The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's Sales to Intoxicated Persons operation, which authorizes agents to enter bars and arrest people who appear drunk regardless of their actual alcohol intake came under fire almost from the moment it hit the media last month. The TABC's Web site acknowledges an increase in phone calls and e-mails to the agency, "some of them negative," and it already appears to be impacting the local bar business. A Chronicle writer attended last week's James McMurtry show at the Continental Club and says the doorman told him that people who show up and have been, or appear to have been, drinking will be denied entry, as may those who don't drink but like to kick up their heels a little too much on the dance floor. Continental owner Steve Wertheimer says this is mostly consistent with existing club policy. "In addition to everybody being TABC-certified and taking those courses, a couple of times a year I have the TABC agents come out to the club, and we have a meeting where they sit down and have a Q&A with my employees," he says. "I don't think we have any new rules." If anything, he adds, employees now have a concrete reason to refuse intoxicated persons entry or service, and as far as overzealous dancers, "If anybody gets rowdy and starts making other patrons uncomfortable, we're going to toss them out anyway." Beerland's Randall Stockton says that so far he's been incident-free and hasn't noticed any drop in business since the rash of publicity for the TABC operation which has actually been going on since 2001 but he's heard people talk: "I've had a lot of people tell me the reason they're not out as much is that between the smoking ban and [possibly] being arrested for [public intoxication], it's just not worth going to a bar anymore." Concerns like these drove Texas State Rep. Kino Flores (D-Palmview), chair of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, to send TABC Administrator Alan Steen a letter last week asking him to consider a moratorium on the operation until an April 17 meeting of Flores' committee. Steen sent a letter back Tuesday saying, "We are immediately taking steps to correct any areas that may need attention."
Caught in the Act
Emo's now comprises an entire block of Austin real estate, as the former K Bar at the corner of Sixth Street and Red River re-opened as Emo's Lounge last weekend. Owner Frank Hendrix closed the deal with sellers Pecan Street Partners March 13 for the same price, ironically, he offered them nine months ago. (Even better, PSP includes current Austin mayor Will Wynn.) "Now all the people who leave Emo's because it's too fucking loud have a place to go," said Hendrix during SXSW, when it was still known as Emo's IV. He hired the Ritz staff that was recently let go during that Sixth Street fixture's own recent makeover, and says the Lounge will begin serving food next month. Besides the full bar, video games, pinball machines, and jukebox that was playing the Dixie Chicks when TCB visited Saturday, Hendrix joked the new bar's best features may be its eight pristine bathrooms: "You're not going to want to shit at home anymore." (Certainly not at Emo's proper.) He envisions a retail-residential high-rise atop a Stubb's/Austin Music Hall-like venue ... someday. "I figure it'll take me paying this down for about five years before the bank will talk to me again."
Daniel Johnston is feeling much better after last fall's health scare, and is even up to traveling a bit, reports brother Dick. "That's unusual for him," says Dick, who also runs Johnston's official Web site, HiHowAreYou.com. "He's a homebody. You usually have to push him to get out and do something." Johnston made it to New York's Whitney Museum last month to see his artwork featured in its famous Biennial exhibition and plans a trip to London's Barbican Hall next week to perform alongside Teenage Fanclub, Jason Pierce of Spiritualized, and Vic Chesnutt at a special tribute. (Dick rates his brother's chances of playing Friday's Glass Eye show at Room 710 as "low probability, but possible.") Even convalescing, he's prolific as ever; The Electric Ghosts, from the Hyperjinx Triangle sessions Johnston and tour manager Don Goede recorded in various hotel rooms in 1999, came out on Important Records last week. Next up from Johnston's own Eternal Yip Eye Music label is Welcome to My World, favorites selected to accompany the wide release of Jeff Feuerzeig's award-winning documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, which opens April 21 in Houston and Dallas and May 5 in Austin. Lost and Found, due later this year, will contain his newest efforts. "That's how he bides his time: listening to music, drawing, and writing songs," says Dick. "That's what he did as a teenager, and he's still doing it."
Since his first album Cheatin' Heart Attack, Dale Watson has presented himself as a living, breathing, twanging antidote to the "Nashville Rash." He's also just released a new album, Whiskey or God (see "Texas Platters"), whose title track strongly echoes Music City superstar Tim McGraw's 2004 hit, "Drugs or Jesus." What gives?
SUMMARY, 'GOD': Man vows to find salvation "bendin' my elbow or my knees."
SAMPLE LYRIC: "I'm gonna drink until my conscience fades; before I fall asleep I'm gonna say a prayer for a brighter day."
SUMMARY, 'JESUS': Man laments the paucity of spiritual outlets in his hometown.
SAMPLE LYRIC: "Everybody just wants to get high, sit and watch a perfect world go by."
CONCLUSION: McGraw is remarkably tolerant and perceptive for red-state radio, while Watson seems content to crawl inside a bottle.
Los Lonely Boys have a new album out, but not the one you were expecting. Orale!, the Sony follow-up to 2004's platinum Los Lonely Boys, hits stores July 18, but Live at the Blue Cat Blues, recorded at the eponymous Deep Ellum nightspot in 2000, is available now through BlueCatBlues.net and the band's official site, LosLonelyBoys.org. "We're aware of it, so we're cool with it," says manager Kevin Wommack. "It's definitely an early recording." The Boys' latest recording, inaugural Orale! single "Diamonds," debuts May 8 on pretty much every radio station in town.
It didn't take Beauty Bar long to get into the live music game. Wednesday, the combination salon/watering hole on Seventh Street welcomes Austin's the Black and L.A. rockers Mellowdrone, who co-owner and ...Trail of Dead drummer Jason Reece describes as "melty guitars, like My Bloody Valentine." Reece plans about one show a month at the bar, with Canadian sexpot Peaches and laptop sound scientist Kid606 on tap soon. (Austin's Sliver and San Antonio's DJ Jester the Filipino Fist have Wednesday and Friday DJ residencies.) As far as his own band, Reece says they're days away from finishing the tracks for their next album. "Let's just say it's dark and heavy," he divulges. "The lyrical content is more personal than ever."
Apologies to Jason Butler and Dabney Dwelle of Quien es' Boom!, who put on a crackling stream-of-consciousness CD release at the Parish last Friday, for mangling their names in last week's column. Quien, along with the Black Angels, Experimental Aircraft, Okkervil River, Octopus Project, What Made Milwaukee Famous, and lots more locals, rock Fort Worth's Ridglea Theater at this weekend's Wall of Sound festival. TCB will have a full report next week.