Dancing About Architecture
The rain couldn't stop the flood of Austin's outdoor music shows last weekend.
The Rain Won't Help You When It's Over
It started as a gusher of musical activity (notably Bill Jeffery screeching his way through "Highway to Hell" with the True Believers at the Continental Club on Monday), and ended as a Noah-type flood. Oh, sure, the total precipitation only added up to about half an inch, but it was enough to fill the mud pit I call a driveway and make my commute to work Monday look like the gun just went off at a dirt bike rally. Even before the weekend started, the first of three nights of String Cheese Incident at Waterloo Park on Thursday raised the question: Can any show that starts later than a bigger show be called an "after-party"? Whatever the answer, it didn't stop every show that night from being touted as an after-party, be it the Club DeVille show by the Dung Beatles, the Spacetruck and Pong bash at the Mercury, or the Spoonfed Tribe show at Stubb's, which was the official after-party show, since Stubb's brought the Cheese in the first place. While the Pongers say they're a tad peeved about their show being misrepresented -- but very happy about the monstrous crowd -- I was caught off-guard by the Dung Beatles sound check running late and was forced to burst onto the bus of Thursday night openers Tenacious D to present invites to the thoroughly unimpressed Jack Black and Kyle Gass.
Friday's crowd for the String Cheezers and opening act the Weary Boys was huge as well, and even though drizzle continued throughout Saturday, that didn't stop the final show, with openers Jackie Pepper, from drawing the largest crowd of all three, making for a total of some 12,000 paid attendees, plus innumerable folks who hung out beyond the fence and dug the tuneage. Ironically, the wet weather drove too many people into the Vibe that night, resulting in the Sixth Street club getting shut down for the evening by the Fire Department. The Texas Relays Block Party had brought people to the area earlier in the evening, and that show, featuring Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh, shut down at midnight, as the skies sent down more and more moisture, so guess where everyone wanted to go? Inside, correct!
In most cases, this meant good crowds rather than dangerous overcrowding Saturday night. At the Mercury, for instance, the Malachy Papers opened to a small crowd, but the room started to fill up with a post-String Cheese crowd, and by the time Hairy Apes BMX took the stage, there was dancing aplenty. With skies continuing to darken overnight, however, decisions had to be made for Sunday's outdoor shows. Saturday's portion of the Backyard's 10th-season grand opening, with Willie Nelson and Los Lonely Boys, had gone fine, and so did Sunday's show -- once it had been rescheduled for Monday. John Kunz says he's glad that Waterloo Records managed to move their parking lot party to La Zona Rosa on Sunday, even though Toni Price dropped off the bill, Alejandro Escovedo stuck by his longstanding La Zona boycott, and the Derailers played without Tony Villanueva, who had been in the hospital with pneumonia earlier in the week.
Another notable no-show was Willie Nelson, who was expected at Texas Folklife Resources' Johnny Gimble honorarium at the Paramount on Saturday, but the Red Headed Stranger never made it. Wheelchair-bound Don Walser did roll into his own benefit Sunday, however, even duetting with Ray Benson on a couple of songs the two co-wrote, including "Texas Top Hand." "No Grand Ole Opry, no National Heritage Award, no show or honor anywhere compared to what went on last night," said a grateful Walser the next day. The show ended up raising almost enough to cover the cost of wheelchair-access modifications to his home, which run about $5,500 or so. With those financial worries behind him, Walser will no doubt be popping wheelies in no time.
So, in the end, we managed to survive another week of Texas weather, and as of the writing of this column, the climatic conditions look good for this weekend, which has its own notable outdoor shows. On Friday, there's the Lance Armstrong Foundation's "Rock for the Roses" show down at Auditorium Shores, featuring Stone Temple Pilots, Cake, Crystal Method, and Austin's own Patrice Pike & the Black Box Rebellion. Ticket holders for next weekend's 101X Springfest at Waterloo Park should note that P.O.D. has dropped off the bill, and that the show is now free. That being the case, those tix are refundable, but will also be honored at this weekend's "Rock for the Roses" show.
