Music news

Spot (Photo By John Anderson)

Space Cowboy

"Does the Chronicle want to buy any shelves?" asks Spot, a seven-year employee of Waterloo Records before leaving last year. He gestures toward the floor-to-ceiling metal units left over from Trailer Space's previous incarnation as a brick law-firm storage warehouse near Turntable Records and Bearded Lady studios. With more than 1,000 square feet to work with, he hopes to have the space converted into a combination record store and rec room by Jan. 1, selling used CDs and vinyl up front while making the back area into an oversized den complete with pool tables, video games, listening stations, kegerators, and a stage. "Record stores aren't fun anymore," insists Spot. "That's my whole goal, bringing back a sense of history and lore. We don't have any lore anymore." Spot gives "all props" to his former employer but plans to become an alternative in-store outlet for all the acts who can't afford the money required to book Waterloo. It's part of his grand scheme to challenge what he calls Austin music's "Granola Mafia" and restore the cozy customer/store relationship he believes has been damaged by the Internet and big-box retail. "Remember when a song could change your life?" he asks. "It defined who you are and shaped what you were like in the future. I want to bring that back."

Spin Control

Once thought a sure Internet casualty, indie record stores have sprouted up all over town.

WATERLOO RECORDS. Always the big dog. 600-A N. Lamar.

SOUND ON SOUND. Sound Exchange's spiritual heir. 106 E. North Loop.

SNAKE EYES VINYL. The Eastside's house of wax. 1211 E. Seventh.

BACKSPIN RECORDS. Burnet Road's new groove. 5427 Burnet Rd.

IMMORTAL PERFORMANCES. Classical lover's delight. 1404 W. 30th.

ANTONE'S RECORDS. The music Clifford loved. 2928 Guadalupe.

END OF AN EAR. All things indie and experimental. 2209 S. First.

MUSICMANIA. Still holdin' it down. 3909 N. I-35 Ste. D-1.

Photo By Felicia Graham

It Still Moves

If any band can make one song feel like an entire show, it's My Morning Jacket. The shaggy Louisville quintet opened their sold-out Stubb's show Saturday with a stomping, chugging "One Big Holiday," from 2003's It Still Moves, then thanked the audience and walked offstage. They came back, of course, for nearly 90 more minutes of unabashed Southern hair-farming, lump-raising tenderness ("Phone Went West," "Golden"), grindingly slow blues, and expert lighting: yellow and green for the perky reggae interludes; pink, purple, and aqua for the extended underwater jams, of which there were plenty. "Let's go to the left side," said someone behind TCB, not long into the show. "You can only hear one guitar over here."

A Healthy Sum

The Health Alliance for Austin Musicians reported last week that its inaugural HAAM Benefit Day, wherein 105 Austin-area businesses donated a percentage of their Oct. 3 sales to the local musicians' health care nonprofit, raised a cool $50,000. "I think a lot of businesses you don't normally associate with music saw it was good business to support musicians," says HAAM board of directors Chairman Robin Shivers. Another $50,000 will be matched by a pair of matching grants from Austin's Topfer Family Foundation and Galveston's the Moody Foundation. "It was wonderful for us to go out and create income for ourselves, but knowing it would be matched by these two grants we had been working on all year" made all the difference, says Shivers. Presenting sponsor Whole Foods alone donated more than $14,000. "I think the collaborative nature is very appealing," says Shivers. "You have two major hospitals [Seton and St. David's] who have come together for musicians, along with our grassroots partner the SIMS Foundation, to try to provide a continuum of care. I think we've been able to show through HAAM that this is a business." The 19-month-old HAAM currently has about 650 members, and Shivers says the number under age 40 – more than half – is encouraging: "It gives you a lot of hope that our organization will be able to help keep people well and address some of these problems before they get to the emergency room."

Mash Notes

Since 2003, music blog Information Leafblower has polled its pasty peers to compile an annual list of "The Top 40 Bands in America." This year, the top three (TV on the Radio, Hold Steady, Decemberists) and Austin representatives (Okkervil River, Voxtrot, Shearwater) are fairly predictable, but the real surprise is local DJ tandem and newly christened mash-up masters Car Stereo (Wars) at No. 35. CSW, with an assist from Denton-based blog Gorilla vs. Bear, took the blogosphere by storm earlier this summer with "Ghostface Observatory," its marriage of Wu-Tang alum Ghostface Killah's "Be Easy" with local dance-rock duo Ghostland Observatory's "Midnight Voyage." Besides being the best-named mash-up since Nirvana/Destiny's Child fusion "Smells Like Booty," "Ghostface" is simply "the best mash-up I've ever heard," gushes Leafblower. "It breathes new life into a genre that was steadily growing stale." Naturally, it took CSW's Christopher Rose all of about 20 minutes to assemble this masterpiece after a friend hit on the title. "It's weird, all the rest of them take a lot longer," he says. Normally, creating a mash-up takes three to four hours, says Rose, due to his "Girl Talk" approach of splicing several different samples onto one basic track (see "Hip Hop Halloween Mash" on He and CSW partner Adreon Henry are now investigating ways to take mash-ups live, using unlikely foundations like old country, Sixties pop, and blues. "We haven't really tried it yet, but he's been messing around on this electronic drum kit," says Rose. "It should be fun."

Party Up

PlayStation will be the only playing most local bands (and TCB) do Thanksgiving Day, but not Grupo Fantasma. The Latino dance combo will board a plane to Las Vegas for a special holiday show at Prince's brand-new 3121 club in the Rio Hotel & Casino. "Our manager is actually old buddies with somebody who works for Prince," says Grupo guitarist Adrian Quesada. Apparently His Purple Majesty personally approves all 3121 bookings. "We were expecting some kind of feedback, but he was just like, 'Book 'em,'" says Quesada. "Very Prince." He doesn't know if Grupo will have a Very Special Guest in its audience, but Quesada notes the diminutive genius does have a favorable schedule. "We don't want to set ourselves up for disappointment, but he hosts a jam session there the night before and plays there on Friday," he says. "We might be eating purple turkey for Thanksgiving." After several months of steady touring, Grupo's next Austin show isn't until Dec. 29 at Antone's, but they do play next Friday at Lucy's on the Square in San Marcos and plan to release a new album next year.

Luckenbach Litigation

An interesting and already messy legal battle is taking shape over some of the best-loved songs in Texas music. The trouble started back in January, when artists including the Derailers, Gary P. Nunn, Two Tons of Steel, and Cory Morrow gathered in Luckenbach to revisit Seventies staples like "London Homesick Blues," "Redneck Mother," and "Desperados Waiting for the Train." The results were to be released on Palo Duro Records' Viva! Terlingua! Nuevo! last month, but on Nov. 1, Jerry Jeff Walker filed suit against the Tennessee-based label, claiming copyright infringement on the five Walker-written Nuevo! cuts ("Gettin' By," "Sangria Wine," etc.), misappropriation of identity, and false advertising. Palo Duro suspended distribution of the album but fired back last week with a letter from founder Chris Thomas claiming the songs are fair game under federal copyright law's Compulsory License provision, vowing the label would "aggressively defend itself." Stay tuned.

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