Dancing About Architecture
Mars Music store goes the way of Halley's Comet.
Mars, Satellite Fall From Sky
Two weeks ago, I reported that the Austin outlet of Mars Music wasn't in danger of closing, even though the chain had closed a number of stores following its day in bankruptcy court. Well, now that the company has given up the ghost, it's indeed time to bid goodbye to the local store as well. According to The Miami Herald, Boston-based Gordon Brothers Retail Partners was the high bidder in an auction last Thursday for the inventory of the music retailer's 37 stores. Mars had filed for bankruptcy protection last month but abandoned reorganization when it couldn't line up additional financing. A major going-out-of-business sale began at the Hancock Center location Saturday, the store then closing Monday to do some final inventory, and on Tuesday musicians such as Sarah Brown and Richard Fenno were spotted prowling for bargains at the crack of 11am. Manager Duane Smart says the store will probably continue selling its stock at a discount for five or six weeks before shutting its doors for good. As for sale stock coming from other stores, Smart says that's "still debatable," but seeing as previous store closings done by auction were reportedly disastrous, it's not unimaginable that Mars' loss could be Austin musicians' gain. Also, take a ride out to 8312 Burnet, across the road from Tien Hong, where former Mars manager John Files has just opened his own significantly smaller store, Bass Emporium. Citing "little things happening and not happening that make you wonder," Files bailed out of the Mars ship early and opened his own shop a couple of weeks ago.
Meanwhile, The Houston Press reports that Houston's Fabulous Satellite Lounge, home to Austin acts like Vallejo, Reckless Kelly, Patrice Pike, and Bob Schneider will soon be no more. Landlords have given Satellite manager Dickie Malone an April 15, 2003, deadline to vacate the premises, and Malone says he's likely going to shut down in early January. The landlords are reportedly concerned that parking for the Satellite will cripple their weekend dinner business when they open a new restaurant nearby. Sayeth the Press, "Now there are three scenarios for the Satellite. One is that Malone will reopen the club somewhere else in the Heights. The second is for him to sell the club's name, fixtures, and database lock, stock, and barrel to other, unnamed investors who he says plan to reopen the club downtown. The third would be that the Satellite simply joins Club Hey Hey, the Bon Ton Room, Emo's, and the Abyss in the graveyard of fabled Houston clubs." Meanwhile, the Houston Continental Club, which I'm told is doing great, can expect to gain more patrons and bands as the competition drops by a significant margin.
Monte Montgomery's management issued a statement this week claiming that the local guitarist's former label was releasing an album titled Live at the Caravan of Dreams against the wishes of their client. "That record has been made by Antone's/TMG without my consent or permission and over my objection," states the release. "I have asked my lawyers to take whatever action is appropriate to stop the release of the album." The label replies in a press release of their own that the album "was recorded and is being released under the terms of Montgomery's contract with Antone's/TMG Records, an agreement that presently remains in effect." Citing "creative differences," they add, "TMG agreed earlier this year to enter into negotiations to release Montgomery from any future recording obligations to Antone's/TMG Records. Texas Music Group regrets that Montgomery has chosen to use the legitimate release of Live at the Caravan of Dreams as a forum for other outstanding issues regarding his recording agreement with Antone's/TMG Records." Montgomery's manager Ray Rodriguez says the release of the artist was a separate issue, and insists that, "Monte never intended that recording for public release, and he had stated his desire not to release it [to TMG]." With neither side apparently planning to back down at this point, expect further news as the battle rages on.
Six of Clubs: Shuffle or Deal?
Back here in Austin, there were rumors about Paul Oveisi's other clubs as soon as he took over Steamboat, and this week, it appears as though one of them is coming true -- sort of. "I've got a guy that is likely going to buy 70% of the club," says Oveisi. "[He's] mainly just an investor and I will continue to do the booking." At press time, the agreement wasn't yet finalized; Oveisi thought it was a done deal, but as of Tuesday afternoon, he still wasn't sure "if it's gonna happen or not -- I'll know by Friday or Saturday." In the course of the sale, the venue "may close down for a few days and finally fix our sprinkler system," he adds. That wouldn't be the same sprinkler system that Josh Cisneros spoke of fixing for so many years back when the place was still the Metro!?!
