Requiem for the Austin Music Network, news on Zykos, the Arm, Victory Grill, and more
SWITCHING CHANNELS: To the indignation of some, and relief of others, a decade of political wrangling and improbable perseverance ends Sept. 1 when the Austin Music Network yields Channel 15 to the privately owned Austin Music Partners' planned regional arts network Music + Entertainment Austin. Though the city announced plans to give Channel 15 to AMP last year, the transition has hardly been smooth, and questions linger over the rights to AMN's library of videos and live footage. A memo to City Council last week, written by Assistant City Attorney Sonny Hood, seems to grant AMP those rights wholesale, while others in the music community have questioned the legality (and morality) of the city turning over content intended for noncommercial use to a commercial enterprise. AMP's Connie Wodlinger says she has sent out an advisory to the major record labels notifying them of the changeover, and local instances will be handled on a case-by-case basis. "Anything [local] we want, we'll obviously go back and get the rights to air it, but I don't think there'll be that much," she says. (A major selling point of AMP's proposal was higher production values than AMN could offer.) AMP plans to use the library while preparing its own programming, scheduled to debut in October, about which Wodlinger says, "The first month will look very similar to what it is now." City Council is scheduled to decide whether to keep the current AMN as an Internet-only station at their Aug. 25 meeting; although AMN has been weaned from city money since last year, programming director Clay Fain admits the impression he gets is that City Hall is ready to wash its hands of the whole affair. "That's what it feels like," he sighs.
THIEVES IN THE TEMPLE: UK visitors Nic Armstrong & the Thieves have made themselves right at home in Austin, but then their first-ever SXSW experience was eating in Stubb's VIP area after passing themselves off as Franz Ferdinand. They also gave the crowd at New West Records' all-acoustic Club de Ville day party quite a jolt. "They got a shock," says bassist Shane Lawlor of their set. "There wasn't an acoustic guitar in sight." New West didn't seem to mind, releasing the band's garagey debut, The Greatest White Liar, in March, but the label did put them to work when they turned up earlier this month to woodshed their second album at Austin's Music Lab. "We spent the first few days putting up shelves in their new stockroom," Lawlor says. "Our first honest days' labor in months." Indeed, the Brits profess good behavior during their stay. "On tour it's hectic, you go out and get trashed every night," says Armstrong. "But we're in a working zone here, though we could do with better lighting." They've already scored a number of local gigs, including Friday at Stubb's with World Leader Pretend, and thanks to Lawlor's advance scouting he moved here three months ago to join his fiancée they've discovered the Jackalope, Crown & Anchor, and Hole in the Wall. So might the other Thieves consider following their bassist's lead? "Nothing's ruled out yet," says guitarist Glynn Wedgewood. "I hope they don't," counters Lawlor. "I was enjoying the peace and quiet."
VICTORY MARCH: The Victory Grill, the oldest noncontinuously operating music venue in Austin, celebrates its 60th birthday 10am-12mid Sunday with a three-pronged program: a gospel brunch, storytelling and spoken-word performances, and a Clifford Antone-hosted jazz/blues blowout with the Ephraim Owens band, Blues Specialists, Hosea Hargrove, "Blues Boy" Hubbard, and more. "I want people to know it's a party," says owner Eva Lindsey. "We're gonna dance, make noise, and have a big birthday cake." It's also a fundraiser for the Grill's ongoing renovations, which Lindsey figures will take at least another year. "Unless we get some folks to say, 'We're ready for the Victory to be done,'" she says. "I know I'm ready for it to be done." Tickets are $25 per event or $60 for an all-day pass.
Houses of the Holy
FERTILITY RITES: "Vegas is clouding my brain," admits Zykos frontman Mike Booher, enjoying a few days at the Bellagio with his family. When he gets back, the local indie rockers will continue breaking in new arrival and former 1986 drummer Cully Symington. "Just in a few practices with him, there's been a ton of ideas," Booher says. "It's probably the most stuff we've ever had to sort through." The quintet plans to spend the rest of 2005 writing and recording their third album; since they don't have a label right now, they're free to set their own pace. "Both [previous] albums, we weren't able to take our time," says the singer. "We want to be natural and not freak out about it." Zykos warms up for their first-ever ACL Fest appearance at a free Emo's show Sept. 9 with Phosphorescent, Voxtrot, and Loxly.
ARMED TO THE TEETH: Austin's INDIErect Records will follow up Ghostland Observatory's delete.delete.i.eat.meat with another CD destined for heavy KVRX rotation: a five-song EP from the Arm tentatively titled Call You Out. Recorded in February and scheduled for release late next month or in early October, the EP would be the abrasive post-punkers' first output since their self-titled November 2003 LP. But it doesn't stop there: Frontman Sean O'Neal says he'd also like to put out an album before year's end, "provided the material and the backing come together by then." Catch the Arm Aug. 23 at Beerland with Attack Formation and Those Peabodys.
FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. KITE: Room 710 is having a benefit Sunday for the family of Reloaded magazine publisher Joe Claytor, who was killed in a car accident last month. Honky, the Black Novas, and the High Divers play for $5... Gregarious, heavily tattooed Hole in the Wall bartender Waldo has been unable to work after knee surgery, so his friends have organized "Waldofest" Sept. 4 at the Hole to help him out. Stickpony, Elvis on Speed, the Nortons, Floozy, the Passed Out Fliers, Texacala Jones & Her TJ Hookers, 20-Eyed Dragon, Two Hoots and a Holler, and the Rockland Eagles take the stage starting at 4pm.
Austin singer-songwriter Eliza Gilkyson, backed by Glen Fukunaga, performed in Crawford last weekend at a rally for Cindy Sheehan, the California woman who lost her son Casey in Iraq last year, and whose vigil outside President Bush's ranch has drawn international attention. Gilkyson has made no secret of her opposition to the war through songs like "Man of God" on her new LP Paradise Hotel.
In Through the Out Door
The Church of the Friendly Ghost, the Eastside experimental venue forced to shut down earlier this year, hasn't gone completely quiet. While he awaits a new certificate of occupancy, owner Aaron Mace is using the Church's current zoning designation as a studio/gallery to program what he calls "sound installations" and "parties," keeping crowds to 40-50 people and not charging for use of the space or cover. "Until I'm properly incorporated with tax ID number and whatnot, that's how it will be," he says.
Direct Events has contracted with GetTix.net, a subsidiary of Global Entertainment Corporation, to handle ticket sales for all post-Oct. 5 events at its five Austin-area venues: the Backyard, Austin Music Hall, La Zona Rosa, Antone's, and the Glenn. Besides online, local GetTix outlets are Waterloo Records and all Pinky's Wireless locations, or by phone at 866/443-8849.
End of an Ear is giving away a pair of tickets to eccentric Houston guitarist Jandek's sold-out Aug. 28 show at the Scottish Rite Theater. To enter, drop your name and contact info in the box at the store; winners will be notified by Aug. 26. If you happen to spend $25 while there, you win a coupon for a free coffee at the nearby Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse.
Peek-a-Boo Records, home to beloved local bands past and present Silver Scooter, the Kiss Offs, Octopus Project, Black Lipstick marks its 10th anniversary with a new Web site and catalog sale; several long out-of-print vinyl releases are also now available at iTunes and eMusic. Check it out at www.peekaboorecords.com.