Dancing About Architecture

Another festival weekend, this time jazz; plus Mars Music not going under, and Bill Hicks -- still dead, more CDs.

Dancing About Architecture

On the Air in October

Non-jazz fans can look forward to the remaining October nights as well. For those wishing to take a little trip down the road, there's the Bocktober Fest concert in Shiner, Texas, on Saturday, where the brewery will feature Robert Earl Keen, Collective Soul, the Great Divide, Derailers, Patrice Pike, and Max Stalling. Here in Austin, there's an interesting music-related activity on the broadcasting front. For one, the popular NPR show e-town is headed to Austin to shoot an episode with Los Lobos and Old and in the Gray, featuring Peter Rowan, David Grisman, Vassar Clements, Herb Pedersen, and local Bryn Bright. That's at the Austin Music Hall on Oct. 28, 8:30-10:30pm. Locally, e-town broadcasts Sundays at 7pm on 107.1 KGSR, with upcoming broadcasts including Patty Griffin & the Blind Boys of Alabama (10/20) and Steve Earle & Riders in the Sky (10/28). On the TV front, Ray Benson, fresh from playing the Antone's afterparty for Jonathan Demme's new flick The Truth About Charlie, has been picked by Country Music Television to tape a one-hour pilot variety program about Texas music. The tentative title is Planet Texas, and the taping is Oct. 24 at the Riverbend Center. The format is part-interview, part-music, with a monologue, and some sketches thrown in as well. Guests for the pilot include Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Bruce Robison, and "a killer house band." Look for the show to air in February or March, and let's hope that the all-Austin/Texas-produced show gets picked up, as Benson promises lots of Texas talent involved in what he calls "a cross between the Prairie Home Companion, the Grand Ole Opry, and David Letterman." Benson says that segments are already being planned for the future, my favorite one is called "What Would Willie Do" (after the Bruce Robison tune), in which those with problems can ask advice from the great sage himself. Also on the tube, don't forget Spoon's appearance on the Conan O'Brien show Nov. 6. If you can't wait that long, the video for Spoon's "Small Stakes," made in Austin by Peter and Julie Simonite, should be airing this Sunday on MTV2's 120 Minutes.

Is There Life on Mars?

Despite a well publicized bout with bankruptcy court for Mars Music, those in Austin who depend on the local Mars store for their strings and things need not worry. Local management declined to comment regarding the chain's troubles, but the Miami Herald and other sources have reported that the Florida-based company has closed several stores in 2002 after five years of trying to grab a sizeable percentage of an industry still dominated by "mom and pop" stores. The company made their problems public last month by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and moving into Chapter 13 reorganization. The Austin Mars outlet is, however, one of the chain's strongest, and insiders report that it's in no danger of closing, and might yet benefit from other stores' closings in the form of bargain-priced stock coming from its less successful brothers.

A Boat on Stormy Seas

The recent transition of Steamboat from being Danny Crooks' baby to being one of Paul Oveisi's venues, along with Momo's and Six of Clubs, hit a rough patch last week. In what Oveisi calls "a bit of drama for 48 hours," Crooks apparently lost confidence in Oveisi's ability to run the club and popped in mid-week to yank out much of his lighting and P.A. equipment. Following some negotiating between the two parties, Crooks returned the equipment the following day, at which point he says he signed an agreement not to talk ill of the club for six months. James Speer, Oveisi's booker, describes the situation as being "all settled now," with all parties involved saying the club had a great weekend; Del Castillo's CD release was filmed by Robert Rodriguez. Also, despite rumors of the Six of Clubs being sold to allow more focus on the Steamboat ("There were offers, but nothing happened," says Speer), all three venues are up and running, and it looks like they'll all stay that way for the foreseeable future. At least six months, one hopes, or else Danny Crooks is likely to explode in the meantime!

Smoking in Heaven

Bill Hicks enthusiasts will be glad to know that Rykodisc has two new CDs, LoveLaughterandTruth and Flying Saucer Tour Vol. 1 Pittsburgh 6/20/91, due out from the late comedian Nov. 12. Not happy, however, is Hicks' longtime friend and producer Kevin Booth, who was behind the release of Hicks' previous posthumous releases, and who had been working with Ryko toward more. Instead, the current discs were made without Booth's knowledge, and one, the LoveLaughterandTruth compilation, features some frankly sub-bootleg audio quality. "I thought we'd have a new deal soon based on trust," sighs Booth, "but they'd obviously been working on this behind my back all along." At least, he adds, the material doesn't seem to overlap with the Hicks archival work he's been preparing for release, though whether Ryko has any intentions of ever using that is questionable.

