Austin wonders if Billy Bob Thornton will hop onstage with Tori Amos.
Neither side is saying much because attorneys are involved, but there's been a coup d'état in Austin's roller-derby ranks. Several skaters have broken away from Bad Girl, Good Woman Productions to form their own federation, the Texas Rollergirls. One rollergirl, Melicious, says the split came due to "growing pains" and a desire to be more "community-based." Meanwhile, BGGW issued a succinct press release Monday, stating in part, "Bad Girl, Good Woman Productions, All-Girl Roller Derby Entertainment wants to make it clear that we are not affiliated with this group." "This is no fun at all!" added BGGW "She-EO" Heather Burdick via e-mail. Small wonder: Four of the five squads -- all but the Putas del Fuego -- have joined the Rollergirls, but since BGGW owns the team names, they now go by "Gun-Totin', Rough-Ridin' Rodeo Sweethearts," "Engine-Revvin' Frisky Felines," "Groove Thing Shakin' Disco Divas," and "Sexy Schoolyard Scrappers." The upstart league has its first bout 7pm, Sunday, at Playland Skate Center (8822 McCann), with refreshments by Beerland and music by the Sexy Finger Champs and DJ Shiv. Tickets are $10.
Eeyore's Birthday, that proto-Austin celebration of bare feet, psilocybin, and drum circles, turns 40 years old this Saturday amid a patchouli-smelling cloud of controversy. For the past several years, a group of DJs have set up on the north end of Pease Park, adjacent to the area occupied by Eeyore's proper, and have steadily drawn greater and greater numbers; estimates have gone as high as 1,000. For Eeyore's organizers, who originally gave the DJs their blessing, the increased crowds meant increased liabilities in terms of medical, security, and trash cleanup, so the overseeing board voted to disallow the gathering. Scott Sexton of the Friends of the Forest Foundation, the group that stages Eeyore's as a benefit for area nonprofit agencies, says diplomatically, "It has nothing to do with the type of music, what they look like, anything along those lines." Not surprisingly, the DJs see it a bit differently. Coy West of the 626 Soul collective freely admits, "It's their permit; it's their event" but says he still thinks the decision is based more on a general distaste for dance music among Eeyore's old guard than any legal concerns. "We prided ourselves on bringing in hundreds of people who wouldn't have come before," he adds. Reached for comment in the Hundred Acre Wood, Eeyore himself said, "Oh, well. Life goes on." As ever, the drum circle and costumery run 10am-dark, with nonamplified music by Ghandaia, Alpha Rhythm, and the Gustavo Rodriguez Band, while West, DJ Mel, Chris Specht, and Merrick Brown pack up their wax for Ruta Maya coffeehouse, where they'll spin from 10pm-close.
Austin will be a little less groovy, baby, come the end of May when Fuzz Club den mother DJ Sue moves to L.A. Originally from the East Coast, Sue says she's moving out West to pursue her interest in photography and perhaps go back to school. As for the Fuzz Club, "I thought I'd do it for a couple of months and wound up doing it three years." Believe it or not, her first Clubhouse was the seriously South Austin Chaparral Lounge. "I was new to the idea of setups," she says. She then spent several months at Nasty's before coming to rest, and thriving, at Beerland, where Sue found a kindred spirit in owner Randall Stockton. "He loves the music as much as I do," she says. Tearing it up Saturday will be the Ka-nives, featuring Matt Murillo of Houston mod squads the Jewws and Junior Varsity, and New Orleans' All-Night Movers. A reincarnated version of the Sir Finks will play the May 24 finale, as Sue bids adieu to the growing number of people who share her affinity for kitschy hairstyles and high-energy Sixties sounds. At the beginning, she says, "People would come in and say, 'What is this music?' Now the same people are dressing Sixties and they know all the songs." She also counts herself lucky because, by DJ standards, she doesn't have all that much inventory: "I tend to move a lot, and my friends won't help me if I have too many records."
