Austin musicians make national headlines in the oddest ways. To wit, Red Hunter, who performs his haunting folk songs most often under the name Peter & the Wolf like at Emo's tonight (Thursday) with Rubble and Sunburned Hand of the Man recently found himself talking to ABC News, MTV.com, NPR, and several others. Seems he and some friends will be touring the East Coast via sailboat later this summer, an idea that sprang from friend Jana Hunter's frustration with playing the same venues every time through any given town. (Jana and Red are not related beyond being kindred musical spirits.) "She started joking about how we should go by sailboat and play on the docks, and since we have the same last name we'd call it the S.S. Hunter," says Hunter. "A couple of weeks later, she called me and said, 'I think I've found us a sailboat.'" Turns out her friend in New York, a college radio DJ, was also a sailing enthusiast; he volunteered his 30-foot boat to ferry the Hunters and their friends in San Diego's Castanets down the Intracoastal Waterway in August. Hunter has no previous sailing experience, but his dad was in the Navy, which he says has inspired the nautical bent of several recent songs. He also sees certain similarities in the lives of sailors and musicians. "There's an unsettling effect of having to keep getting back on the boat that's like the same as what compels you to keep traveling, and not have a stable life the way people do that don't live like a troubador," Hunter says. The media has tried to portray the boat tour as a reaction to skyrocketing fuel costs, but Hunter says their only motivations are to "have adventures and battle the elements." "When I did ABC, they kept trying to get a sound bite out of me that this was some kind of political statement," he adds. "The best I could give them was to make jokes about how chicks like it better than when you drive a Toyota or something."
It was a double-barreled dose of nostalgia at the Flamingo Cantina last weekend as he-man hard rockers SINIS returned, for the first time in nearly four years, with everything that made them awesome the first time around: monster riffs, lotsa leather, male and female dancers, the huge KISS-style sign, and, lest we forget, jets of flame. Original bassist Ron Strutter, looking suspiciously like Woody's South owner Woody Wiedeman, even made a walk-on cameo Friday night. Until they rock mightily again somewhere, 2000's Electromagnetized is hardly a bad consolation prize.
MASTERS OF SPARKS
First Austin's Summer Wardrobe wound up tacked onto New York label Rainbow Quartz's SXSW showcase, then president Jim McGarry liked the mellow-psych quartet so much he decided to sign them. "He just stood right in front of us the whole time we played with his arms crossed," says singer/guitarist Jon Sanchez. McGarry, whose label also houses the High Dials, the Morning After Girls, Volebeats, and Austin's (inactive) Cotton Mather, told the band he'd put out their record as soon as they could give him one. They hooked up with local producer Mark Addison, who also helmed Summer Wardrobe's 2004 debut, and headed into his Aerie Studios under a bit of a time crunch. "Me and George [drummer Duron] are going to Paraguay on the 29th, so it has to be done by then," says Sanchez. The album, titled Sometimes Late at Night, will actually be released through Rainbow Quartz imprint Turquoise Mountain, which Sanchez says contains McGarry's "cosmic American" discoveries. "Some of our stuff is not very country, but because of the steel guitar, it has that high lonesome thing," he explains. Summer Wardrobe plays Ego's next Thursday, May 18.
A Summer Place
Local artist Bryan Keplesky has printed plenty of posters under his roundobject alias see his work at the Side Bar so when the owners of the new Birds Barbershop approached him about doing a mural, he treated the 40-foot wall like "a giant gig poster." Finished last week, the mural is entirely screen-printed, the product of an estimated 130 different screens and more than two weeks of labor from Keplesky and his friends at Austin screenprinting outfit Sleepy Giant. Among its collage of hair-related images are Blondie's Deborah Harry and several playful riffs on classic barbershop themes: Afro picks tethered to parachutes, a police helicopter with scissors for blades, a punk rocker clad in an old-timey barber's smock. "Hopefully people will study it and see something different every time," says Keplesky. Birds, which also features a stage for occasional in-store performances, is scheduled to open next month at 2210 S. Lamar.
Last week local honky-tonk hero Kevin Fowler auctioned off a deluxe hunting trip to South Texas' Herradura Ranch with him and Boston Red Sox righthander Josh Beckett. For $6,000, the winning bid bought an opportunity to bag one whitetail deer, one hog, and one javelina, plus a Remington rifle and full suit of brush camouflage. The trip will also be filmed for a future episode of the syndicated Texas Trophy Hunters TV show.
Walking the Cow
Anthropos Arts, the Austin nonprofit that offers workshops and music lessons to economically challenged area students, has its seventh annual student/teacher concert 6pm May 21 at Stubb's. Anthropos' string students start things off with a quartet, also featuring members of the Austin Symphony; then the jazz kids and their mentors take over for a program of Charlie Parker, a Colombian cumbia, and selections from Paris label Buda Musique's Ethiopiques series. Atash, featuring Anthropos founder Dylan Jones and Calcuttan sitar master Indrajit Banerjee, closes out the evening with a pan-cultural groove. Tickets are $12; see www.anthropos.org.
Before departing for a mini-tour of Chicago and Washington, D.C., local author Josh Frank is having a party for his Pixies oral history Fool the World 8pm today (Thursday) at Club de Ville. Suave Austin rockers the Ron Titter Band will handle the inevitable requests for "Tame" and "Bone Machine," and Frank promises to have plenty of copies of Fool the World available. "The publishers haven't paid me very much, but they did send me 90 books," he laughs. "This is my chance to get rid of 'em."
Speeding Motorcycle, Houston theatre company Infernal Bridegroom Productions' opera based on the songs of Daniel Johnston, premieres at a special preview party May 24 and begins its regular run May 26. Directed by IBP founder Jason Nodler, performances are Fridays and Saturdays through June 24 at the Axiom, 2524 McKinney St., just east of downtown Houston. Call 713/522-8443 to make reservations. Johnston, meanwhile, hawks his new collection, Welcome to My World, with an in-store at Waterloo Records 5pm today (Thursday) and plays after the Alamo South's 7:30pm screening of The Devil & Daniel Johnston.
Are you guys having a killer time? You will at the free junior high prom 10pm Saturday at Beauty Bar, brought to you by the folks at KVRX and Car Stereo (Wars). They promise all your favorite early/mid-Nineties hits, giveaways, prom portraits by Soft Action, and even a Sega Genesis, so don't forget the corsage. More weekend fun: California prodigy Jon Crosby, aka VAST, brings his baroque industrial fantasias to Elysium Friday, and Alejandro Escovedo hauls his string quartet into Pink salon, 1204 S. Congress, 5pm Sunday for a special Mother's Day show with Grady (love you, mom). Call 447-2888 for tickets, and check out some supplemental video from New York Times critic Jon Pareles' recent Escovedo profile at NYTimes.com.