Yow! Is March really only a month away? Hard to believe that once again Austin Music Awards ballots are being counted, the once-mellow South by Southwest staff have transformed into blurs of action, and as you read this, there'll be only a bit more than 30 days left before said Music Awards kick off SXSW 2002's festivities. With the local music biz in full swing, Margaret Moser has unveiled this year's AMA lineup. Grammy-hoarders Asleep at the Wheel headline, no doubt with a few special guests up their Western shirt sleeves, supported by "Kiss Me" choristers Sixpence None the Richer, eternal favorites Spoon, and early-teen sensations the Snobs. If you've never seen the last act, let's just say they're the opposite of 'N Sync. As per last week's "Page Two," they'll also be a special tribute to Champ Hood, hosted by Ms. Toni Price, and a drum roll please, a special set from the "Supergirls," who veteran local music scenesters will recognize as parts of Two Nice Girls. There's bound to be a couple surprises thrown in there, but the show date won't be one of them. That'll be Wednesday, March 13, 7:55pm, at the Austin Music Hall with emcee Paul Ray. Over at SXSW proper, there's good news and bad news (ain't that always the case?). Just confirmed for the conference portion of the music fest are Courtney Love and her Hole bandmate Patty Schemel, with the former taking part in a SXSW Interview on Saturday, March 16, at the Convention Center, and the latter speaking as part of the Artists Panel that Friday. The bad news is that, like keynote speaker Robbie Robertson, they're not scheduled to do any performing, music-wise. Robertson will introduce the screening of The Last Waltz at SXSW Film Festival in between plugging the Last Waltz DVD, Last Waltz box set, and Last Waltz home decoupage set. For those of you who only plan on having a wristband this year, they go on sale Thursday, Feb. 21, for $85. For that price, you'll be happy to know that four of the 10 acts on Rolling Stone's list of "Next Wave" acts to watch in 2002 will be performing at SXSW this year. Those "hot, sexy, and next" performers include UK hookmeisters Starsailor, piano jazzercist Norah Jones, masked marvels Clinic, and bassless trio the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. That last act sounds like they should be on Peek-a-Boo, don't it?
If it ain't broke, why fix it? That's likely to be the response of some KUT listeners upon finding that the latest ratings are in and they show Austin's public radio station with its highest numbers ever. The Arbitrons for the latest quarter have KUT at No. 2 overall, and at what KUT Program Director Hawk Mendenhall calls "a strong No. 1" in most categories involving its target demographic of 25 and up, meaning that approximately 170,000 locals are tuned in to the station at some point during a given week. Why have more people been tuning in of late? "When you consider what was going on in the world during the ratings period [mid-Sept. through Dec.]," explains Mendenhall, "there was a huge increase in people checking out our news programming -- and a number of them liked what they heard and hung around." According to Mendenhall, that increase is being called the "Osama bump," and has similarly boosted ratings for many talk-oriented radio stations across the country, and is the basis for the recent massive changes toward a more news-heavy KUT. As far as protests about the changes, Mendenhall says that actually, there were nowhere near what the KUT staff had anticipated, and what fuss there was died down quickly. "I think I got one e-mail and one phone call [of protest] in the last week," he reckons. For now, he's looking to the future while making travel plans for longtime KUT staffer Larry Monroe, who just won a KBA (Keeping the Blues Alive ) Award from the Blues Foundation for his work at the station. KUT will be flying Monroe down to Memphis this Sunday to attend the awards show and help judge a blues band competition.
With Neil Diamond coming to town, you know that the Diamond Smugglers will be playing an "après-Neil show" next Tuesday in desperate hope that the Man himself will finally come sample their wares after he finishes his show at the Erwin Center. Neil, tell your limo driver to head for Club DeVille... For those of you who've been wondering when Austin was gonna have a guitar show, look no further than this weekend, Feb. 9 &10, at the Crockett Center. More info (but not much) is available at sponsor Vintage Guitar magazine's Web site at www.vguitar.com/events/default.asp. For those who can't afford a booth, you gotta love this rule: Anyone is free to sell or trade "as many instruments as you can carry"... In hand at the moment -- an advance copy of Humpty Dumpty LSD, the first volume in a series of Butthole Surfers rarities CDs that the band will begin issuing in May or so. Sample song titles: "One Hundred Million People Dead," "Eindhoven Chicken Masque," "Hetero Skeleton"... Whoever said there's no such thing as bad publicity might want to think twice in the case of convicted cop-killer Randal Hafdahl. Hafdahl marked the end of his time on this plane, Thursday before last, by belting out the Robert Earl Keen lyrics "The road goes on forever and the party never ends!" as a Huntsville executioner sent him into oblivion via lethal injection. Oddly enough, despite the publicity Hafdahl's last words generated, neither Keen nor Joe Ely, whose cover may be better known than the original, has stepped forward to bathe in the spotlight.
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