Crunking up the holidays with a legal spat, an old- world reunion, Dolly, and Derek Smalls himself
Two very different Texas institutions are set to spar over an image almost as seminal as the state flag. Last month, Red River punk/garage nexus Beerland received a notice from attorneys for cosmic cowboy shrine Luckenbach, informing them Luckenbach considered Beerland's logo an infringement on their trademark. Owner Randall Stockton begs to differ, saying the star-in-oval design perhaps you've also seen it representing Lone Star Beer, the Lone Star Cafe, and Jerry Jeff Walker should belong to nobody; or, rather, that it belongs to all Texans. "There's just so many people who affiliate themselves with Texas that use this logo," Stockton puzzles. "It's like a birthright." Ironically, Stockton freely admits that if he copped it from anywhere, it's Lone Star, and they're fine with it. "They said, 'That's really weird,'" he affirms. "'If you need anything from us, let us know.'" He's got an attorney looking into the situation, but right now, basically has to sit back and wait to see how aggressively Luckenbach wants to pursue it. "There's a question of what they would get if they sued us," Stockton says. "Or how much publicity they want." Since Beerland isn't exactly rolling in dough, a nasty legal squabble may not be quite the image the pastoral Hill Country hamlet recently profiled on CNN wants to project. "It's not exactly that laid-back cosmic cowboy persona," agrees Stockton. Luckenbach's lawyers, the San Antonio commercial firm of Cox Smith Matthews Inc., hadn't returned a phone call at press time, but "TCB" is very interested in their side of the story.
Radio on the TV
Between Austin City Limits, the Austin Music Network, ACTV, and the WB's All Access Live, Austin probably has as much locally produced music programming as New York, L.A., or London. Maybe more. The airwaves have been even more crowded since August, when UT student station KVR-TV began running Local Live. A three- or four-man camera crew captures bands during radio counterpart KVRX's Sunday-night staple, which has produced eight CDs of Austin upstarts and out-of-town cameos. KVR has now broadcast nine 30-minute episodes, including Waco song-man Ethan Durelle, Dallas' Deathray Davies, and Austin's the Invincible Czars, America Is Waiting, and What Made Milwaukee Famous. Shows by Jerm Pollett, Gorch Fock, Attic Ted, and the Lo-Fives have been shot but not edited, and will be shown when KVR's programming resumes after the holiday break. Unless they're currently stressing over finals from their rooms in Littlefield and Moore-Hill, Austin viewers' best chance to catch the show is Tuesdays, because Travis County TV (Time Warner 16) simulcasts an hour of KVR programming every weeknight at 9pm. (Hip-hop countdown ATX Most Wanted follows Local Live.) Station volunteer Phillip Goetz, spearheading this trans-media synthesis, says finding available hands isn't usually a problem. "Usually I just grab a couple of folks working on audio."
For most of the Nineties, it was possible to visit several European nations without going any farther than the Cactus Cafe, Antone's, or Continental Club. Before expiring in 2001, 81/2 Souvenirs played a supremely danceable assortment of Old World sounds, and Austin audiences ate it up; the band reigned as one of the most popular in town through four albums and three different vocalists. Founder and guitarist Olivier Giraud says that, when a double live disc of the group's final shows, Live Memories, came out last month, Cactus manager Griff Luneburg proposed a reunion. After thinking it over and discussing it with former singer Chrysta Bell, who was "all over it," Giraud set about calling his ex-bandmates two of whom even live in Europe now and furiously practicing for next week's run of four shows in five nights: the Cactus Monday, Flipnotics Wednesday, Antone's Thursday, and the Continental Dec. 17. "I never realized how ridiculous the arrangements are," he chuckles. Jo's Hot Coffee screening Fellini's 81/2 before the Continental date fits Giraud's cinematic idea of the Souvenirs' legacy. "We sort of made a movie and showed it to people," he figures. "A documentary of what's going on with music in other parts of the world."
The Grammy nominations were announced Tuesday, and Los Lonely Boys and Norah Jones each got shut out. Not really. Both nominated for Record of the Year, Jones scored five total, the Boys four. That's fewer than Green Day and Usher, but more than Destiny's Child or Willie Nelson (one and two, respectively). Further Texans honored were Lyle Lovett, the Dixie Chicks, Patty Griffin, Asleep at the Wheel, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Intocable, Ramon Ayala, Emilio Navaira, Joel Guzman, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Eliza Gilkyson, Brave Combo, Vida, Johnny Winter, Pinetop Perkins, James Cotton, and Roy Hargrove. Winners will be announced on CBS Feb. 13.
Singer-songwriter Judith Owen and her husband, satirist supreme Harry Shearer, visited the Saxon Pub Monday. "I hope you boys at the bar can contain yourself until something from Spinal Tap comes on," said the tart-tongued Owen. Interspersing the bitter piano pop of solo album 12 Arrows with garrulous between-song banter, Owen buttered up the cozy crowd by raving about the Saxon's suit of armor and how nice Austin was after previous stop Houston. (That never gets old.) Shearer took over for an amusing ditty about Barbara Walters' many face-lifts, and the couple closed out with a song from A Mighty Wind and "Christmas With the Devil." Spinal Tap at last! "The guys at the bar are so drunk they didn't even notice," cracked Owen afterward.
"It takes a lot of money to look cheap," laughed Smoky Mountain songbird Dolly Parton after her Vegas entrance at the Frank Erwin Center last Thursday. Editing hits like "9 to 5" down to a verse and chorus, and cutting "Jolene" short, the buxom icon took turns at the piano, guitar, dulcimer, fiddle, pennywhistle, Jew's harp, and banjo while cracking back-of-the-bus jokes about Willie Nelson, Ray Benson, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. What a way to make a living!
After years of languishing with the bland River City and even worse Live Music Capital of the World, Austin finally got a decent nickname Sunday. Ana Matronic, singer for ultrafab disco troupe the Scissor Sisters, dubbed our fair city "The Hole in the Bible Belt," and ventured further out on a limb by suggesting that Beyoncé's lustrous mane may not be entirely her real hair. Scandalous!
Bullet the Blue Sky
Zykos have brought in Arm guitarist Alex Lyon, who doesn't mind exhaustive touring, for original member Jarod Harmeier, who does. They've also been tapped to open for gloomy Montreal sensations the Arcade Fire at Emo's next month. Belts and shoelaces confiscated at the door.
Sneer of the Year Billy Idol is ready to give Austin a Whiplash Smile at SXSW 05. Coincidentally, or not, Idol's first original LP in over a decade, Devil's Playground, hits stores March 22. Likewise haunting midsized U.S. venues next spring will be a reunited (yet again) Mötley Crüe.
Multiracial Austin R&B ensemble Unified Tribe have released a version of Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride" as a holiday gift to fans. Listen for it on KAZI or see their Web site. It's smoother than a glass of eggnog.
Six Degrees of Snoop Dogg, or A Dream Fulfilled: "TCB" recently received a nice note from Jason de Leon of Austin's Resolute Productions, who filmed the "Let Me Live" video by Trae, Shyna, and Houston's Z-Ro, who represents the 713 just like Slim Thug, Star Trak labelmates with the "Drop It Like It's Hot" Doggfather himself. Hey, that's only four degrees. Snoop-tastic!