Speaking of records, don't forget the Austin Record Convention this Saturday and Sunday, 10am-6pm, at the Crockett Events Center, 6301 Hwy. 290 E. The festivities include two screenings of the movie Vinyl, featuring commentary from jazz historian, American Splendor subject, and Chronicle contributor Harvey Pekar. Showtimes are 9:45pm Saturday at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown and 9:45pm Sunday at the Alamo Drafthouse Village... Billy Bob Alert: Thornton, now on a first-two-names basis with all of Austin, was partying with some Alamo colleagues at Stubb's last Friday when he took a liking to happy-hour roots-rockers Otis. Singer Brett Humphries says the Levity star held up a napkin with the message "You guys are fuckin' great!"... Phillip Niemeyer of Black Lipstick called to say the band's recent Mercury show was prematurely dubbed a CD release, since debut Converted Thieves wasn't then available. It is now, he says, so Lipstick is playing a free show Friday at Waterloo Records, 5pm.
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"I was always around musicians who had stuff coming out and were excited," says Walking the Crooked Mile director/producer David N. Reyes, who previously produced 41/2 years' worth of "Musician Audition" segments for Austin ABC affiliate KVUE's local news. "I wanted to see what it was like during the down time." Thus was born his documentary, which distills 16 months in the lives of local singer-songwriter Mike Rosenthal and now-defunct River City rockers 50 Mission Crush into 76 minutes of exhilaration, frustration, and apprehension, with further commentary by Terri Hendrix, Darin Murphy, and Lisa Tingle. The scenes shot at SXSW 01 and 02 are especially revealing, Reyes acknowledging, "I understand exactly what they're up against in terms of recognition." These days, he says, with fewer clubs and overall slots for musicians to play, "there's less space for those without the push. It's harder to break through." Walking the Crooked Mile premieres at 1:15 and 2:45pm Sunday, at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown, with an afterparty at the Red Eyed Fly featuring Rosenthal and 50MC drummer Chris Didear's new band Deejer.
Piano-pounding faerie queene Tori Amos flits into the Backyard Saturday night with Old 97's heartthrob Rhett Miller (plenty of tickets left), effectively retracing the tour that led to her best album in years, 2002's Scarlet's Walk. She phoned from "chilly" San Luis Opisbo, Calif., and extended a howdy to Texas' No. 1 Tori fan, "TCB" sibling John Gray.
TCB: What was the most moving moment you had on the tour that inspired Scarlet's Walk?
Tori Amos: A Native American woman came to see me. Somehow she knew I was writing a work about America's moral compass. She said, "I have a message for the woman who sings."
TCB: What was the message?
TA: She basically laid the ground rules and said, "This is a story that needs to be told, and if you're going to tell it correctly, the ancestors are there to assist you." It was very much a warning, in a way, that America's soul has been pimped out and manipulated by our leaders and everybody else. It's about a woman trying to find out who America is, and she reminded me that the Native Americans are the keepers and protectors of her soul, and they take it very seriously. That's their real mother.
TCB: You have an especially close relationship with your fans ...
TA: Musicians develop a skill, and then they're there to serve. They're there to serve the unconscious of the masses and to try and tap into what's really occurring.
TCB: Your love of Led Zeppelin is well known. What's your favorite song?
TA: For a while I really liked "No Quarter." I'll stand by that.
Austin is making national headlines again, and this time it has nothing to do with the Dixie Chicks. O. Henry's hometown was named the No. 4 rock & roll city in the U.S. in the May issue of Blender. The top three are all enclaves of larger cities (Brooklyn, Detroit, L.A.), so by default, Bat City is the rockingest true metropolis in the land. Oakland (No. 5), Portland (No. 9), Louisville (No. 13), and Tucson (No. 18) all get half-page spreads with photos, and Austin? A tiny box about migas curing hangovers and the most backhanded shout-out to Tamale House No. 3 ever. (The word "skank" is used.) Therefore, in the interests of civic pride, and because Tamale House rules, "TCB" came up with our own list: "21 Music Magazines Better Than Blender"
6) Pop Culture Press
7) Texas Music
8) The Source
12) Metal Edge
14) Alternative Press
15) The Wire
16) Guitar World
17) 3rd Coast Music
18) No Depression
19) Country Line
21) Rolling Stone