Dancing About Architecture
By Ken Lieck, Fri., Nov. 16, 2001
Say goodbye to another Danny Crooks enterprise. The former Steamboat captain phoned the Chronicle on Monday to announce that effective immediately, he had severed ties with the Vibe, the Sixth Street club he had molded out of Fat Tuesdays into a Steamboat for the new millennium. "I couldn't get along with the owner," said Crooks in a not-very-happy voice mail to this column. Owner Frank Alterman concurs, saying the split was "sad, because I really like Danny, and he really worked hard on this project." The falling-out occurred, according to Alterman, over the fact that Crooks wanted him to fire some employees who had been loyal to the club(s) for many years, and when Alterman refused to do so, the pair reached an impasse. "We're still gonna go on as the Vibe, without 'the big man,'" but with the same type of music and atmosphere, says Alterman, admitting he's aware that Crooks draws strong loyalty as well, and some bands will likely follow him to his next venue, wherever that may be. In fact, Crooks asked this columnist to let bands know their gigs were off, but as far as I can tell, said gigs are only canceled if the band wants to side with Crooks and not play at the "new" Vibe.
Meanwhile, the plane crash in Queens, New York, on Monday may have been the final nail in the coffin of the Red Eyed Fly as we know it. Queens native Rob Swift of the X-ecutioners has become the third act to cancel a show at the Fly due to terrorist fears, says the club's Anthony Garcia, who says he's personally lost $2,500 along the way. Garcia says that in general, the "indie rock mecca" of Red River has one club too many, and he's afraid the Fly is it, even though the Fly has been trying to carve a new niche by taking on a more world music-and-techno focus in recent months. Garcia adds that he's recommended to owner John Meyer that he should either give up on the club or turn it into a no-cover lounge with "limited music." That would mean you'll see live acts at the Fly only during South by Southwest or when an act comes along that the management is absolutely sure they can't lose money on. Whatever changes occur, expect to see them soon.
Now that the Fly's moved their live music inside as of a month ago, at least their worries regarding the noise lawsuit brought by neighbors Joseph Rhode and Annette Harrelson-Hensz are over, right? No such luck; Harrelson-Hensz says she's had no problem with the club since they moved things inside, but pointedly adds that a few days isn't enough to gauge whether the problem has been solved. "We'll just have to see what the future holds," she concludes.
Of course this leads us to the poor Empanada Parlour for their latest melodrama, which would be soap-opera fascinating if it weren't so real-life frustrating. As if they weren't under enough pressure with their own noise lawsuit brought by the Sheraton Hotel, the Parlour was visited a couple of weeks ago midshow by two suits from the TABC and informed they needed to pay up two months of back liquor taxes and a $3,000 surety bond. A surety bond is basically an assurance that no matter what happens to a business, the state gets their money, and the "snowball effect" that's used in calculating the amount of surety required is one of the government's most effective tools in assuring that small business can never gain a foothold and prosper in today's economy. Sure enough, after investigating the matter, the Parlour found that because of the late payments their surety bond was actually $25,000 -- and they had eight hours to pay it off or be shut down! Miraculously, they managed to secure a loan for the amount due within the allotted time. The Parlour is out of the woods, but only for the moment, and only in the most technical sense. "Nobody's getting paid, including myself," says booker Damon Lange of the tight spot the Parlour is in, adding bluntly, "I'll keep working for free for as long as it takes."
Finally, I just got confirmation that Gaby & Mo's will be closing its doors for good come December 15. "We've been struggling from the get-go," says co-owner Patty Carbajel, "and we thought when the students came back things would get better, but they didn't." Carbajel plans on trying to get new investors and hopefully open another venue in the next year or so.
Viva la Difference!
Visitors to the Waterloo Ice House at Sixth and Lamar may get a surprise as soon as early next year. Then, or sometime not too long after, the Waterloo sign will be taken down to be replaced by one that says, er, Waterloo? Okay, so it's not really that confusing; Waterloo Records is expanding and Waterloo Ice House will be moving on to make room for the record/CD/video/DVD store's growth. "We've had the option to expand for some time now," says Waterloo (Records) head honcho John Kunz, and despite any downturn in the general economy, the longtime Austin favorite has continued to grow. Scott Hentschel at the Igloo Group, owners and operators of the Ice House, says the company is "very committed" to finding a new location in the downtown area and that the relocated Ice House will "do the same thing, only better." For now, he reminds people that they're still going to be open at their current spot for an undetermined time. Which means that the sign won't be changing (somewhat) for a few months at the very least.
Tortilla Flats have a new 7-inch Doug Sahm tribute out, cleverly titled Tortilla Flats Play Doug Sahm, and it'll be available on the anniversary of the Texas Tornado's death, Nov. 18, when the Flats, Conrads, Superego, Shandon Sahm, and the Texas Mavericks play the Hole in the Wall's Sunday night Free For All in remembrance... Danny Crooks fave Steamroller is officially calling it quits after eight years, seven CDs, and several hundred live shows. Following a New Year's Eve gig at Lucy's, the band will play their farewell show in January. Sinis, on the other hand, have declared their New Year's gig at the Flamingo Cantina will be their last, plain and simple. And with Silver Scooter having had their final gig last Saturday, it looks like club bookers should have plenty of room under "S" in their little black books these days... A quick recommendation for Austin Outbound's "BBQ, Blues, and Scenic Views" mini-tour of Austin, which over the course of an evening takes you from Mount Bonnell to Dry Creek Saloon to Sam's BBQ before concluding at "one or more of Austin's cherished juke joints, dives, or saloons." In the sample I took, that last bit meant Nasty's and an optional continuance to the Continental Club, and overall, the trip was as crazy, fun, and chaotic as it should be. The musical entertainment along the way included Foscoe Jones and Michael Rubin, Floramay Holliday and Shelly King, and Neal Kassanof and Jimmy Stewart (acts are booked specially to wait at the various destinations and play when the bus arrives at each one). Call Austin Outbound at 478-3018 for prices and other details. And I gotta tell ya, if I'd known there was a free open bar at the top of Mount Bonnell, I woulda been climbing up there more often... PS for the easily confused: Of course when I said "temporary backup band" in the case of Toni Price I meant that she's not necessarily found a permanent replacement in the lineup for the late Champ Hood, not that she's ditched the rest of her regular team. Sheesh! On the subject of Continental Club favorites, I'm sad to report that as we're going to press here on Wednesday, word comes that "Shoeshine-- Charley Miller has passed away at the age of 64. We'll have more details next week, but it's probably safe to say that this weekend at the South Congress speakeasy that was his home, his shoeshine chair will become a shoe shrine...