Party on Red River or in Kansas, with Attack Formation if need be, but you must submit to the all-consuming power of BOB
As civic leaders investigate ways to make Sixth Street more "family-friendly" just lower the drinking age, geniuses Red River is poised to stake its most serious claim yet for the title of Austin's premier live-music district. Long discussed on the street and off, the first annual Red River Rock Out is a little more than a month away from being a reality. On Oct. 8 & 9, Emo's, Room 710, Headhunters, Beerland, Elysium, Red Eyed Fly, the Caucus Club, and the newly opened Side Bar will all throw in for a weekend that sounds, on the surface, pretty routine. Dozens of bands will play, the street will resemble a carnival midway like it doesn't already and a lot of money will change hands. The principle difference appears to be the $20 wristband good for two-night admission to any participating club; details for where and when to buy them haven't been set, but each venue will also offer a separate cover. Further plans call for a poster show, daytime panels, and "next generation" day showcases at Emo's. (Sound familiar yet?) In keeping with the strip's spirit of charity amid debauchery, some proceeds will benefit the SIMS and Handsome Joel foundations. But even more than giving Red River regulars a reason to celebrate after a rough year, if the Rock Out goes over, the repercussions will be felt throughout Austin.
Kansas isn't really known for a whole lot except wheat, The Wizard of Oz, and a university that's won a few basketball games. But in 1856, the fight over slavery provoked a raid on Lawrence that was one of the first dominoes to fall along the path to Civil War. Nearly 150 years later, Mike McCoy of Lawrence/Austin band Cher UK decided Kansas hadn't bled enough, or else he just wanted to see his friends from Minneapolis and Austin, so he organized the North Vs. South Music Festival. Hosted by Lawrence bars the Replay Lounge and Jackpot Saloon Aug. 19-21, NvS pitted Austin's Grand Champeen, Moonlight Towers, Rockland Eagles, the Wannabes, and Stickpony against Northmen Ol' Yeller, Baby Grant Johnson, ex-Hüsker Dü drummer Grant Hart, and turncoat Texan Mike Nicolai (who, to be fair, is a Twin Cities native). Things got off to a rockin' start at both ends when Towers were busted with a pinch of weed south of Fort Worth prompting a last-second benefit tonight (Thursday) at Room 710 and Minneapolis' Magnolias canceled after their drummer took a foul ball in the crotch while playing mascot at a Twins game, fell, and broke his wrist. Wannabes bassist Hunter Darby says overall, "The Southern people weren't shaved as well." The jam-session barbecues hosted by McCoy were even more fun than the actual gigs, he adds, but the late-night aftermath wasn't pretty. "All you could see was bodies. It looked like a war happened." The blue and gray souvenir jackets couldn't have helped.
McCoy and Darby's Cher USA plays Stubb's indoors Friday with the Dung Beatles.
News 8 Austin's Andy Langer, left, buys lunch at Threadgill's for ACL Music Fest acts Bob Schneider, Kacy Crowley, Guy Forsyth, Dale Watson, and Pat Green for News 8's 30-minute ACL preview, which premieres Sept. 11 at 10am. Langer's 15-minute wrap-ups will air immediately following each day's action, and News 8's annual ACL rooftop music series begins Sept. 5.
SceneStealers: Attack Formation
Halfway through an all-day recording session at ramshackle downtown studio Sweatbox, it's hard to tell who's in Attack Formation and who's just hanging out. Engineer Tim Kerr gives the hi sign, and a brisk cymbal shuffle gradually gives way to a pulsating Krautrock keyboard motif, as random trumpet bleats spar with a gnarly guitar lick that could have crawled up from Little Steven's Underground Garage.
Meanwhile, Ben Webster, despite being co-founder (since '99) and nominal nucleus of ATF's "collective rock," does little more than wave a drumstick in the air, as Ken Holland spends the entire take texting someone on his cellphone.
