Attacking the busiest week in the Live Music Capitol
Back in the Hole
We knew it was only a matter of time until things turned around, and now they have. A group of investors has signed contracts and plans to reopen the Hole in the Wall in May, says J.D. Torian, who will handle booking for the reborn club. The Drag-bound live music landmark, which closed last June due to held-over boomtown rents, had been an Austin institution for almost 30 years, home to everyone from Nanci Griffith's first gigs to one of Doug Sahm's last SXSW appearances. An announcement is expected to coincide with Paul Minor's "Hole in the Wall Gang" tribute tonight at the Austin Music Awards; Torian said he hopes to bring back the Rock & Roll Free for All and provide a venue for newer bands. "We're open to suggestions," he said. Sadly, one musician who won't be there to toast the returning Hole is local drummer Kris Van Robbins, who took his life on Wednesday, March 5. Robbins, 32, played with several local outfits, including Color, Danni Leigh, Jane Bond, and Kevin Fowler. He also delivered the Chronicle for a number of years, and our condolences go out to his friends, family, and loved ones.
Everybody knows SXSWeek is one long party, so here's a brief field guide to what to expect at various functions around town. Lots, lots more in Club Listings, p.102.
BEST PLACE TO GET IN A "TOWNES VS. WILLIE" ARGUMENT: Texas Music Reader Appreciation Party, Antone's, 2-8pm Friday, with the Gourds, Patrice Pike, Ray Wylie Hubbard.
BEST PLACE TO HAVE AN OUT-OF-BODY EXPERIENCE AFTER A SCOOP OF ROKY ROAD: Roky Erickson psychedelic ice-cream social, Threadgill's World Headquarters, 1-4pm Friday.
BEST PLACE TO FIND SHAGGY HESHERS WHO DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT SXSW: Room 710's day shows, 1-6pm Wednesday-Saturday, with several proudly belligerent Austin bands.
BEST PLACE TO CUT A RUG, TEXAS-STYLE: Twangfest, Dean's Texas Cafe (1323-A S. Congress), 12-5pm Friday, with Susanna Van Tassel, Karen Poston, Redd Volkaert, Wayne Hancock.
BEST PLACE TO HEAR SOMEONE FROM CHICAGO GO OFF ON OBSCURE 1920s STRING BANDS: Bloodshot Records Party, Yard Dog Folk Art Gallery, 12-6pm Friday, with the Meat Purveyors, Waco Brothers.
BEST PLACE TO ANNOY MUSIC-BIZ DRONES WITH YOUR TEXAS ACCENT: SPIN party, Stubb's, 12-5pm Friday, with Hot Hot Heat, Sahara Hotnights, Black Keys.
BEST PLACE TO FIND EVERYONE TOO HIP FOR THE 'SPIN' PARTY: Touch & Go/Barsuk/Post-Parlo Party, Emo's, noon-5pm Friday, with Britt Daniel, Death Cab for Cutie, Quasi.
BEST PLACE TO ENJOY FREE BEER AND LOCAL ONE-NAMED POP BANDS: Porchlight party, 3800-A S. Congress, 12-8pm Saturday, with Masonic, Bedbug, Fivehead, Canoe.
BEST PLACE TO KILL YOUR SXSW HANGOVER BY GETTING EVEN MORE WASTED: Your living room on St. Patrick's Day, Monday, March 17, watching the Sundance Channel's Shane MacGowan documentary, If I Should Fall From Grace.
Music to Burn
Sound Exchange is gone, yet on my desk are three dozen examples of spanking-new local music. Here are 12 reasons Austin is still a better music town than wherever you live:
GARETH BROESCHE TRIO, "Lazybones": Leisurely stroll through jazz-bluegrass country, the guitar, mandolin, and bass cavorting like three carefree 9-year-olds. (Gareth Broesche Trio)
AMBERJACK RICE, "Big Fire Breathing Horse": Fleet-fingered gospel-blues to beat the devil, and the beer-induced topic of discussion between Rice and his spectral grandfather. (New Roots)
BREWTALITY INC., "Gonna Keep Drinking": Texas terrors get the Ramones off their tits on Lone Star and Wild Turkey. Not to be heard on an empty stomach. (Too Drunk for Punk)
TOOF, "Lasers Hurt": Lone Casio-keeper wards off impending robotic invasion with sci-fi disco, but a beguiling backward-looped break steals his eyebeam-shooting heart. (Bus Stop Style)
VOLCANO, I'M STILL EXCITED!! "The New Brad": The new Brad could pass for the old Rufus Wainwright until the chorus, which ups the ante with off-key indie rock. (Carbon Copy)
SHANDON SAHM, "80s Metal Song": Just in case the Scorpslike wails and scalded-cat solos don't help, the sole lyrics are "this is an Eighties metal song." (Good Thoughts Are Better Than Laxatives)
SLOW READER, "Every Part of Nothing": Agreeably lo-fi, acoustic-driven daydream luxuriating in the sunny harmonies of voluntary inertia. (Slow Reader)
KISSING CHAOS, "Lost Evidence": Turbulent screamo with robust power chords and a wistful chamber-music coda. (Enter With a Bullet)
THE REAL HEROES, "Elise, Elise": Talking Heads double-booking studio time with Grand Funk Railroad: butt rock for smart asses. (demo)
HOUSEHOLD NAMES, "Hold on Tight!": Jason Garcia cuts a manic swath through a psychedelic jungle of leering Farfisa and "Don't Fear the Reaper" guitar. (Hold on Tight!)