Katz in a Cool Symphony Square

For years, Harold McMillan and his company DiverseArts have been organizing jazz festivals for the Austin community, and for years he's been left in the red after each event. It was assumed he wouldn't be putting on a show this year, but one four-letter word changed that: Katz. That's Katz as in the deli-style restaurant Katz's that's long been on Sixth Street, and for a shorter time had the jazz club Top of the Marc upstairs. How did the two get together? Owner Mark Katz says he's long been a supporter of the Austin music scene, and had previously worked with McMillan producing CDs and shows at Top of the Marc. When McMillan told him that a lack of funding meant there might not be a jazz festival this year, Katz says he decided it was time to widen his beam. "I'm a nice guy and I've got a few bucks," says Katz. "Putting money into the community like this is a good business decision." As for McMillan, he says this year he hopes he's finally found the right formula for bringing people out in large numbers. "My excitement about the prospects comes from the fact that [the festival] is only one day, spread out into discreet sections," he explains. He's also pleased about having strong sponsorship, and hopes that the October weather will be on his side for once. "We've had a history of hot weather and discomfort," he says. "This time it may actually be cool!" In an interesting decision admission-wise, those with strong constitutions will be rewarded as the price starts low and rises over the course of the day. There are no ins and outs, but those who come at 11am for the children's performances pay $5 and are free to stay all day. Those arriving for the matinee shows at 1pm can remain after paying $10, and those who wish to see only the evening concerts will have to pay the full $20 for those headliner performances. (Wristbands can be purchased in advance for $15 at Waterloo Records, Sound Exchange, Thirty Three Degrees, and Mitchie's.) If you want a tease before the fest, don't forget there's a pre-show word jazz event tonight (Thursday) with Ricardo Acevedo, Ivanho, and the Word Jazz Low Stars at Resistencia Book Store at 1801 S. First.

Katz's 14th Annual Jazz & Arts Festival Schedule

Sunday, Oct. 20 at Symphony Square, 11th & Red River: Gates open at 11am.

Childrens' Performances, 11am:

Griot Circle, Mott & Friends, plus clowns, face painting, balloons. Jazz brunch at Cafe Serranos.

Austin Jazz Stage Matinee Concerts, 1pm:

Creative Opportunity Orchestra, Pam Hart, Spiritual Unity Quartet (Alex Coke, Alvin Fielder, Dennis Gonzales, Dave Dove), Grupo Fantasma, Chester Baldwin's Austin Gospel Showcase.

Great Guitars Evening Concerts, 6pm:

W.C. Clark Blues Revue, Cornell Dupree, Leni Stern, Mimi Fox.


Mixed Notes

Jazz fans not satisfied after one day at Symphony Square might want to look toward the Arboretum, of all places, for entertainment. Reed's Jazz and Supper Club recently opened out there and is drawing thumbs-ups for fans of sax and syncopation... Those who like to lounge, meanwhile, should take note that the Speakeasy is expanding. Actually, a new venue is opening next to the Speakeasy, owned by the same folks and with the same general attitude. The difference, say the Speakeasy crew, is that the new club, called the Cuba Libre, will have a "Havana feel" to it... You may recall that on Sept. 11 of this year, Emo's, Room 710, Beerland, and Elysium teamed up for a benefit with proceeds going to a feast for local firemen. Well, that big buffet was held last Tuesday with some 125 hungry blaze-battlers chowing down courtesy of the four venues. On a more music-related note, Frank Hendrix of Emo's says he's finished making things official for an appearance by X at the club in late November... Last week we reported on two long-lost recordings being reissued, Joe "King" Carrasco & El Molino, and Freda & the Firedogs. This week, a CD by the Contenders arrived at the office courtesy of the Vermont-based Gadfly Records. The Contenders, you ask? That's the 1976-78 Nashville-based act that featured Walter Hyatt, Champ Hood, Steve Runkie, Tommy Goldsmith, and Jimbeau Walsh. The eponymous disc is the band's only album, plus three bonus tracks from the never-finished Don Dixon-produced follow-up. Check www.gadflyrecords.com for more info... The members of the Hotrod Hillbillies say they "want to apologize to all for canceling the Hard Rock Cafe gig in Austin last week. One of us was forced to visit the Travis County Correctional Complex in Del Valle, Texas, for a while. However, the bond has been paid and now it's time to make some $$!" The band will be playing Friday at Momo's opening for the Flametrick Subs, as well as Sunday at Beerland as part of this weekend's "Texas Trash Festival" there. Look for Hard Feelings guitar maverick John Schooley, Stickpony, Big Foot Chester, Gravy Boat, and the Converters on Friday; the Fine Lines, Greaser, Hard Feelings, and Billy Joe Winghead on Saturday; and Gravy Boat, Baby Shakers, and the aforementioned Hotrod Hillbillies on Sunday. Wear something trashy...

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