Dancing About Architecture

The city's noise ordinance proposes to drown out live music in Austin.

Seventy-five decibels for  live outdoor music!  That's Ludacris!
Seventy-five decibels for live outdoor music! That's Ludacris! (Photo By John Anderson)


Let Freedom Ring (Please!)

It's ironic that the week leading up to the climactic meeting on the new Austin noise ordinance was absolutely packed with big live outdoor shows. You had Taj Mahal outside at Stubb's Friday, Ludacris at UT's 40 Acres Fest and the 101X Fest in Waterloo Park on Saturday, plus the Bob Marley Fest both Saturday and Sunday at Auditorium Shores. Hope you enjoyed 'em -- and perhaps this Friday's 2 Live Crew, Sunday's Louisiana Swamp Romp, and Tuesday's Bush show, all at Waterloo Park -- as the city's plans for the future feasibility of such concerts have left many locals disgusted. As you read this, expect members of the local music community to be sleeping off the second of two heated Wednesday night discussions of the proposed new ordinance -- not to mention Tuesday night's tense Austin Music Commission meeting -- that if accepted as written, would drop acceptable decibel levels for amplified music almost in half. On Monday, Ash Corea of the embattled Empanada Parlour was preparing for the worst at the Wednesday meeting, sighing that her business was already "just squeaking by" and that further restrictions would pretty much doom the Parlour. Corea echoes numerous others in decrying what she sees as duplicity on the part of the city, which claims to support the cash cow that is the live music industry, while seemingly doing everything in its power to scuttle the efforts of those who make their living from said industry. Nonetheless, APD's Comdr. Harold Piatt, who drafted the ordinance and presented it at both meetings, says he doesn't believe this would signal the end of live outdoor music, nor that his proposal favors residents over clubowners. "I don't say the residents come first," Piatt asserts, "but the clubowners don't either. They can't do whatever they want for as long as they want and damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. They have the right to a business and the right to play their music, but they don't have the right to infringe on privacy, security, and peace of mind at night -- be it at the Omni, or some guy who has a business on 15th Street and is trying to get some work done and can't because of the thumping bass drum." There are those who believe they have nothing to fear from the new policy, like Emo's owner Frank Hendrix, who says he doesn't really understand why the city thinks that the issue needs to be re-addressed, but he will be attending the meeting along with new Emo's General Manager David Thomson. And then there are those who are interested in compromise, like Stubb's Charles Attal, who says it's not the "where," but rather "when" that's behind the troubles. Though Attal says he doesn't think the new ordinance has been researched enough at present, he sees troubles on the sound front being solvable by ending shows earlier on weekdays. "Going until 2am is what's causing problems," he suggests. Whatever the case, take a look at this week's Politics section (p.20) for more on the situation, and next week's Chronicle for a lot more on the whole. And be prepared. You may want to be wearing earplugs when you read all about it.


Expanding The Limits

The Austin City Limits crew is taking advantage of one of the few remaining "safe" places to have live music in Austin, and is making a very rare move outside their own studios for the ACL 2002 Gala featuring Bonnie Raitt and guests. That gig, May 16, serves as a part of the "pre-Grand Opening" weekend for the expanded Austin Convention Center. A limited number of tickets have been made available to the public via www.texasboxoffice.com at $40 and $50 apiece, and the show itself will air as the 28th season's premiere episode in October. Also on the taping schedule for this season: Ratdog with Bob Weir May 1, Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas May 3, the Flatlanders June 21, Ralph Stanley and Norah Jones in August, and the Blind Boys of Alabama in September, with Pat Metheny among those yet to be scheduled. Meanwhile, the Austin Music Network's Reel Austin DVDs are available now, and while I've only gotten to watch one of the defective (and since recalled) advance copies, the part of mine that plays is mighty impressive. The DVD contains a fleet of local videos, both live and conceptual, and is a bible-by-observation of how to make an impressive music clip on little or no budget, from the kitsch of Joe King Carrasco to the computer animation of Spoon. Oh, and all proceeds go to start-up costs for the Doug Sahm Medocino Clinic. On the national front, Keith Richards, Matchbox Twenty, Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Lee Ann Womack, the Dixie Chicks, Brian McKnight, Emmylou Harris, and numerous others joined Willie Nelson recently for a get-together that the USA Network will air as Willie Nelson & Friends: Stars and Guitars May 27.


Prize Possessions

Here's a good one. What do Eric Johnson, Bobby Doyle, Kelly Willis, Dino Lee, Zeitgeist, aka the Reivers, Jody Denberg, and Storyville have in common? They all have unclaimed Austin Music Award certificates dating back to 1986, according to the mistress of the show Margaret Moser. The errant awards were recently discovered in the Chronicle's storage space in "an unobtrusive bin," she says, admitting to being "too lazy to call the musicians personally." Gary P. Nunn, the Recliners, the SIMS Foundation, poster artists Daniel Allen and Krank Von Shafft, the Ugly Americans, John Croslin, the Bells of Joy, Paradox, Chris Layton, Tish Hinojosa, Tim Kerr, Junior Brown, and Michael Corcoran are among the other award-less names. Moser notes a disproportionate number of awards from the 1996-97 show, and reports that musicians may stop into the paper during office hours to pick up the awards before we start offering them to those who took the No. 2 positions for the categories involved.


Mixed Notes

This Austin Music Foundation thing seems to be getting off on a good foot. Their next Music Industry Bootcamp Seminar is "Getting & Promoting the Gigs You Want" and is free for those who are interested. Check it out this coming Monday, 6-8pm, at the Lucky Lounge. Speakers include Brad First and Stephanie Seeley from Antone's, Amy Corbin (Stubb's), David Cotton (Saxon Pub, the Pier, and Hanover's), local booking agent Rebecca Dunlap, Vickie Lucero and Julie Carr of the Propaganda Group, and Wendy Morgan from the Convention Center & Visitor's Bureau. If you can't get a gig after listening to this group, give it up... Finally, as we were going to press, the Chronicle received a release from the SIMS foundation dated April 23 announcing the resignation of Peyton Wimmer as executive director of the local, nonprofit mental health foundation. According to the release, he'll remain an honorary board member, with said board looking to name a new executive director in the near future. More on this next week. Let the letters begin anew...

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More Dancing About Architecture
Dancing About Architecture
Dancing About Architecture
The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."

Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

So Long, Slug
So Long, Slug

Ken Lieck, Dec. 20, 2002

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Noise ordinance, APD Commander Harold Piatt, Charles Attal, Stubb's, Ludacris, Austin City Limits, Bonnie Raitt, Reactors, SIMS, Peyton Wimmer, Clay Blaker

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