News from Chicago, Las Vegas, Nashville, Houston, New York, and Mexico, all with an Austin connection

The Killers' Brandon Flowers at ACL Fest 2004
The Killers' Brandon Flowers at ACL Fest 2004 (Photo By Mary Sledd)

Lolla Gagging

Unbeknownst to locals until recently, last year Capital Sports & Entertainment took some of their Austin City Limits Music Festival windfall and purchased a stake in the then defunct Lollapalooza from founder Perry Farrell and the William Morris Agency. Then, last Friday, CSE announced plans to remake the former traveling show into a two-day festival July 23 & 24 in Chicago's Grant Park, offering in the neighborhood of 70 bands and a "DJ Spin Tent."

The only catch is, according to a story by Chicago Sun-Times music writer Jim DeRogatis in Monday's edition, that CSE hasn't yet secured final approval from the city. In the past, DeRogatis adds, Chicago officials have been "notoriously hostile to hosting cutting-edge rock music in Grant Park." A spokesperson from Chicago's Park District also told the Sun-Times that neither CSE nor the Parkways Foundation – a nonprofit that raises money for park improvements, named by CSE as partial beneficiary of the Lollapalooza gate – had yet applied for a permit for the festival.

"Until we take a few more steps with the city of Chicago and the various departments we're working with there, we unfortunately can't go on record to refute anything that has been printed," CSE's Stacy Rodrigues said Tuesday. She added that CSE expects some sort of resolution with the city by the end of the week, and that she didn't think the reports had hurt their chances of bringing the festival to fruition.

Preliminary passes to Lollapalooza are still scheduled to go on sale today (Thursday) for $35 at; the lineup won't be announced until April 22. Stubb's booker and ACL Fest talent impresario Charles Attal confirmed he's putting together the Lollapalooza bill, but was unable to offer any specific acts. Industry speculation in Billboard and elsewhere has mentioned ACL Festival alumni the Pixies and Killers, as well as Green Day, Beck, Weezer, and Nine Inch Nails, who play Stubb's May 25. Attal added he was definitely looking at adding some local bands to the bill, but again declined to say who.

Back on the home front, the next ticket rollout for the 2005 ACL Festival is April 15, when a limited amount of three-day passes go on sale for $85. This year's lineup won't be announced until May 5, but Robert Earl Keen, Dierks Bentley, the Ditty Bops, and Low are already listed on Pollstar as playing, and the ever-fruitful local grapevine suggests (hehem) that fans without tickets don't panic but remedy the situation soon lest they be caught under the table and dreaming. What, no Gang of Four?

Pink Swords
Pink Swords (Photo By Aubrey Edwards)

Swords of Destiny

Despite their rowdy stage personae, Austin's Pink Swords aren't the sort of band to go looking for trouble. They don't have to. Trouble has a way of finding them, or at least it did at a Las Vegas performance in February. The 5-year-old punk quintet had ventured west to put the finishing touches on a deal with San Francisco-based Gearhead Records, the full-throttle indie label that also claims the Turbo AC's, Hellacopters, Wildhearts, and Riverboat Gamblers. Gearhead invited the Swords and SF's Black Furies to play in conjunction with its appearance at the Magic trade show in Sin City's Double Down casino.

The band enjoyed the free rum and swag from co-sponsor Sailor Jerry's, and even tried to laugh off an especially persistent heckler. At first, says guitarist Dirty Steve, "We just ignored it, joking with him: 'You're in the happiest place in the world – why are you so mad, man?'" Then the ruffian started messing with the band's equipment, pulling on microphone cords and such, and things took a turn. "At a break in our song, [singer Pits M. Gaffer] dumped this trash can on him because he'd had enough," relays Steve. "Everybody kicked the guy, and they threw him out. Then we went back and finished the song."

When the melee was over, Sanchez says, the Swords had convinced the label's Mike LaVella they were Gearhead material: "He went, 'Dude, first Gearhead riot of the year! You guys are definitely on!'" Currently weighing studio options, the band expects to release its maiden Gearhead offering, the follow-up to 2003's One Night High, around October.

Illustration By Nathan Jensen

Darlin' Dale

While Nashville was consummating its affair with the string-saturated 'countrypolitan' sound in the Sixties, the Little Darlin' label proudly kept the traditional honky-tonk flame alight. Founded by producer Aubrey Mayhew and a young Johnny Paycheck, Little Darlin' released early albums by Paycheck, Stonewall Jackson, and Don Williams before folding in 1969.

"It's some of the best music ever," says Dale Watson, who'll head to Music City later this month to record his next album with the reunited Little Darlin' session players. "Johnny Paycheck's The Little Darlin' Years [reissued on Koch last year], that's right up there with Buck Owens' Buckaroos and the Strangers' stuff."

Watson says he and Mayhew, who will produce the album, had talked about making such a record even before the local honky-tonker cut last year's excellent Dreamland, but "everything fell into place this time around." Lloyd Green, steel guitarist and session leader for Little Darlin', will assume a similar role here, and sent Watson an e-mail saying, "It's just one more chance to cut country music like we did in the golden era."

Watson is also proud to carry on the Little Darlin' tradition of exceptionally frank subject matter, which falls somewhere to the right of the Cure on the gloom-'n'-doom scale. "It was something a lot of folks didn't even want to touch," he says, citing Paycheck's "(Pardon Me) I've Got Someone to Kill" as a prime example.

The final product will include several Paycheck songs, like "Jukebox Charlie," "Lovin' Machine," the more obscure "I Never Had the One I Wanted," and four of Watson's own. "There's stuff on there people are gonna recognize," he promises.


• Today, Thursday, is the last day to register to vote in the May 7 city election that, because of the proposed smoking ban, could profoundly alter Austin's live music landscape. Register at the Travis County Tax Office, 5501 Airport Blvd., or at

• GamePlan Marketing & Events and Bluefish Entertainment, the engines behind the recent Austin Winter Nights concert series, donated $5,000 apiece to the Austin Music Foundation and SIMS Foundation last week. Plans are under way to bring the series back in 2006, and to make it two weeks longer.

• Perpetually grinning Pat Green sits down with Chronicle/News 8 Austin reporter Andy Langer to explain, step by step, how he went from the dorms of Texas Tech to headlining Houston's Reliant Stadium at the recent rodeo. The interview, 6:30pm Monday at Antone's, is part of the Austin Music Foundation's Boot Camp Series.

• No fooling: The City of Houston honored one of its native sons with a proclamation declaring April 1 "Robert Earl Keen Day." Keen, who grew up in the Sharpstown area, was in town to play the University of Houston's Frontier Fiesta; his new album, What I Really Mean, is due May 10.

• Local stompers Ignitor have been added to the second stage of the Monterrey Metal Fest May 28 at the Coca-Cola Auditorium in Monterrey, Mexico. Assaulting the main stage will be, among others, Motörhead, Danzig, W.A.S.P., and Metal Church. Tickets are on sale now via Ticketmaster.

• New York-based Valley Entertainment has picked up Trish Murphy's Girls Get in Free for national distribution, and released Tish Hinojosa's new A Heart Wide Open. Other offerings on the eclectic label include Lullabies From the Axis of Evil, Pornosonic's Cream Streets, and Autumn Thunder: 40 Years of NFL Films Music.

• New local hip-hop records on the way include The Growth, scene stalwart Tee Double's 11th such effort and "most personal album to date." Three tracks from Mirage's upcoming sophomore CD, M.I.R.A.G.E., also appear on his The Other Side of Texas mix CD, which he'll preview at a free party 10pm Friday at the Firehouse Lounge.

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