O beautiful, for Prince, Ray Charles, and 100 pounds of weed
John Walker's Blues
The night of June 2, Ignorance Park members Johnny Walker and Bobby Chapa were pulled over for an illegal U-turn in Poplar Bluff, Mo., and police discovered a small amount of marijuana in Walker's pocket. Chapa then disappeared, while upon further search, officers found 100 pounds of pot in the trunk of the pair's rental car. Walker was subsequently arrested for possession with intent to distribute and held on $100,000 bond, the Poplar Bluff newspaper reporting that the bust was the largest amount of marijuana found in a vehicle in Butler County history. Two days later, Chapa turned himself in, posted a $10,000 surety bond and $14,000 in cash, and was allowed to return to Texas after being charged with felony drug trafficking. Meanwhile, the district attorney dropped all felony charges against Walker, who in turn pled guilty to misdemeanor possession and received two years probation. Because he was unable to bond out, Walker won't be released until his June 24 preliminary hearing, but his mother Lynn Alexander reports that the gregarious frontman's spirits are good. "He's made plenty of friends," she says. "Even the people that run the jail." Emo's is holding a two-day benefit for Walker Sunday and Monday.
On the Download
Tower Records closed Sunday, a sad affair at the end, but one local label has already moved on. On May 1, Aspyr, home to weather-beaten local roots-rockers Milton Mapes and sad-eyed surrealists Knife in the Water, became a member of Apple's iTunes family. All three Knife albums, both Mapes efforts, and the Gourds' Growin' a Beard soundtrack are now available for download at 99 cents a song. Aspyr Music producer Chad Beck says the bonus tracks on Knife's Plays One Sound and Others and Red River are especially popular, and that tracks bands elect not to use on albums like the one Mapes is currently recording in Pflugerville could now wind up online. Beck is especially proud that Aspyr was added shortly after major indies like Matador and Yep Roc, but unless they're the Pixies, unsigned bands are still largely out of luck. For now.
At Monday's last-minute Austin Music Commission meeting, "TCB" heard the phrase "cart before the horse" at least half a dozen times. The subject was, yet again, the competing proposals for the future of Channel 15. Citing a lack of information on the proposal submitted by the Austin Music Partners, specifically details of the group's agreement with Time Warner Cable, the commission passed a resolution recommending that City Council not accept AMP's proposal at its June 24 meeting. If the council does accept, the commission favors exploring ways to ensure the existing network's survival. On that front, matters were complicated further when members of the ACTV board said merging with AMN could actually be detrimental to both parties. Some commission members also took issue with the way council has handled the whole situation. "This was basically dumped on us by council, and now it's our responsibility to sort it out," an exasperated Angela Gillen said.
Pass the Word On
In his own words, Little Milton plays music that's "simple but soulful and meaningful, and down-to-earth about everyday life." "TCB" caught up with B.B. King and T-Bone Walker's peer as he drove to Memphis from his native Mississippi Delta. The 68-year-old singer-songwriter-guitarist-bandleader pulls into Antone's for this Saturday's Juneteenth Bluesfest.
TCB: Did they have anything like Juneteenth where you grew up?
LM: No, everybody around this area basically celebrates the Fourth of July. I never heard about this Juneteenth thing until I started playing Texas.
TCB: Are you worried that the blues doesn't appeal to younger African-Americans?
LM: It's a concern, because I know the younger folks are missing such great musical heritage. In the days of slavery, this is how they would send a message. They would be singing about things, what they were going to do. Pass the word on.
I think what has happened with black folk is we have a tendency not to want to be associated with those trying times, those times when people had to live in their little shacks and work from sunup to sundown for very little pay, if any, and they were abused.
I think they just don't want to let their minds go back to that kind of thing. They think when you say "blues" that this is the association that you have to deal with, but that's not the case. I think the music goes way beyond that.
TCB: How long have you known the Antones?
LM: Oh, I should say too long [laughs]. When [Clifford] had the little club downtown there, the very first Antone's, that's when I met him. This was the initial time that he and Albert King got to be good friends. I used to come into Austin and play for him then, and we got to be very, very decent friends and great associates.
W.C. Clark, Blues Boy Hubbard, and the Texas Eastside Kings open, 9pm.
W.C. Clark, Blues Boy Hubbard, and the Texas Eastside Kings open, 9pm.
What'd He Say?
Seven Spanish angels took one of their own home last week when Brother Ray Charles, whose final Austin appearance came at 2001's KGSR Blues Festival, passed at age 73. As his lump-raising "America the Beautiful" wafted over Waterloo Park that warm May night, no one knew it would be one of the last times simple patriotism could exist on its own, without being inextricably linked first with devastating grief and then belligerent militarism. Thanks, Brother Ray.
The rain wasn't purple heading down 2 the San Antonio stop of Prince's Musicology tour June 9, but it was plentiful enough 2 submerge parts of I-35 and the access road near the SBC Center. Even so, the storm outside wasn't half as intense as what went down when the Purple One and his tight-ass band (featuring the one and only Maceo Parker) hopped on the in-the-round stage about 8:30pm. After "Musicology" briefly nodded to Archie Bell & the Drells' "Tighten Up," a rapturous Purple Rain medley sent spirits in2 the stratosphere, where they remained 4 a solid hour, topped by the marathon funk workout of "Controversy." A solo acoustic interlude followed, with "Little Red Corvette," "Cream," and "Raspberry Beret," featuring a chatty, self-deprecating Prince. The band re-emerged on "7," and Mr. Nelson laid waste 2 the entire Cotton Bowl guitarmy at last weekend's Crossroads Fest, never more so than during a "Purple Rain" finale that left the sold-out crowd wondering if they'd just seen Prince ... or God. Sell a kidney 2 get 2 his Aug. 7-8 Houston stand if U have 2.
BULLET THE BLUE SKY
Cheatham Street Warehouse, the San Marcos saloon that hosted George Strait's first gigs with the Ace in the Hole Band and Stevie Vaughan before he ever thought about adding the "Ray" welcomes all alumni for its 30-year reunion Saturday. Fiddler Alvin Crow commandeers the bandstand.
Local online mag Let Them Eat Lead is joining forces with RockinBones.net to lens a video version of their pull-no-punches zine Saturday at Beerland. See "Recommended" for the ruckus-raising lineup featuring the Kodiaks.
Austin troubadour Slaid Cleaves didn't much care for the NBA Finals distracting his crowd during a recent Massachusetts gig, so after the club owner refused to turn off the TVs, he unplugged them himself. Asked to leave shortly thereafter, Cleaves stuck around to play for around 90 fans in a nearby parking lot.
Nearly a year after their self-titled debut came out, Los Lonely Boys are still gathering steam. The album went gold (500,000 sold) earlier this month, and hit single "Heaven" is now No. 30 on Billboard's Hot 100. Last Friday, the trio explained their "musical burrito" theory to a nonplussed Bob Costas on HBO's On the Record.
Need an extra crucifix or two? Elysium is having a free "Graveyard Sale" 5-8pm Saturday, with CDs, DVDs, artifacts, and lots more up for grabs at prices that are downright eerie.