Also happening this weekend, is Saturday's big "Lone Star Rod & Kustom Round-Up" car show at House Park Stadium (12th & Lamar), 11am-7pm. That's brought to you in part by the folks at the Continental Club, with the show itself featuring the Sir Finks, Mike Barfield & the Hollisters, Derailers, Blazers, Paladins, and others
Check the club's ad for their kustom shows Friday and Saturday, and see the Chron's write-up on the event on p.64.
Finally, on Sunday, note the Keith Ferguson Memorial Crawfish Boil at Robbie's Cajun Kitchen, 1203 W. Sixth, 3-9pm, with musical guests Cedryl Ballou & the Zydeco Trendsetters, R&B legend Classie Ballou Sr., and the Gulf Coast Playboys. That's in the parking lot 'round back, so that, too, is subject to the elements. And for God's sake stay tuned to the outdoor concert watch; next weekend there's the Bob Marley Festival at Auditorium Shores, and the Old Settler's Music Festival at the Salt Lick Pavilion.
Last November, acting on an increasing number of complaints, the Austin Police Department began reviewing the City Noise Ordinance with the idea of drafting a new and improved one. Apparently they're finishing said document now, as notice is going around that Austin residents are being invited to attend an open forum to discuss and review it next Wednesday, April 17, 7pm, in room 105 of the Waller Creek Building (625 E. 10th). What changes are afoot in the new revised Austin Noise Ordinance? Senior APD officer/Downtown District Representative Desiree J. Small says she hasn't seen a copy of the new ordinance yet, but confirms that the raft of complaints have been coming mostly from the Waller Creek area and from people moving into new downtown residential digs. (Can you say "I told you so?" I thought you could.) She points out that an update is needed because, "A lot of things we were doing on Sixth Street don't apply" to other areas of town. For instance, she notes that the distance from which decibel levels should be checked might be different as far as a club in the middle of the entertainment district is concerned, due to the different levels of other sounds in the area. So, is this just a matter of whiners moving into an area because they're cool, then bitching until they drive away the nightclubs and festivities that made the neighborhood cool in the first place? "[Those new residents] will have to compromise," Small says, quickly adding that so will the clubs and venues already in place there. Truth is, explains Small, that "the city is trying to create a new image of itself," one that centers around this supposedly beautiful fantasy of a heavily residential downtown. "Having residential and entertainment [sharing downtown] is good for everybody," says Small. "We work here, we live here -- and we want to make it more fair for everybody." If you're part of "everybody," show up at the meeting and make your feelings known, or else you've got no excuse if everybody gets their way at your expense.
As both a journalist/author and singer-songwriter, Michael Hall has proven that he's capable of both the acts of rocking and reading. Thus it's logical that his current band the Woodpeckers will be at the Continental Club tonight, Thursday, 6-9pm, for "Rock 'n' Read," which also features David Richards reading from his new book, Once Upon a Time in Texas: A Liberal in the Lone Star State, and Jan Reid excerpting The Bullet Meant for Me. The Peckers will be coming directly from the CD release for their new album, Lucky Too, which is also at Waterloo Records, 5pm. For a review of said disc, see this issue's "Texas Platters," p.56... There's a memorial jam this Sunday, 7pm, at the Red Eyed Fly for local scenester Lee Spencer, with musical performances by Broken Teeth, Shandon Sahm, and Jon Sanchez... I had a permanently stoned one, a half-deaf one, two in a row that moved unexpectedly to Arizona, and now I've got one who can't be bothered to make it to rehearsals. And yet somehow, despite my own inability to attract a reasonably decent one, this city continues to attract the finest drummers in the world! Add a new name to the list that includes Terry Bozzio, Pat Mastelotto, and such, as studio beatmaster Donnie Wynn has recently relocated to Austin from Nashville. Wynn, who provided the beat for all those funky Robert Palmer hits, and more recently has been working with Brooks & Dunn, was just at Pedernales Studios with Jon Blondell, John Inman, and Riley Osborne, backing up Andrea Fairless on some tracks for her new album. Wynn is easy to spot, also, as his taste in dresses is far superior to that of former mayoral candidate Leslie, who was the subject of a few fine quips from none other than Robin Williams, at his Bass Concert Hall stand-up show Tuesday night. Who knew Mork liked eating elbow?...