ROCKLAND EAGLES, "I Am a Rocket": Low-slung homage to ZZ Top and the good old days when the riffs were heavy, the carpet was shag, and the drinking age was 18. (demo)
WE TALKED ABOUT MURDER, "Social Lubricant": Jittery, a-melodic crossbreeding of punishing guitars and romantic anxiety. Welcome to Austin, y'all. (Expecting the Explosion)
Some of the most dedicated music fans anywhere work in local record stores; here are some of their favorite Austin acts.
LYMAN HARDY, Waterloo: "The Octopus Project and Via Satellites. Both are organic, a product of the people involved and not any particular style of music."
FORREST COPPOCK, Antone's: "Gary Clark Jr., and Toni Price. I go see W.C. Clark a lot, and the Jon Emery Band. He's got a killer band now."
RYAN ENRIGHT, Jupiter: "Lowery 66 -- nobody else does what they do. I saw God Drives a Galaxy, and they blew me away. The Stingers are incredible, and I love the Weary Boys."
MARIA GONIMA, 33 Degrees: "Stars as Eyes. It's something different; a new take on progressive rock with electronics."
JASON SHIELDS, Cheapo: "High Noon, the best rockabilly band of the last 20 years; D.B. Harris, the coolest thing in Austin; and Heybale, the most talented band in the world."
CHARLIE JONES, Donkey: "The Bulemics, and all the little kid bands like the Distressed. They keep the skate in punk rock."
Which Way to the Free Beer?
All too often, SXSW feels like a barbecue-and-bunion-intensive episode of Survivor, so "TCB" asked assorted music-industry locals (and one ex-local) for advice on how not to be voted out of the afterparty.
JAN MIRKIN, ASCAP: "I surround myself with good friends, eat Maudie's breakfast tacos, drink lots of coffee and bottled water, and wear comfortable shoes!"
WENDY MORGAN, Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau: "Pick up free Downtown maps at the Visitor Center [Second and San Jacinto, under Convention Center parking garage]. Also, get a Capital Metro Dillo Map for free rides to day parties or most film screenings until 6pm."
MARK RUBIN, 1001 Nights: "I would direct folks to the '300-pound Guy's Guide to Good Eats' www.markrubin.com/sxsw/eats.html."
KENT BENJAMIN, Pop Culture Press: "Wear the most comfortable shoes you own. Dressing in all black marks you clearly as a tourist. Plan your evening around the most essential bands, and fill in with bands within walking distance."
DIANNE SCOTT, Continental Club: "SXSW for me is like 'Death by Chocolate' to a choco-holic: I thrive for exactly a week on not enough sleep, too much coffee, and more first-rate live music than most people hear in a lifetime!"
CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER, Minneapolis Star-Tribune: "Too many people I know go crazy on the first two nights and are then winded by Friday. While I understand the urge, especially after tasting Minnesota margaritas, don't overdo it. Unless, of course, it's free."
EMILY FAWCETT, Club DeVille/ Privilege: "In short, a healthy dose of cardio, Jäger, and, if you're that type of person, No-Doz can help you through the week. If you are from out of town: Please don't move here!"
RAY SEGGERN, 107.7 The End: "As with any marathon, I 'train' for a couple of weeks to ramp up to convention-level drinking. Earplugs are condoms for the music biz, and it's a given you'll have multiple partners this week, so wear protection."
WOODY WIEDEMAN, Room 710: "Free day shows equals free beer, free food (except for my bar)."
JILL MCGUCKIN, McGuckin Entertainment: "I focus on keeping a sense of humor and 'emergency' chocolate bars within easy reach. I change my shoes at least twice a day, and don't start drinking until after 10pm."