Slow news week in the Live Music Capital
Insane in the Meshbane
Further reinforcing the idea that Red River is the only street that matters in downtown Austin, the Caucus Club reopened last weekend with live music on the menu. Booking the room is local scenester supreme Matt Meshbane, who was headed to see Tia Carrera at Room 710 last Friday when he noticed the lights were on in the corner venue. After a brief conversation with the manager, he had a new job and his work cut out for him. "It's gonna take a lot of finagling to make that place popular," states Meshbane. He hopes keeping covers at $2 and booking a variety of music will help raise the Caucus' profile; acts he's considering are Sparkwood, Li'l Cap'n Travis steelsmith Sweet Gary Newcomb, and Kissinger frontman Chopper. "I don't know what to do with the place," admits Meshbane. "I could put a bunch of shitty bands in there, but I'm trying to be careful." Not helping is lingering resentment by some in the local indie-pop community stemming from the club's short tenure as Hot Freaks. "Let's let bygones be bygones," urges Meshbane. "We all need more places to play." Meshbane, who also books Easy Rhino's on the Drag and Friday nights at Oltorf coffeehouse the Green Muse, reports he's looking for "a couple of decent sound people," as well as webmasters for the soon-to-be reconstituted Bookmyband.com. Contact him at email@example.com.
Still Digging Doug
"It's my favorite subject," says Shawn Sahm via phone from his house in Boerne. The subject is, naturally, Sahm's late father Doug, who will be remembered at Antone's "Doug Sahm Day" next Thursday, Oct. 23. "My dad was my best friend," says Shawn, who was also one of his father's most frequent musical collaborators. "I graduated Doug Sahm 101 before I was 12." As caretaker of his father's estate, Shawn is astounded at the amount of Doug Sahm imports that have come out since the Tornado's 1999 passing. "Dad would freak on all this stuff," he smiles. Domestically, look for the 2-CD Doug Sahm: The Genuine Texas Groover -- The Atlantic Years in the near future, with alternate takes, rehearsals, guest appearances by Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia, and the unreleased track "Sometimes You've Gotta Stop Chasing Rainbows." To Sahm's other 101 graduate, son Shandon Sahm, drummer for the still-unnamed Gibby Haynes project that hits the Back Room Nov. 22, Doug Sahm Day is "a good way to pay tribute to dad. Clifford [Antone] and [DSD producer] Lucky Tomblin are doing a great job keeping his memory alive." Joining the brothers Sahm in the Antone's tribute to "Pop" is a cast of thousands, including Joe Ely, Charlie Sexton, Ray Benson, Angela Strehli, Warren Storm, Augie Meyers, Tortilla Flats, and the West Side Horns. Tickets are $15.
After eight years, several drummers, and innumerable gigs supporting some of Austin's hardest-rocking bands, The Action Is guitarist Mark Bradley has decided to hang up his strap in order to spend more time with his wife and 16-month-old son Jack Earl. "The band wants to spend a lot more time promoting the new record, and I don't want to go out on the road for six weeks at a time anymore," he says. The Action Is' action has spiked since Ray Flowers of Fifth Column Management signed on as manager last year, and Bradley says several booking agents are also interested in the band. "They want to take this to a level where they can do this for a living," he explains. There are no hard feelings between Bradley, bassist Krissy Recla, singer Adam Farina, and drummer Jake Perlman; quite the contrary. "We're all great friends," Bradley insists. "I lean on Krissy to babysit for me." Bradley will remain part of The Action Is through their shows on Nov. 7 at the Hole in the Wall and Nov. 14 at Beerland and until their fourth LP, which the band has been tracking with Frenchie Smith at the Bubble, is complete. Eventually he hopes to hook up with a singer-songwriter to be named later and play some gigs his son won't need earplugs to attend. "It may not be MC5 rock & roll," Bradley figures. "It may be more like Exile on Main Street."
