Dancing About Architecture
Noise ordinance debate blows over -- for now -- while Internet radio crisis threatens, and SIMS crisis subsides.
Texas Music On the Road
The long and twisted history of the Texas Music Museum, which as of now exists only as a set of touring exhibits, appears to be headed down yet another road -- literally! For years, a local group has been attempting to establish a proper Texas Music Museum here in Austin. More recently, the battle began brewing over which city in Texas truly deserved to be the home of such an institution. Finally, a few weeks ago, a committee featuring luminaries Casey Monahan of the Governor's Music Office, Clay Shorkey with Austin's Texas Music Museum project, Wayne Miller from the Texas Music Hall of Fame Foundation, Austin City Council Member Will Wynn, and Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson met for the purpose of coming up with a recommendation for the state Legislature. One interesting discussion point was Houston blues preservationist Steve Sucher's idea of using music to focus on "Cultural Tourism" in Texas. Sucher suggests "Travel Itineraries" on the existing trails of the Texas Historical Commission, in effect making the entire state a sort of intertwining museum. He points to ongoing grassroots efforts to restore the gravesite of Blind Lemon Jefferson in Wortham; international fans (like the Clash) trekking to Lubbock to tour the boyhood sites of Buddy Holly; the statue and museum honoring Lefty Frizzell in Corsicana; statues of Tex Ritter and Jim Reeves, plus the Texas Country Music Museum in Carthage, Texas; the newly completed statue of Sam "Lightnin'-- Hopkins and the World Championship Fiddlers Festival in Crockett; the Mance Lipscomb Blues Festival in Navasota ... and he doesn't even get around to Austin's Stevie Ray Vaughan statue or the Doug Sahm memorial in San Antone. "What's been lacking to date," says Sucher, "is a statewide effort to promote this musical heritage as a cornerstone of cultural tourism." It might appear that if this plan is put into effect, Texas music history would be best served by the Texas Music Museum staying right where it is -- nowhere (and everywhere) -- but Monahan counters that, as he sees it, the trail aspect of Texas' music heritage project accounts for only around 10% of the committee's work. "The other 90% is to investigate whether there's support for a Texas Music Museum" he explains. And could that museum possibly end up in Austin? Despite what this reporter has encountered at Austin Music Commission meetings and elsewhere, Monahan says he's never heard of any other Texas city seriously trying to grab the museum and run off with it. Currently, the committee continues to look at the big picture and make suggestions to House Speaker Pete Laney. The next step would be for a legislator to file a bill to make something happen, which unfortunately won't be until at least next January when the next session begins. "Cultural tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry," asserts Sucher. "All that's required now is a way to organize the existing chorus of voices into a choir." And then, it seems, to get that choir on the road again.
The Tale of the Tape
Hot on the heels of a landmark court decision that kept Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics to "Hey, Jude" off the auction block, a similar if not more bizarre story has erupted here in Texas. An eBay auction of a cassette that was apparently lifted off Merle Haggard's tour bus has been halted in the wake of said C&W icon winning a court injunction against the tape's sale. Kathy Schroeder, a concert promoter in Fredericksburg, was allegedly attempting to get $325,000 for the purloined tape, which contained rough mixes of Haggard's latest material, intended for an upcoming album. The story, via the Associated Press, had ol' Haggard feeling, er, haggard, and canceling an Oct. 27 show that Schroeder had arranged, sending his tour bus full of musicians in his stead. When the bus got back to California, it was short a cassette tape that had been seen prior to the promoter popping in to say hello. Haggard's lawyers are planning to press theft and/or other charges, but say that their first priority was to stop the possible spread of bootleg copies, since what was stolen was, in effect, Haggard's intellectual property. The AP quotes Haggard saying, "It's like she kidnapped my children."
On a related note, it seems that Dino Lee knows just how the Hag feels. The local crooner/Ocean's 11 club owner, who performs under the moniker Mr. Fabulous, is still reeling from the recent theft of his "book," the musical charts that allow his band Casino Royale to perform a large selection of the standards that make up their lengthy sets. From a couple hundred tunes, Lee says he's now down to around 60 following the theft. "We used to be able to do three or four sets and never do the same song twice," he says. "Now -- well, now we do some songs twice!" The charts, says Lee, have some potential value, but are not the sort of item one would normally steal for purposes of making a big profit. Rumor has it that a disgruntled former band member made off with the precious pages, but Lee declines to speculate on the whys and wherefores of the matter. Currently, he says, he's going about the business of slowly but steadily paying to have the charts rewritten and get back up to 100% as his band continues its weekly Thursday 7:30-9:30pm Vegas-style revue at Romeo's Midtown, 2222 and Burnet Road. Haggard's not nearly so forgiving about his "children," however; a May 13 hearing on the cassette case has been scheduled in Kerrville.