Not in town but not as far as Houston is New Braunfels' historic Saengerhalle, boasting over 10,000 square feet of dance hall and "megatons of air-conditioning." Now open under new ownership and management, the danceteria will be holding an official grand reopening the weekend of Nov. 16, with Johnny Dee & the Rocket 88's playing on Friday and Robert Earl Keen on Saturday night. The kids in the Halle say the show will be something of a homecoming for Keen, who hasn't performed a full band show in New Braunfels in five years. Looks for Hayes Carl and Keith Magel this Friday and Saturday, respectively, and/or visit www.saengerhalle.com.
The Mural of the Story
Nearly 30 years after they painted the mural on 23rd Street at the Drag, Kerry Awn, Rick Turner, and Tommy B are putting the final retouches on it, including new images of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Doug Sahm. Calling themselves the "Austintatious Artists" (the pun wasn't as hoary in those days), the trio painted the mural in 1974 and restored it once in 1982, making this the 20th anniversary of the restoration. Awn says that with the additional elements like the Continental Club and the Broken Spoke ("and anywhere else we hope to get in for the rest of our lives for free"), the project has become a "living wall," and the group plans to return again and update in 2022 if they're all still on this planet. "We're also adding a South Austin section," says Awn, "since South Austin wasn't as groovy when we first painted the wall." Visitors this weekend will get to see the finished product, as the last touches are being done as this issue goes to print, with guest artists from Awn's son to poster boy Micael Priest helping out. All involved expect the mural to stay safe well into its 30-year anniversary. "The street people protect it. It's like a big screen TV to them!"
From Small Stages to Big Screens
Henry Rosenthal was in town over the weekend shooting scenes for his upcoming feature film on Jad Fair's best buddy Daniel Johnston. Rosenthal and a large crew set up around town (including the Chronicle offices, where Louis Black and yours truly spent Saturday shooting our reminiscences) and stayed through a grueling three-day shoot before returning to their San Francisco base. The flick has been in the works for a year and a half now; Rosenthal expects it to be at least that much longer before the film hits theatres. Fans and friends of the late Blaze Foley have similarly been getting rounded up by Kevin Triplett, whose Blaze doc has also been in the works for over a year. In that time, says the filmmaker, he has "interviewed 82 people, shot 312 hours of taped footage, and driven 6,300 miles through 11 states." Foleyites note that Dec. 15 at the New Chaparral will be the "last call for the documentary and big birthday bash."
The Bismeaux Crew is stoked over the shooting of Ray Benson's Planet Texas pilot for CMT last week, saying they got "an overwhelmingly positive response from everyone who saw it." Dolly Parton was in good form (42-32-36?), Vince Gill in fine voice, and Bruce Robison penned a song about an audience member's dogs in the two hours it took to tape the show. Benson, for his part, was the perfect host, mugging to the audience's delight during retakes. No word at this point when -- or even if -- the show will end up airing... Is that Stubb's or Fort Knox on Red River? Thieves broke into the compound a few days ago and attempted to run off with equipment and such, but all they got was beer. Why they stopped short of getting the soundboard out of the building is unknown. "I guess they got spooked by something," shrugs the venue's Charles Attal, adding that the venue will be upgrading its security system... The Diamond Smugglers are gearing up for a gem of a week starting with tonight's (Thursday) Halloween gig at Emo's and moving on to their annual appearance at TV producer Rob Thomas' house next door to Britney Spears' place in the Hollywood Hills... Wednesday, Nov. 6, 9pm-12:30am, Austin musicians will perform at Ego's to benefit the Children's Advocacy Center. Cover is $5 with all money going to the charity. Look for Ron Flynt & the Bluehearts, Kevin Carrol, Penny Jo Pullus, Dickie Lee Erwin, David K, Jamie Lee Bradford, Golden Apples, Foamy, Eric Hisaw, Chrissy Flatt, John Stark, and Walter Tragert... Li'l Cap'n Travis and Grand Champeen are playing the record release show for the Elvis Costello tribute album Almost You Friday at the Mercury. On that day a limited number of CDs will go up for sale at Waterloo Records, the "official" national release being Jan. 21.