"I haven't played one instrument all day," says Webster, adding that it's incorrect to consider him any kind of conductor. "These dudes are way too talented to have a leader."
Comprising Attack Formation, at least today, are Webster, Holland, Bill Brown, Reagan Van Matre, Bill Jeffery, Nick Moulos, Moses Mayo, Rebecca Whitley, Omari, and Sweatbox owner Bryan Nelson. Instruments withheld by request, and because it's possible even the members can't keep track.
"It's all pretty happenstance," Webster admits. "Sometimes people don't even know each other."
Considering today's players also toil in Total Sound Group Direct Action Committee, Sub Oslo, Makeshift Shelter, Her Space Holiday, and Gorch Fock, to name a few, chops aren't an issue. Unless, of course, it's a total stranger. The next member, Webster says, "could be some weird guy that just wandered in for a song."
Attack Formation plays a free show with the Sword at the Whiskey Bar tonight (Thursday).
BOB's Yer Uncle
Austin can now hear the future of radio, or at least one possible future, at 103.5, or BOB-FM. BOB, which retains Oldies 103's KEYI call letters, signed on Aug. 20 with no DJs and a promise to play "anything." Whether it reminds people of their iPods or the golden age of AM radio, BOB's nonformat is strangely addictive. It's certainly nothing you haven't heard before, 1,000 times at that, but flipping the dial isn't an option because you have to hear whatever might be coming up next. In an era defined by niche marketing and hyper-specific narrowcasting, the station's broad-based m.o. is both wholly corporate and completely different. Besides, BOB's parent company, Emmis Broadcasting which also controls KLBJ, KGSR, Hot 93.3, and 101X is bound to water it down or fuck it up eventually, so enjoy it while it lasts. In that vein, here's three suggestions to make BOB even cooler:
Tex it up a little bit.
Nothing drastic, but throwing in stuff like Charlie Sexton's "Beat's So Lonely" or even Lucinda Williams' "Passionate Kisses" a couple of times an hour would go a long way toward making BOB feel like a real Austin venture.
Get weirder as the day goes on.
What other commercial station has the potential to start out with the Carpenters and Maroon 5 for the morning then graduate to the Ramones, Sugarcubes, and Modest Mouse in the wee hours?
Keep it real.
Listeners and local celebrities could shell out to program blocks of airtime, with the proceeds going to charity. "TCB," for one, would love to have a crack at it.
A sampling of 6:30-7pm Monday, Aug. 30.
FLEETWOOD MAC, "Don't Stop"
FINE YOUNG CANNIBALS, "Good Thing"
J. GEILS BAND, "Centerfold"
HOOBASTANK, "The Reason"
THIN LIZZY, "The Boys Are Back in Town"
GARY NUMAN, "Cars"
THE ROMANTICS, "What I Like About You"
ARETHA FRANKLIN, "Respect"
SCANDAL, "Goodbye to You"
DISHWALLA, "Counting Blue Cars"
BOB FM's listener line is 908-4900.
Bullet the Blue Sky
Gypsy swingers Hot Club of Cowtown are a big hit on their minor-league ballpark tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. Nelson has joined Hot Club onstage several times, and violinist Elana Fremerman regularly sits in with Dylan. More at: www.groups.yahoo.com/group/hotclubofcowtown.
New DVDs of local interest include Stevie Ray Vaughan's double-disc Live at Montreux, Los Lonely Boys' Live in Austin (special preview Sept. 13 at the Alamo Downtown), and Sept. 7's Thickfreakness in Austin, a Black Keys show shot here by locals Jumper Productions, attached to the Akron, Ohio, duo's fresh Rubber Factor.
Scott H. Biram and sometime Hank Williams III bass-slapper Joe Buck swoop into Room 710 Tuesday on their Battle of the One Man Bands tour. Austin's John Schooley referees.
You don't have to party as hard as Rick James to check out before your time. Laura Branigan may be gone, but "Gloria" lives on anywhere there's a Girl's Night Out in progress.