Management for Schatzi downplays the band's label, Mammoth Records, recently being folded into its sister label at Disney, Hollywood Records. Seems Hollywood has more staffers to work the local act, which is currently sitting at No. 20 on the CMJ college radio charts... Visitors to the Pecan Street Festival last weekend probably didn't pay much attention to the team of artists painting names of performers across the front of what used to be the Metro. Hopefully they'll pay more attention when the music starts; Paul Oveisi, the owner of Momo's, has a new venue named Six of Clubs opening there this weekend. Weekend acts include Ian Moore, Vallejo, Reckless Kelly, Blue October, Endochine, Dahebegebees, Los Lonely Boys, Sun Vocina, Feeding 5000, and more... If you're heading south on I-35, the Tejano-Conjunto Festival is happening this week at Rosedale Park in San Antonio. It kicked off on Wednesday and ends Sunday night. The big Sunday show starts at noon and features Los Texmaniacs de Max Baca, Los Longoria, Los Nobles, Los Pinkys, Angel Flores, Nick Villareal, Grupo Vida, Flaco Jimenez, and the Hometown Boys. For more info visit www.guadalupeculturalarts.org... Where did those cuddly Belle & Sebastian folks wander while in our fair city last week? Word is they enjoyed some karaoke at Club DeVille, but since one member was sporting a Beerland T-shirt onstage at the Backyard, that gives credence to theories that they migrated farther down Red River at some point in their journeys. In any case, it would appear they wished to show off what they knew about Austin as much as possible, to the extent that they asked for a show of hands to determine which audience members had appeared in Slacker and Dazed and Confused (notably, Wiley Wiggins did not raise his hand). Not only that, but at one point in their show (see "Live Shots"), they claimed that they were about to perform a Butthole Surfers song. Instead, they ended up doing "Texarkana Baby" by Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys, but really, there's no reason they couldn't have cribbed Eugene Chadbourne's bluegrass rendition of "The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave"... For Mother's Day, Stephen Bruton, Helen Darling, Alejandro Escovedo, Craig Fuller, and Kostas perform in the round on Saturday, May 11, at Momo's, 6:30-9:30pm, with a concert that benefits the Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin. On the other hand, you might prefer to take Mumsy to Beerland to enjoy that night's benefit for BUST magazine. Performing are Same Day Service, Regrettes, Magnetic IV, and Lewinsky, with participation from Gynomite, and performance artist Jack Off... You'd think the bit in last week's Chronicle about how he'd maybe "say 'Fuck this!' and go home" would've been a clue, but sure enough, old Grandpaboy himself, Paul Westerberg blew off his appearance at Waterloo Records, citing "exhaustion" after dealing with the rockin' extremes of doing 10 acoustic shows in record stores (out of 12 that were scheduled). In his defense, Westerberg's people say he had to endure an endless wait between flights a few days before, and it had done him in. There have been claims that the Austin date will be rescheduled, but frankly, I doubt it. Rather than wait for Paul's return, I suggest some sort of replacement activity to keep you busy, instead... Dino Lee's club Ocean's 11 isn't the only one serving food these days (though he promises a full gourmet menu until 1:30am!). The Greezy Wheels Hump Day Happy Hour at Steamboat now has food, provided by Threadgill's, no less. In addition to the band's music, there will be snacks until they're gone every Wednesday, and the band now plays until 8pm -- though cover starts at 7pm, so you true cheapskates need to get there early. Meanwhile, as the Greezys continue their song of the month CD series, and they wish it explained to fans that their last entry was inadvertently issued in a not-so-good mix. The song, "Yo Yo Yo (You Big Fat Liar)," will be partially re-cut, completely remixed, and re-mastered before the songs are assembled on the band's upcoming album... "David Bowie's Meltdown 2002" is the classic rocker's big display of his "favourite" artists in a month of music, film, and visual arts in London, featuring the likes of the Dandy Warhols, Coldplay, Pete Yorn, Supergrass, Television ... and our own Daniel Johnston paired with the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, from whom Bowie borrowed the Stardust moniker for his own Ziggy Stardust creation. Seeing as the chameleon-like Bowie needs a new look these days, can't you just imagine him standing between the two, scratching his chin and deciding whether to appropriate Johnston's "plump kid with juice of a triple cheeseburger dribbling down a dirty old T-shirt" image or the Ledge's "skinny-boy screaming with his pants around the ankles" motif. Scary monsters, indeed!