Dancing About Architecture
Steamboat returns, SXSW looms closer.
By Ken Lieck, Fri., March 8, 2002
This Is IT
Here it is. The last issue before next week's big Austin Music Awards issue, which in keeping with tradition, signals the start of South by Southwest 2002. Let the chaos begin! (It's been here at the office for weeks now.) Here, one last time, is the lineup for this year's Awards Show: teen punks the Snobs; "Supergirls," featuring Lord Douglas Phillips, Patrice Pike, Dottie Farrell, Nancy Scott, and Kris Patterson; Spoon; Sixpence None the Richer; a Champ Hood Tribute with Warren Hood & the South Austin Jug Band and Toni Price; a salute to Ray Benson with Asleep at the Wheel, featuring Johnny Gimble and Jimmie Vaughan, and special guests. Vaughan should be beaming at the AMA show given the coup of his most recent album Do You Get the Blues? getting this year's Grammy for Traditional Blues album (Delbert McClinton got it for Contemporary Blues LP). Betcha wish you'd seen him jamming with John Popper and Buddy Guy at the latter's Antone's gig two weeks back. Come to think of it, there'll be a lot of other local musicians beaming at this year's Awards Show, because like every year, the plaques they're getting have been voted on by the public at large, rather than some music-biz sycophant who's been grandfathered onto the academy's voting list. Speaking of the music-biz -- not sycophants, though -- as you read this, time is running out for you to get your SXSW wristbands at $85 a pop rather than $105, which is what they go up to tomorrow, Friday. Call Star Tickets at 469-SHOW to order, or go to www.sxsw.com for more information. See ya at the big show, 7:55pm sharp.
Sheraton and Share Alike
You'd think that the folks at the Empanada Parlour would've let loose with a massive sigh of relief on Friday. That's when the agreement was filed in court between the club and the Sheraton Hotel, who've been at loggerheads over the sound levels coming from the mostly acoustic/ world music venue. Sheraton attorney David Manchaca called the document "an agreement under which we think both [businesses] can continue to operate." Among the agreements in the document, the venue will not be allowed to feature live music Sundays through Wednesdays, and must keep their sound levels to 80dB during the crucial 10pm-2am time period on Thursday through Saturday nights. The Sheraton will "establish a permanent, regularly calibrated sound pressure monitoring system located ... on the property line" dividing the two enterprises. As a result, the Sheraton agrees to drop all pending legislation, pay half the costs in sound-blocking renovations to the Parlour's roof, and provide discount rooms to bands playing at the club (a nice, if irrelevant touch). Sound fairly reasonable? Perhaps, but already "the first shot has been fired," says Parlour booker Damon Lange. On Monday, the venue received a bill for $2,400 from the Sheraton. For what, you ask? Why for their share of the "permanent, regularly calibrated sound pressure monitoring system" that the Sheraton is installing. Keeping in mind that the Sheraton has agreed to pay up to $25,000 for its half of the roof repairs, it doesn't seem like much, but the club (and this writer) can't find anything in the contract to indicate that the Parlour should be expected to chip in on the hotel's noise-o-meter. Beyond that, Lange is cautiously hopeful that there'll be smooth sailing in the future between the two formerly warring parties. "We're hoping that limiting the club's hours will get rid of the bulk of the complaints, anyway," he says. And though the contract specifically provides exceptions during SXSW, he's looking forward to seeing how things run in the heat of that event. Considering how many music industry professionals would be staying there, Lange says he guesses that the hotel is aware that getting the club shut down during SXSW would be "public relations suicide." At the very least, it wouldn't be Texas Friendly.
Christening the Sword of Damocles
It's hard to imagine how last Friday's big Steamboat reopening could have gone any better. Gushy coverage ran on all five local news-bearing channels, the complex lighting/sound/projection system went off without a hitch, and the packed crowd seemed to be made up entirely of people who think Danny Crooks totally rules. There were more bouts of applause throughout Brian Watkins documentary on the club's history, and the segue between that A/V presentation and Vallejo's headlining entrance came off flawlessly. Now the question remains: Can Crooks keep the interest of patrons at a location that is both off the beaten path, and once considered, er, cursed. Margaret Moser says "Yes!" pointing out that with all the government employees in the area, happy hours should do as well there as they do up the street at the Continental Club. Either way, Crooks can probably look forward to avoiding some of the problems that various other clubowners in town have been facing with an unrelenting regularity. At the Hole in the Wall, for instance, the Sword of Damocles seems to be hanging over everyone's heads, though the official line is that everything's still cool until June at least, while at the Metro, it's still "BYOB-land." 50 Mission Crush have their Beginning to Unwind party there this Saturday. "I'm told there will be free beer there," says one band member. "We'll see." We'll see -- now that should be Austin's new bumper sticker slogan. Of course neither club is as bad off as occasional live music host Pato's Tacos, which was gutted by a fire overnight Monday and had no insurance to cover rebuilding. On a final upbeat note, back to the reopenings: Ruta Maya is having its grand unveiling tonight (Thursday) under new ownership. The changes to the downtown venue include a full bar, "loungey" couches, and -- it don't seem that important right now, but it will! -- air conditioning. Art and music make their way back into the club on Saturday with a display of Factory 27's silk-screened posters as DJ Origin Israel, Moonlight Towers, and Oceanic play between 8pm and 2am. Ruta Maya will also be a SXSW venue and offer free singer-songwriter day shows during the week of the music festival.
Welcome David Baerwald to Austin, won't you? We know he's here to stay since he bought Chronicle publisher Nick Barbaro's house, and the guest building in the back alone is enough to make you hang around forever (which doesn't explain why Nick moved out). Anyhow, you can ask him how he's enjoying himself at his local live debut at Stubb's on Monday... What's the biggest gig your band had recently? Never mind. Local songbird Eliza Wren has you beat, so don't even bother. Wren just got back into town after opening for the Beach Boys at the Olympic Games! Luckily, the musicians at the Olympics aren't judged -- between the French and the Russians, Wren probably wouldn't have gotten home for months... If the Offenders are too much for you (see "Second Offense," below), note that the Christian parody band Apologetix, who call themselves a cross between Billy Graham and Weird Al Yankovic, are playing on Friday at the Westlake Fine Arts Auditorium. Request their version of "The Way" by Austin's Fastball, featuring the exploits of "Fast Paul" the apostle... .