Southern Rock Opera

SXSW 02 Music Fest Wrap-up

Pine Valley Cosmonauts

Mother Egan's, Saturday 16 If you think it's difficult putting together a cameo-laden benefit album about murder and capital punishment, try pulling it off onstage. This was the challenge assumed by the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, a mostly Chicago collective spearheaded by Mekon/Waco Brother Jon Langford, and successfully accomplished in their edifying and engaging The Executioner's Last Songs, 18 songs to benefit the Illinois Death Penalty Moratorium Project. Not surprising, in a set where each song had a different lineup, PVC's opening slot of this Bloodshot Records showcase was a bit disorganized. Some singers used lyrical cheat sheets, yet overall the effort was a success, particularly when the ladies took the mike. Dean Schlabowske of the Waco Brothers began the proceedings nicely with "Gary Gilmore's Eyes," Sally Timms and Langford backing him with pure harmonies. Washington, D.C.'s Jenny Toomey breathed dramatic life into Cole Porter's "Miss Otis Regrets," Timms following with a fine rendition of the appropriate "Long Black Veil," even though it's not on Executioner's Songs. Jo Walston, lead pipes for Austin's Meat Purveyors, sang "Hanged Man" with such panache that her short appearance was the showcase highlight. Langford interpreted Chris Ligon's witty "The Great State of Texas," and very appropriate it was, although his unrefined delivery lessened the song's punch. Save for such occasional missteps, and a surfeit of guitars (did they really need four?), it was a worthwhile showcase for a worthwhile cause, proving that politically-directed music doesn't have to be dour.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 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 by David Lynch
Rock & Roll Summer Reading
How Can I Keep From Singing?: The Ballad of Pete Seeger

May 30, 2008

Texas Platters
That Damned Band
999 Surreal Eyes (Record Review)

Feb. 15, 2008


Pine Valley Cosmonauts

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

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