Smoke 'Em if You Got 'Em
For now, at least. With minimal fanfare, the first provision of the controversial smoking ordinance passed by City Council last year went into effect Feb. 1. Live music venues must now set aside the first Monday of each month to be smoke-free all night, though those not normally open Mondays are not required to do so. The remainder of the ordinance goes into effect May 1 and is likely to have a much more profound effect, because it requires the purchase of either unrestricted or restricted smoking permits. Unrestricted permits cover venues that derive at least 70% of their revenue from alcohol and forbid entry by anyone under 18, while the restricted variety requires an enclosed smoking area with a separate ventilation system and no under-18 entry during the smoking hours of 2pm-6am. Ironically, those most affected are kids too young to (legally) smoke, because most Austin bars and clubs will be unaffected past having to shell out for the permit, but those that allow under-18 entry will have to choose between confining all-ages shows to that first Monday or going smoke-free across the board. Vince Delisi, senior sanitarian with the city's Health and Human Services Department, says he hopes to have permit applications ready by March 1, and that enforcement of the ordinance will largely be complaint-based. "I just don't have the staff to go door-to-door," he says, so stay tuned.
SXSW Sprinkles: Hey, Remember the Nineties?
In the words of one of that decade's most eloquent statesmen, what's the deal with all the Nineties bands playing SXSW? Everyone originally thought this year's festival would be a combined episode of VH1's I Love the 80's and Bands Reunited (i.e., Mission of Burma, Metal Urbain, Dramarama, the Church), given further credence by recent adds Joan Jett and the Romantics. Now, however, the 04 list is equally flush with acts whose golden years went down during the Clinton administration: Sponge, Soul Coughing's Mike Doughty, American Music Club, Bettie Serveert, Tracy Bonham, Cake, Cracker, Lisa Loeb, the Posies, and Urge Overkill. How 'bout going back another decade for Graham Parker, the Eagles' Bernie Leadon or the Cowsills' namesake Susan Cowsill? Those interested in tomorrow will want to check out two new versions of SXSW 02 headliner Norah Jones both male (Jamie Cullum) and female (Angela McCluskey) Kristin Hersh's new band 50 Foot Wave, and former Babes in Toyland mistress Kat Bjelland's new Katastrophy Wife. Keep an eye out for Cafe Tacuba buds Control Machete and Mexico's N.W.A and El Tri, as well as "Mad World" breakout Gary Jules, England's the Cooper Temple Clause and
, and Canadians Broken Social Scene and the Stills. With more than 1,100 acts set to go and a schedule now online at SXSW.com, Music Festival Creative Director Brent Grulke sums up the activity level at HQ in one word: "frenzied."