The ongoing liquor-fueled legend of the Hickoids, Neil Diamond's people make the Diamond Smugglers' life hell, and Pete Townshend will be at SXSW anyway, anyhow, anywhere
Hail to the ChicksThey strode onto the Erwin Center stage to the strains of "Hail to the Chief" last Monday, but these days the Dixie Chicks would rather poke fun at Britney Spears than George W. Bush. "This one's for K-Fed," quipped lead singer Natalie Maines before the trio and their ninepiece band, anchored by Austinite David Grissom, launched into bluegrass burner "White Trash Wedding." Otherwise, the Chicks' two-hour set of robust roadhouse rock ("Lubbock or Leave It," "Goodbye Earl") and emotional pop ("Not Ready to Make Nice," "Landslide") revealed a tougher, rawer band than the pie-eyed days of "Cowboy Take Me Away," which they played nonetheless. Indeed, from their first two multiplatinum albums, only "Wide Open Spaces" made the cut at the Chicks' Austin City Limits taping two days later. Drawing instead from 2002's Home and this year's Taking the Long Way, the Chicks inhabited the grownup sentiments of Long Way's "Silent House," Patty Griffin's "Top of the World," and heartwrenching encore "Travelin' Soldier," performed by just the trio with resilience and grace. Congratulations, by the way, to Natalie's dad, Lloyd Maines, who extended his ACL appearance record into the high teens (the exact number escapes even him), and the Chicks themselves: Thursday, Long Way was nominated for several Grammys, including Best Country Album (ha!), Album of the Year, and Record of the Year.
Diamond DisputeBeing asked to perform two songs on a network TV series, especially one created by a longtime friend, is normally a good thing. Unfortunately, in the run-up to the Diamond Smugglers' appearance on the Nov. 28 episode of Veronica Mars, the local Neil Diamond cover band found nothing but grief. First, they had to record their versions of "Sweet Caroline" and "Thank the Lord for the Night Time" on a moment's notice, clear the somewhat ribald lyrics with standards and practices, and then re-record the songs 24 hours later. Seems that after browsing the Smugglers' Web site, some of Diamond's people who had previously approved the songs' use informed the band that they took "great offense" at the Smugglers' "tone and execution" and demanded they alter their performance to lessen the resemblance to Diamond. Even their wardrobe. Singer Steve McCarthy "couldn't wear anything too shiny, couldn't do his hair up," says bassist Hunter Darby. "I was like, 'This is bullshit.'" The band considered dropping out but decided to go ahead, mostly as a favor to old friend and Veronica creator Rob Thomas, who has also used songs from the Wannabes, the Fighting Brothers McCarthy, and Paul Minor on the show. "The last thing you want to hear on Thursday is your band's going to punk out and you have to find a bar band in San Diego," says Darby, who, along with keyboardist John Ratliff and percussionist David Mider, elected to stay home. "No one was calling anyone a scab for going," he explains, admitting there was some "stony silence" on the plane among those who went. The Smugglers have since smoothed everything over, and although Darby doubts Diamond had anything to do with the situation personally, "We all think he's an asshole."
Hardware StoreOverall, 36 Texans received 53 Grammy nominations Thursday. Here's a few; see Grammy.com for the full list. Winners will be announced Feb. 11 at Los Angeles' Staples Center.
FEMALE R&B VOCAL: Beyoncé, "Ring the Alarm"
R&B ALBUM: Jaime Foxx, Unpredictable
CONTEMPORARY R&B ALBUM: Beyoncé, B'Day
RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION: Beyoncé/Jay-Z, "Déjà Vu"; Jaime Foxx/Ludacris, "Unpredictable"
RAP SONG: Chamillionaire, "Ridin'"
COUNTRY ALBUM: Willie Nelson, You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker
FEMALE COUNTRY VOCAL: Miranda Lambert, "Kerosene"; LeAnn Rimes, "Something's Gotta Give"
MALE COUNTRY VOCAL: George Strait, "The Seashores of Old Mexico"
COUNTRY COLLABORATION WITH VOCALS: Kenny Rogers & Don Henley, "Calling Me"
JAZZ INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM: Ornette Coleman, Sound Grammar
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Ornette Coleman
GOSPEL PERFORMANCE: Yolanda Adams, "Victory"; Israel & New Breed, "Not Forgotten"; Chris Tomlin, "Made to Worship"; Tye Tribbett & G.A., "Victory"
TEJANO ALBUM: Chente Barrera, Sigue el Taconazo; Jimmy Edward, It's ... All Right; Bob Gallarza, Live in Session; Jay Perez, All of Me; Rebecca Valadez, Rebecca Valadez
CONTEMPORARY FOLK/AMERICANA ALBUM: Guy Clark, Workbench Songs
COMEDY ALBUM: Ron White, You Can't Fix Stupid