Down the Dwayne
They're smart. They're hip. They have one of the songs of the year with "Stacy's Mom," a teen daydream some are calling the "Mrs. Robinson" of the MTV2 era. Even with all that, however, New Jersey popsters the Fountains of Wayne still can't get a gig in Austin, or so it seems. The band was in the Lone Star State last weekend playing a radio festival in Houston alongside the much-less-lauded likes of Staind and Trapt, and managed to sneak in a clandestine taping of Austin City Limits Sunday night. There, they announced it was the first time they'd ever plugged in in the capital city. The band's appearance came as a total surprise to one who should be in a position to know about these things, Stubb's Amy Corbin. "I had no idea they played," she says. "We would have been all over that." Although a call to the band's booking agency Tuesday went unreturned, Corbin was able to provide a relatively simple explanation. "Maybe they were tired," she speculates. Right. In semirelated power-pop news, Household Names singer-songwriter Jason Garcia reports a downloadable copy of "Bright Spot," a popular selection on Seattle Web radio station KEXP last year, has been added to MTV's Web site.
Mr. Kite's Corner
Choking Ahogo, Fivehead, Trouble Down South, Mandible, and Blued play at Stubb's Wednesday to raise money for Blued bassist Rob Hall, who was hit by a car downtown last month and is recovering at the Texas NeuroRehab Center. A $5 donation at the door is suggested.
In addition to its weeklong fundraiser continuing through Sunday at Bigsby's, the Austin Music Network is hosting a benefit at 4pm Saturday at Emo's with the Eastside Suicides, Hobble, Dirty Sweets, New Disciples, Shandon Sahm, and the Sweethearts. Later that night, Momos stages another AMN benefit with the Edie Brickell-less New Bohemians, Tall Boys, 139, and Go Nova.
Bullet the Blue Sky
Winslow is no more. The freewheeling space rockers, whose sole recorded output is a 2001 self-titled EP, called it quits last week. Bassist Justin Bankston cited the usual "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for the split. Adding insult to injury, the band's van was recently burglarized, the thieves absconding with guitarist Ken Hatten's burgundy Gibson Explorer.
After seven years, Austin heavy rockers Plow Monday have also decided to call it a day. The band released two albums, and at one point earlier this year, was the most downloaded band in France. Following a farewell show at the Hard Rock Cafe Nov. 15, the four members will continue making music under a new name.
Austin City Limits is giving away tickets to its next taping 10am Friday at Waterloo Records. "Remedy" man Jason Mraz warms up for his Saturday opening slot with Jonny Lang at the Backyard with a 12:30pm matinee that same day at KLRU.
Local label Arclight Records will re-release Houston band Dresden 45's 1989 LP Paradise Lost, a metal/hardcore/punk fusion described as "Slayer meets Minor Threat." The reissue will include eight additional tracks and new artwork, with Dresden 45 storming into Room 710 Nov. 22. Arclight is also working on a compilation tribute to Red River patron saint "Handsome" Joel Svatek.
The Dog & Duck Pub is hosting its inaugural "T.A.P. (Total Austin Party) Fest" Saturday from 3 to 10pm in the parking lot at 406 W. 17th. The free, all-ages event features the energetic strum of the Damnations, Moonlight Towers' blissful Brit-influenced pop, John Croslin's new outfit the Fire Marshals of Bethlehem, Dung Beatles Steve and Kevin's nonfeces-obsessed Fighting Brothers McCarthy, and raucous party-starters the Dirt Track Brawlers. Beer from Real Ale Brewing Co.
Several local artists have landed cuts on recent national compilations. Grupo Fantasma's "Caña Brava" appears on the soundtrack to the new John Sayles flick Casa de los Babys; Spoon's "Tear Me Down" and the Polyphonic Spree's "Wig in a Box" both show up on Wig in a Box: Music From and Inspired by Hedwig and the Angry Inch; and Norah Jones and Willie Nelson contribute to Where We Live, a benefit for environmental organization Earthjustice.