Bracing for SXSW, hailing the Dicks, avoiding the cow pies
Things have never been more placid and serene around the Chronicle office than right now, and that goes double for our SXSW neighbors across the volleyball court. It's not like they have a music festival to run next week or anything.
"I'm fucking tired," says SXSW Music Creative Director Brent Grulke between yawns. "I want a nap."
When he and fellow staffers aren't tending to last-minute logistics like moving the New York Dolls to Stubb's and John Cale to La Zona Rosa, trying to rescue the imperiled Scarface showcase, and plugging in late-breaking adds like MF Doom, Grulke admits he's as amused as everyone else at the fantastical rumors that crop up as the buildup begins to crest.
"I hear everybody in the world," agrees Grulke. "A couple of years ago, we heard Bruce Springsteen, and we were fully prepared to believe he was really coming and was going to do something. I don't know any better than anybody else does, particularly if it's somebody like that, because they really can move in and out undetected."
One rumor that definitely isn't true is the Arcade Fire as the Merge showcase's special guests; the Montreal mopers are booked in jolly olde London that day. Another eyebrow-raiser was Interpol and Spoon joining forces to play under an assumed name, but the New York kids will be en route from Missouri to Florida, leaving Britt Daniel and company with a little extra room on the guest list for their March 17 Austin City Limits taping with Ray LaMontagne.
Though people waiting for the purported Geto Boys reunion will have to keep waiting, every so often one does turn out to be true, like the original lineup of Guided by Voices as special guests at their own hoot night Thursday at Emo's. Like most SXSW shows, a (very) limited number of tickets will be available first-come first-served at the door for those lacking badges or wristbands, which once again sold out a heartbeat after becoming available.
Wristbands are currently going for between $150 and $225 on eBay; SXSW plans to release more Wednesday once they determine how many they can sell and still leave crowds with a modicum of elbow room which, Grulke notes, is often more than people might think.
"[Historically], most people with wristbands have been able to get into most shows. That's what we want to and need to maintain."
Maintaining sanity, on the other hand, is now a luxury best left to a different week. SXSW is here. Hold on tight and enjoy the ride.
For someone who doesn't live here, and doesn't even play here all that often, Bob Dylan sure seems to love Austin musicians. The curmudgeonly icon has now recruited Antone's stalwart (and ex-Dylan guitarist Charlie Sexton's mentor) Denny Freeman and former Hot Club of Cowtown fiddler Elana Fremerman for his band. Not joining the ranks of the never-ending tour, at least not yet, is Carolyn Wonderland, who has sat in with Dylan before and been the subject of such speculation for a while.
Not Dark Yet
"Certainly not this tour," she says. "I'd just like to shake his hand again."
Dylan is not expected to show up for the Hole in the Wall's March 20 hoot night in his honor, but organizer Paul Minor allows, "Maybe some people who've played with Bob" will be there to join the Damnations, Scott H. Biram, Michael Fracasso, Superego, Beaver Nelson, and the Small Stars.
Local artist Federico's subterranean homesick mural outside the Hole (pictured) will stay up after the hoot; Federico is selling woodcuttings of Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Buddy Holly at the show. One-named artists seem to be all the rage these days; Minor says Federico's mural "isn't on the same scale of [Christo's] The Gates, but it's equally significant." The show is free, but a $5 donation for the SIMS Foundation is encouraged.
If word on the street is any indication, the Dicks are much more popular now than when they were actually around. Their two-night Room 710 stand this weekend Friday with Faster Disaster, Castle Siege, and the Bulemics, and Saturday with Free Range Bastards, the Ugly Beats, and the Ends has had Red River denizens buzzing for months. A quick word of advice: come early.
Back to the Bookstore
"Some people are saying, 'There'll be 1,000 people,'" marvels bassist Buxf Parrot. "I'm like, 'Bullshit, there were never 1,000 when we were playing, why would there be now?' But who knows?" The punk rockers' legend has increased tenfold since singer Gary Floyd packed up and left for San Francisco in the mid-Eighties; even Parrot admits he's impressed their songs have held up.
The 710 lineup will be the same as their well-received reunion last fall in San Francisco, except for Davy Jones subbing for the injured Brian Magee on guitar; Parrot says he and Floyd have even talked about maybe going back into the studio. The newly svelte singer's weight loss, he adds, hasn't affected his formidable howl a bit. "We were wondering since he lost so much weight if he could still belt 'em out like he used to," Parrot says. "He still can."
Elysium owner John Wickham, already a key figure in the anti-smoking-ban fight, has decided to take it a step further. Monday, Wickham filed to run for City Council Place 4, currently held by Betty Dunkerly, in the May 7 city election. "It became apparent to me that somebody needed to speak out for the live music venues and the small business owners," he says. "Because, apparently, it wasn't getting done." Wickham's decision comes on the heels of more smoking-related subterfuge at last week's council meeting, when Daryl Slusher led a late-night gambit to strike "live music venues" from the ballot language of the anti-smoking referendum. "In my mind, it confuses the voters," Wickham says. "I think it's concealing from them that this ballot initiative is going to be bad for live music."
Strike Live Music
There could be no better metaphor for March in Austin than a steaming, stamping, pissed-off half-ton bull furiously bucking back and forth as some leather-skinned cowboy holds on for dear life. Also, the rodeo is in town. With some of the brighter lights to come out of Nashville lately, a couple of Texas music titans, and native son Nelly as the rodeo's first-ever rapper, this year's lineup is rarin' to go. Tickets through Texas Box Office or online at www.staroftexas.org.
March 12: Cross Canadian Ragweed
March 13: Charlie Daniels Band
March 15: Maroon 5
March 16: Dierks Bentley
March 17: Gary Allan
March 18: .38 Special
March 19: Brad Paisley (two shows)
March 20: Grupo Pesado
March 22: Clay Walker
March 23: Nelly
March 24: Kevin Fowler
March 25: Terri Clark
March 26: Joe Nichols