Austin soldiers on beyond SXSW with hot rods, SPAM, and puking

Hot Rods, Kool Kats

If there's anything Continental Club owner Steve Wertheimer likes better than Toni Price or Jon Dee Graham, it's tricked-out, custom-built hot rods. He can often be seen cruising to and from the South Congress venue in his ground-hugging "Black Dahlia," and this weekend Wertheimer and his compadres in the Kontinentals car club are once again hosting the Lonestar Rod & Kustom Round Up. Last year's inaugural event, held at high school football shrine House Park, drew a rave from The Rodder's Journal and such an enthusiastic response from the custom community that this year's show had to be moved to Eastside gathering spot Fiesta Gardens (2100 Bergman). Things get underway with the club's preparty tonight (Thursday) featuring Gary Clark Jr. and the registration happy hour, 3-7pm, Friday. The nighttime Continental shows have already sold out to registrants (over 20 car clubs from Texas and beyond are expected), but there'll be bands, movies, and lead sleds galore across the street at Jo's Coffee Shop. That's all free, starting around 8pm with Gary Primich and the Leroi Bros. featuring Johnny Reno (Friday) and Cave Catt Sammy and James Intveld (Saturday). Over at the Gardens, general admission is $10, and even those who don't know a blower from a free breather might want to show up to see ailing Dallas rockabilly legend Ronnie Dawson. The man behind "Monkey Beat" and "Rockin' Bones" has been battling cancer, which Wertheimer says is back "with a vengeance." "It won't be his last performance," Wertheimer adds, "but it could be." Preceding Dawson, who headlines at 5pm, will be Jesse Dayton (noon), the Hustlers (1pm), Intveld (2), Redd Volkaert (3), and the Paladins (4). Those who make it inside the club can take in the recent renovations made possible by the Continental's leasing of the building next door. Moving the club's office/storage area into the former pet-grooming parlor Shampooch has allowed the poolroom to double in size, and although a beer bar is already in place, Wertheimer hopes to put in a full-service bar much like the one in the Continental's Houston location. Up front, a new bar is in place (the old one's headed to Houston), and the iron railing that once separated the entrance from the rest of the club is now gone and is no longer an "accident waiting to happen." Presently, the railing is being melted down into spare body panels.

Elsewhere in Clubland

There's an old Oriental proverb that says a nightclub will be blessed with long life if among its first performers are self-mutilating, self-avowed purveyors of "dumb shit." OK, that's not really true, but Spiro's Amphitheater manager Josh Cisneros hopes it is. Although Cisneros says the terraced, 1,400-capacity facility won't be fully operational until May (he's still renting sound and light systems, for one thing), Monday it welcomed the "Don't Try This at Home Tour," featuring cast members from MTV's jackass. Although it took the brain-damaged crew three hours to emerge, things got off to an auspicious start when Steve-O snorted a snootful of rock salt and promptly spewed his stomach contents all over the stage. It was downhill from there, with Ryan Dunn constantly bragging -- without offering proof, thankfully -- about how many Matchbox cars he could stick up his ass, a crowd-surfing race set to Andrew W.K.'s "We Want Fun," and Steve-O's "science experiment" successfully proving, believe it or not, that broken glass is sharp. But it wasn't all about jumping off ladders or getting kicked in the nuts, which several eager audience members volunteered to do. Admonishing the crowd for some over-enthusiastic moshing, Steve-O uttered the improbable sentence, "On the 'Don't Try This at Home' tour, we're all about having respect for each other." Once the puke is cleaned up, Cisneros hopes to bring everyone from Alien Ant Farm to Pat Green and Cory Morrow to the 25,000-square-foot space behind the Red River dance emporium; future bookings already include dutty rocker Sean Paul and hip-hoppers Lil' Kim, Angie Martinez, and Tone-Loc. Across the river, Steamboat could begin hosting more young bucks like Green and Morrow now that the Saxon Pub's David Cotton has assumed booking duties. While trying to avoid too much overlap with the Saxon, Cotton, the longtime doorman at Steamboat's Sixth Street location, hopes to bring "more diverse" roadshows to the 2003 Austin Music Award winner for Best New Club, as well as early nonsmoking shows, which have gone over so well on South Lamar that Thursday-night fixture Rusty Wier is moving to 8pm after 14 years. Finally, nothing's official yet, but it appears as if the Mercury is about to be granted a new lease on life, so to speak.

Homeland Insecurity

With the nation at war and blood pressures skyrocketing due to the ever-present Orange Alert, it's comforting to know law enforcement is doing its best to keep the American public safe from ... musicians. On their way from Fort Worth to Columbia, Mo., psych-jobbers Godspeed You! Black Emperor, who turned in an awe-inspiring performance at the Texas Union Ballroom a few days prior, were detained for questioning last week at an Oklahoma gas station. Evidently an attendant got one look at the Canadians' skeevy-looking caravan of two vans and an equipment truck and immediately thought "terrorists." Before the Montreal-based ninepiece could even finish their Big Gulps, FBI agents and local authorities were on the scene with guns drawn, and they held Godspeed for about three hours before letting them go. "I just feel very lucky that we weren't Pakistani or Korean," frontman Efrim Menuck later commented. "They detained 1,000 people in California, and no one knows what happened to them. We're just lucky we're nice white kids from Canada." Meanwhile, in Houston, a disagreement over proper rodeo etiquette concerning Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." led to blows. A 16-year-old Houston youth and his friends chose to remain seated during the song, thus offending a nearby spectator, who chose to douse them with beer while suggesting they "go back to Iraq." The resulting fisticuffs led to a $200 "mutual combat" citation for both parties, with possible further legal action to follow. "I guess next time he'll think we need to stand for 'Okie From Muskogee,'" the teenager's attorney told KTRK-TV. Although the Greenwood fan was listed as being from Austin, "TCB" failed to contact him because we were too busy investigating a rumored government embargo on recordings by French artists Serge Gainsbourg, Air, Daft Punk, and Tahiti 80.

Mr. Kite's Corner

Piano-pounder Marcia Ball will preview songs from her upcoming Stephen Bruton-produced LP, So Many Rivers, at the Broken Spoke Sunday as part of a fundraiser for grassroots citizens group Neighbors for Neighbors, which is fighting a proposed strip mine in Bastrop and Lee counties. Tickets are $20 at the door or $15 in advance at the Spoke or Book Woman... Emo's is hosting a Boobs not Bombs benefit Saturday with the Sexy Finger Champs, Lewinsky, the Amazons, Raunchy Reckless, and the Tuna Helpers. Hopefully, it will fare better than the first go-round, which ended in a full-on police raid after shakers left over from a peace march were mistaken for anthrax containers.

Wham, SPAM™, Thank You Ma'am

"TCB" would like to wish SPAMarama™ a happy birthday, as Austin's springtime celebration of the country's best-known potted-meat product turns 25 this year. The silver-anniversary festivities happen noon-10pm Saturday in Waterloo Park, with music by the Austin Lounge Lizards, Cornell Hurd Band, Uranium Savages, and the Parrot Lounge Orchestra. The $7 entry fee also buys you into the SPAM™ cook-off and SPAM™alympics, where you can see the gelatinous semi-pork mass used in ways Hormel never intended. Somehow we doubt even the SPAM™ Cram, whatever that is, could be any more disgusting than the recent Chronicle Sno Ball stuffing contest, won when Art Director Taylor Holland beat out esteemed Publisher Nick Barbaro by wedging five of the pink Hostess confections into his gullet.

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