Getting heavy with Recover, poppy with Voxtrot, and rejoicing that the AMN flap is finally over. More or less.
By Christopher Gray, Fri., July 23, 2004
Hot to Trot
Looking for a way to expand their sizable local following, Austin's Voxtrot were all set to go with Milwaukee's resurrected Bus Stop records, one of the first U.S. labels to give the Anglo twee-pop they're so fond of a home. Then they hit a snag. "[The owner] said, 'We don't have any money,'" relays singer/guitarist Ramesh Srivastava. So Voxtrot decided to do it themselves, and thus was born Cult Hero records. The brand-new label has wasted precious little time, already pressing a 4-song Sound Team EP for the high-energy dance-rockers to take on tour with the Walkmen next month. Srivastava estimates the EP will hit stores in about a month, plus he'd like to get a Voxtrot single in the can before heading back to the University of Glasgow in September. He's also inherited the Northloop Sound System's Sunday-night Caucus Club residency from early Voxtrot champion James Minor as a means to raise money for Cult Hero; the next one is set for Aug. 1, with band TBD. The July 11 installment was a big success, Srivastava says, but the powerful set delivered by local post-punk militants the Arm led to some unforseen consequences. "After they played, everything I played [as DJ] sounded like background music," he chuckles.
As reported Friday on city-politics Web site In Fact Daily, the Austin Music Network has reached an agreement with Austin Community Television to shift at least some of its programming to ACTV once the network's current contract with the city expires Sept. 30. AMN General Manager Louis J. Meyers said Monday the plan still needs to go before the City Council's Telecommunications Infrastructure subcommittee and council itself for final approval. Pending that approval, on Oct. 1 ACTV would take over management of AMN and begin distributing AMN programming across its three channels, which are undergoing overhauls themselves. Dubbed Free TV, Channel 10 would be reserved for general public-access use, with Channel 11 featuring inspirational programming and Channel 16 becoming the education, arts, and music-oriented eaTV. He was unsure how many AMN producers would take their programs to ACTV, but Meyers said it was likely much of AMN's family-oriented programming would wind up on eaTV, with the edgier stuff going to Free TV. "It's a little too early to be much more specific," he cautioned. Though the agreement appears to leave the way clear for the Austin Music Partners to assume control of Channel 15, first council must approve AMP's own proposal. Tuesday, spokeswoman Connie Wodlinger said AMP has agreed to help fund the new eaTV, including paying Meyers' salary as a consultant, as per the Telecom subcommittee's directive for all parties to work out a solution. "Hopefully, it'll be a win-win situation for everyone," she added.
The Beat Goes Off
Beat 104.3 listeners were in for a surprise when they tuned in Monday morning expecting to hear Lil' Flip, Usher, and Mario Winans, but were instead greeted by shock-jock supreme Howard Stern. Seems the station's parent company, New York-based Infinity Broadcasting Inc., decided to switch over to an all-syndicated "hot talk" format, something the Beat air staff discovered at a late-afternoon meeting Friday when they were also issued pink slips. Rumors of an impending format change had been circulating for a while, but DJ 2DQ, who manned turntables for the weekday "Five o'Clock Beatdown" and Friday-morning old-school mix shows, says management repeatedly reassured the staff everything was fine. Then, last Thursday, AllAccess.com reported that Infinity had registered the domain live1043.com, and someone from rival Hot 93.3 called wanting to know what was up. The news was especially surprising, says 2DQ, because the Beat had recently gained ground on 93.3, tying the Emmis-owned station for fifth place overall in the most recent ratings survey. However, he adds, billing was down, which apparently prompted the switch. "That's what it's all about money," he sighs. "They don't care how good you're doing." The Beat, which signed on in 1999 as Austin's first commercial hip-hop/R&B station, went jockless all weekend, leaving 2DQ and his colleagues unable to inform listeners of the impending change. "The saddest part of this whole thing is that we never really got a chance to say goodbye," he says. "That hurt."
After many months of planning, the Handsome Joel Foundation, named for much-missed, perpetually smiling Red River doorman/stage manager "Handsome" Joel Svatek, is official. The foundation got its article of incorporation in the mail Friday, two days after the board installed Angie Jones as president, Joe Sebastian as vice-president, and Jenn Wheeler as secretary (they're still seeking a treasurer). Once the foundation gets its nonprofit application sorted out, Wheeler says, they can finally focus on putting their much-discussed Safe Ride Home program into action. If all goes as planned, Safe Ride will be a system of cab vouchers available at local bars, with the foundation picking up the tab. Fundraising efforts begin on July 30 at Room 710 with a show featuring Honky, the Lower Class Brats, Oklahomos, Dickens, and Shiv. An Arclight Records compilation is also in the making. "It's something we've been thinking about for a year and a half," says Wheeler. "To see it come to life is awesome." The foundation's next meeting is 2pm Sunday, Aug. 8 at Lovejoy's, and open to the public. In related Joel news, the intoxication manslaughter trial connected with Svatek's death last January starts Tuesday at the Travis County Criminal Justice Center. Call Victim's Services at 845-9449 for updates; the case number is 02030382.
When Austin hardcore/emo quartet Recover holed up at a friend's house for eight months last year to record their debut for music-biz bigwig Gary Gersh's Strummer imprint, it was the longest they'd been in one place in four years. The result, titled This May Be the Year I Disappear and due in October, is "a little diary," says singer /guitarist Dan Keyes. The Austin sessions were actually Recover's second go-round at recording the album; Keyes says they scrapped the songs recorded in Hollywood with Linkin Park and Eve 6 producer Don Gilmore as "too wack" and "VH1 pop-rock." The upcoming disc, he says, contains a little bit of everything "really, really hard shit to poppy, but even when we get poppy, we're making fun of pop." After years of touring with the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, AFI, At All Cost, and Armor for Sleep, Keyes says Recover is still happiest when shows remind them of parties back home. "When we show up at a house in Jersey and pack a basement with 200 kids, that's what we wanna do." But then, that's easy for a band who've known one another half their young lives. "I've seriously seen these dudes every day of my life for the past 10 years," Keyes marvels. Recover plays Emo's tonight, Thursday, with Braid, Moneen, and Panic In Detroit.
Bullet the Blue Sky
The Austin City Limits Music Festival has signed on Elvis Costello, the Neville Brothers, Henry Butler, and Chris Robinson & New Earth Mud. Rumors that the Flaming Lips would play proved untrue, but the Okies are reputed to be in town filming a video. Tuesday, New West Records releases a live CD of last year's fest, with R.E.M., Drive-by Truckers, Kings of Leon, and more.
Stubb's has set a Sept. 11 make-up date for ACL Fest alumni the Shins, whose June 9 show got rained out. All tickets still good.
David Thomson, who's behind the Longbranch Inn bar while co-owner Kevin "Kumbala" Crutchfield recuperates from a motorcycle accident, is looking for bands to play an Aug. 1 Kumbala benefit. Call him at 472-5477.
Papa Mali, fresh from jamming at Bonnaroo with George Porter Jr., Maceo Parker, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, has just re-released Thunder Chicken on Swampland Records. Papa's got a brand new bag Friday at Threadgill's World Headquarters.
Ephraim Owens and Allison Thrash light up the Victory Grill Sunday night as part of the historic East 11th Street saloon's revitalization campaign. Recommended donation is $10.
Seminal Nineties blues-punks Bigfoot Chester reunite at Beerland July 30 with the Winks and DJ Mike Mariconda. A CD-R the band plans to record that afternoon at Million Dollar Sound will be available for purchase.