merely dedicate "Waterloo Sunset" to the city at his La Zona Rosa show last Friday, he then brought up former local boy-turned-Nashvillian Miles Zuniga to join him for a round of "Sunny Afternoon." I expect audience member Britt Daniel was at least one shade greener than the other envious audience members around him... A decade after his disappearance following a major drug bust, Dan Del Santo's ex-wife Anne Sherwood reports that the World Music man has died. Sherwood says that having suffered from diabetes and chronic back pain for many years, Del Santo, 50, was forced to take numerous pain pills and twice before had been hospitalized for internal bleeding. This third time, there was insufficient blood available locally and the musician, who lived in a small village outside Oaxaca and performed regularly under the name Daniel Del Santo (mmm, clever), could not be saved, according to Sherwood. She adds that his death has left her "struggling with ambivalence," having received no contact from Del Santo since his disappearance, but hearing two or three times a year from the U.S. marshal. She says she got the news from her son, who got it from Del Santo's brother, who got it from Del Santo's girlfriend, so the Chronicle has as yet been unable to get 100% confirmation on his passing. So who knows, maybe we'll still not see Dan Del Santo around for years to come...