Everybody's hurtin' unless they're on Friendster
Things are looking up for Scott H. Biram, who returned to the live arena two weeks ago after surviving a head-on collision with an 18-wheeler in late March. Biram opened for Daniel Johnston at the Hole in the Wall's recent 30th anniversary and counts himself lucky to have completed his 75-minute set. "I got tired about halfway through," says the San Marcos-based blues shouter, "and the next day I was in bed all day long." Biram, confined to a wheelchair since his release from San Antonio's Brooke Army Medical Center, has been working with a physical therapist twice a week as he slowly regains the use of his legs. "I can make it around the living room once [on crutches]," he says, "and later on I pay for it." Though he expects to graduate to a cane in a little over a month, it will be considerably longer before he's able to do things like carry his own equipment. While laid up at his parents' house, Biram has been answering letters and e-mails, looking at vans with his dad, and writing songs, including a new one titled "I Cheated Death." "I've been practicing guitar a lot more than I used to," he notes wryly. Like too many musicians, Biram had no health insurance to speak of when the accident happened. "I wasn't set for this at all," he laments. "The bills are starting to come in, and they're pretty big." And that's not all. "My house [outside Seguin] is just sitting there," he adds. "I've been paying rent without a job, and some of my chickens died." To help Biram, who is scheduled for his 12th of 13 surgeries Friday, defray some of his expenses, his friends have organized a benefit next Thursday at 7pm at Antone's, featuring the Gourds, the Damnations, Jane Bond, the Spiders, the Hard Feelings, White Ghost Shivers, and Box Car Preachers. "It really helps out, but I kinda feel guilty people are doing that for me," Biram demurs. "I feel like I'm on the spot or something." While he continues recuperating, Biram is booking a makeup tour for October and looking forward to promoting his new Lo-Fi Mojo CD, as well as other, simpler pleasures. "I'll just be glad when my stamina's back and the pain's gone, so I can have a Lone Star," he sighs.
All That Jazz
The ongoing saga of the Mercury, involving months of back-and-forth between the building's owners, potential new tenants who dropped out, and Mercury Entertainment owner Mark Collins, appears to have reached a resolution of sorts. After deliberating for two months, Collins chose to let his lease expire last week, opting instead to continue booking Antone's for Direct Events and hoping desperately to spend more time with his wife and young son. Thus, control reverted to Jazz restaurant, which plans to use the room for weddings, private parties, and the like. However, Jazz catering director Kerry Mosser is careful to point out that live music still has a home upstairs. "There's no way in hell I'm going to let that room go to catering only," he says. While there may not be music every night, Mosser says the increased nonmusical activity should help shore up the room's shaky finances, which he stresses were no fault of the Mercury's. "That facility was never designed to exist as a live music venue alone," he says. "By themselves, they just couldn't generate what it needs to be profitable." Under a new name, most likely Upstairs at Jazz, the space will now be available on a for-hire basis to any promoter who wishes to rent it. Mosser says Stubb's and current Mercury booker Philip Croley both plan to continue doing shows there; Croley, for his part, sounds enthusiastic about the new arrangement. "It works out better for all of us," he says. When not sorting out his new responsibilities, Mosser has been holed up at Arlyn Studios laying the groundwork for his band Human's second album. After a succession of lineup changes, the heavy metallurgists -- who play Friday at the Red Eyed Fly with HeKill Three -- have completed the drum tracks and hope to finish up next month, with an eye toward a September release. "It's just a matter of getting it down," Mosser says.
Why Can't We Be Friends?
The hottest thing going among local musicians right now isn't a new band or piece of gear, or even the new Harry Potter book, but rather the bizarrely addictive online community known as Friendster. Originally intended to be an online dating service, Friendster is instead a place for people to see who can get the most friends to browse the vast gallery of users for folks with similar interests and talk smack at levels that would make syndicated sports-talk host Jim Rome proud. Although most recognize Friendster's lighthearted nature, others take it very, very seriously. "Someone ran into one of their friends at a bar," relays former Media Kreep Stefanie Crock. "The guy came up to him and chewed him out for not approving his request for friendship yet!" Although Friendster appears to have little purpose other than offering an online form of six degrees of separation, it's become a form of computer crack all the same. "I log on throughout the day at work when I'm bored," relates Jackie Ono drummer Allyson Lipkin, while Adam Bork (better known as Earthpig) says, "I'm mildly unemployed right now, so I would say at least an hour a day, maybe two." Others have avoided having their lives taken over -- or so they say. "The whole damn Internet teamed up with TV has yet to pull that off," says Winslow bassist Justin Bankston, who swears he limits his Friendster time to 20 minutes a day. The site's bulletin boards are useful for advertising upcoming gigs and parties, but even more attractive are the testimonials that appear on each Friendster member's home page. "I get a huge kick out of writing these long, heartfelt testimonials for people I've never met," says Jon Sanchez of new outfit Jon Sanchez's Summer Wardrobe. "I can make up fanciful tales of car fires, lurid stories of pimping and beatdowns, leisure suits, canes, and capes. ... It's got me very inspired to write." Some of the most popular Friendster users, it turns out, aren't even real people. "I am friends with God, Triumph [the Insult Comic Dog], Klonopin, Vicodin, Lone Star, Cocaine, Marijuana, Everyone, and Drunk," affirms Moonlight Towers guitarist Jacob Schulze. Though he says he already spends more time on Friendster than downloading porn -- "so I guess that means a lot" -- Schulze, for one, still isn't satisfied. "I can't wait for Enemyster," he says. "I'll never have to leave the house." See what all the fuss is about at www.friendster.com.
Matt Meshbane, late of www.bookmyband.com, has somehow convinced his new roommates to let him and some friends he met at the Kerrville Folk Festival host a series of Friday-afternoon house parties at 201 La Vista St., off South Congress. This week's "Hoedown on South Congress" will feature Ethan Azarian, possibly Mike Nicolai, and definitely two kegs of Real Ale. "We tap the kegs at 4:20pm, and the music starts at 7," says Meshbane, who insists parking is available at El Gallo restaurant... Two benefits have been set up Friday for Stanley Smith of the Asylum Street Spankers, who recently suffered kidney failure and has had to go on dialysis: 6:30pm at Cafe Mundi and 10pm at the Flamingo Cantina... Tim Kerr will spin rare Sixties soul and R&B Friday night at Beerland to raise money for Atomic City owner Jim "Prince" Hughes, who was hospitalized last year with "a variety of life-threatening ailments"... Black Lipstick has canceled their upcoming summer tour due to a family emergency, but labelmates the Octopus Project soldier on as scheduled... Finally, "TCB" is proud to introduce a new recurring feature this week, Killer Lifestyle, by local cartoonist Aaron Miller. Named, of course, after the bitchin' Pong album, this week's twofer addresses themes near and dear to all of our hearts: posers and the smoking ban.