Floating down Okkervil's river of golden dreams, taking Pinetop Perkins, Helios Creed, and a bunch of T-shirts along for the ride
Take Me to the River
Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff might be under the weather, but hes practically bouncing off the walls with excitement over the groups new album, Black Sheep Boy, due April 5 on Indiana indie Jagjaguar. "It's our favorite so far," he gushes. "It's a departure in a lot of ways, but also a return to what we were doing in the past." Calling Okkervils fourth LP "folkier, rawer, and with a sharper edge," Sheff says writing most of the songs on tour helped the group relax when they went into the studio. "The songs were so fresh and so immediate," he says. "To me, it felt like this journal of the last year." Sheff has grandiose visions for Aprils Parish CD release, hoping to enlist full string and horn sections and maybe more. "I love all that cheesy, overindulgent, Seventies stuff," he confesses. "I really want to descend a staircase where every step lights up." Before that, Okkervil is seeking a utility man for keyboard, guitar, and mandolin duties during their March-long tour with Portland chamber-pop collective the Decemberists, whose frontman, Colin Meloy, is currently touring an EP of Morrissey covers. "He always surprises me with who his stated influences are," laughs Sheff. "He says he loves the Replacements, but to me, the Decemberists don't sound like the Replacements at all. Theyre more like the exact opposite."
Pinetop's Boogie Woogie
Important things to know about 2005 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and Traditional Blues Album nominee Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins: He's 91 years old. His ivory-tickling fingers are as long and slender as ballpoint pens. He just relocated from LaPorte, Ind., to a modest South Austin apartment a few weeks back, where longtime friend Clifford Antone can keep an eye on him. Hes still got an eye (and ear) for the ladies, as heard on his Grammy-nominated 2004 M.C. release, Ladies Man. Hes booked at NYCs Lincoln Center on Jan. 28 and has a letter from former President Bill Clinton on White House stationery, congratulating him for being named a 2000 NEA National Heritage Fellow. He appeared in The Blues Brothers alongside John Lee Hooker. The Belzoni, Miss., native loves to fish, play solitaire, and sing the blues, but he wont do any of them on Sunday, hoping "the good Lord will forgive me for the other things I do." Perkins has hosted radio programs with Robert Nighthawk, Sonny Boy Williamson, and B.B. King, but he says his biggest influence was Muddy Waters, with whom he played off and on for 30 years. "That Muddy Waters could sing some stuff for you," he affirms. "Thats where I got my stuff, from listening to him."
Off the Rack
Those looking to purchase Butthole Surfers and And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead merchandise online will soon do so via local printing merchants Bearded Lady. The Trail of Dead store will be up in time for Tuesday's release of second Interscope LP Worlds Apart, says Bearded Ladys Josh Chalmers, with the Surfers who haven't had an online store in more than a year following by the end of the month. Both bands were dissatisfied with the impersonal nature of their previous companies and approached Bearded Lady separately. Members of both bands have been friends with Chalmers and partner J.D. Fanning for years, so enlisting the duo was a logical move. "They're trying to make sure they stay local," nods Chalmers. Bearded Lady will print and store all the T-shirts, posters, stickers, LPs, CDs, and 7-inches up for sale; Chalmers says the arrangement amounts to a crash course in Music Biz 101. All the number-crunching, the Oh, Beast! bassist admits, "makes me realize I dont ever want to be in a band that popular."
Mr. Kite's Corner
More tsunami relief from Austin is on the way. Friday at Trophy's, five bucks buys a show from Things That Go Pop, the Handsome Charlies, the Pushpins, the Personals, and Queen of Spades. Saturday's all-day affair at Red's Scoot Inn, again $5, has a DJ at noon, barbecue at 1pm, and live music two hours later from the Unbearables, Jerm Pollet & the Total Foxes, the Black Angels, Purchase New York, the Hat Madder, the Handsome Charlies, and the Platforms. D&L's Texas Music Cafe has devoted its entire weekend to the cause, with all-day shows Saturday and Sunday. Set to appear are Michael Fracasso, Kacy Crowley, Ginger Leigh, Trish and Darin Murphy, the Real Heroes, 54 Seconds, Dale Watson, Carolyn Wonderland, James McMurtry, Two Hoots & a Holler, and more. Tickets are $15 per day or $25 for both; see www.txmusiccafe.com.
The Freed Creed
"He's a fun guy to record with," says Honky and $5 Rock bassman Jeff Pinkus of underground guitar icon and temporary bandmate Helios Creed. "Interesting fella." Creed has been staying with some friends in Smithville and assembled a pickup band for some recording and Fridays show at Room 710 with Dixie Witch, the Sword, and Tia Carrera. Despite Creed's litany of health problems, Pinkus says working with the space-rock pioneer has been inspiring. "He's got eternal youth inside him," he marvels. "He just loves to play it doesn't matter where or when." The band, also including Jerry Page of Crust and drummer Paul Delatela, has been rehearsing songs from several Creed albums The Last Laugh, Superior Catholic Finger, Lactating Purple as well as a couple of Chrome numbers, but Pinkus says the final set list is anyones guess. "It's a big mystery for all of us," he admits. "If one of us doesn't know the songs, hopefully the others will be playing loud enough to cover it up."
Bullet the Blue Sky
The latest still-kicking rock legend (e.g., Lou Reed, Robert Plant) to confirm for SXSW 05 is Brian Wilson, who will anchor a March 18 panel tied to the screening of Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of Smile. No showcase from Wilson, but Elvis Costello & the Imposters, who will hopefully have better sound than their ACL Festival appearance, have been added, as have Nineties indie heroes Vic Chesnutt, Lou Barlow, and Stephen Malkmus. Then there's Doves, Magnolia Electric Co., the Spits, Money Mark, Buck 65, Kathleen Edwards, and the promisingly named Pig Destroyer, to name but a few now posted on SXSW.com. Madness!
Warm up those imaginary amps: preliminary rounds of the Austin Air Guitar Championships begin 9:45pm Tuesday at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown and continue monthly until April. One lucky pseudo-shredder will win a trip to represent Austin at June's Air Guitar USA finals in L.A. To help set the mood, the Alamo will screen the Australian short "No Strings Attached" before Tuesday's wail-off. Sweet!
Real shredders and hair-tossing champs Broken Teeth release their live CD, Blood on the Radio, recorded last March for KLBJ's Local Licks Live, 6pm, Saturday, at Encore Movies & Music, 8820 Burnet Rd. Further opportunities to get "High on Danger" come later that evening at Room 710. Awesome!
Good luck to Austin emo warriors the Cutaway, who are showcasing at Hollywood watering hole the Viper Room on Jan. 31. The boys play the Red Eyed Fly Friday, and an EP will be out before the end of the month. Rad!
Sci-fi groovers Pong take the fight to the Bubblehead's home turf on now-completed second CD, Bubble City. The struggle continues at their Room 710 CD release, Feb. 19, and Saturday at the Continental Club. Far out!
Unbeknownst to anyone including the staff, who only remembered at the last minute Club de Ville quietly celebrated its eighth anniversary Monday night. Here's to at least eight more.
Only two more weeks of the Chronicle Music Poll, online at austinchronicle.com/feedback/musicpoll/05/. Vote!