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Fool for Your Stockings

If you're like TCB, the idea of holiday shopping more than a few days in advance is as laughable as Will Ferrell in Elf. That said, whatever your winter observance of choice, you're basically out of time as of today (Thursday). Some local music-related gift ideas for all you fellow procrastinators ...
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DISC THE HALLS: Tired of "The Night Before Christmas"? Try the new reading of Dylan Thomas' 1952 poem "A Child's Christmas in Wales," performed by local jazz lights Suzi Stern (who also sings three original songs), Rich Harney, Alex Coke, and Chris Maresh. Rockers will enjoy turning up ex-Sixteen Deluxe crew Hit Space's excellent new EP, (Verb), or contemplating Zookeeper's pensive new EP. The soundtrack to Richard Linklater's Fast Food Nation, meanwhile, has something for everyone: songs from Spoon, Dr. Dog, and the Capitol Years, as well eerie soundtrack instrumentals courtesy of Friends of Dean Martinez.

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PRETTY PAPER: Readers might enjoy Tall Tales and Other Big Lies: Stories of Ray Wylie Hubbard, the Hill Country troubador's life wisdom as illustrated by Jose Luis Gonzalez and published by Austin singer-songwriter Troy Campbell's Collection Agency Films. And never forget what day it is for very long with a pair of locally published calendars: Still Naked is more local musical figures (Jeff Pinkus, Kacy Crowley, Ain't Misbehavin') artfully arranged in the buff, while Ricardo Acevedo's She Rocks 2007 edition features members of the Addictions, Quick & the Dead, Adrian & the Sickness, and more wearing clothes, albeit seductively so.

LIVE WITH ME: This is Austin, you know. Why not give passes to tonight's Parish Christmas Show, with members of Okkervil River, What Made Milwaukee Famous, Voxtrot, Zykos, Alpha Rev, and Loxsly interpreting their seasonal favorites? Or try Unlock Austin's Red River Pass, which for a measly $20 buys you as many shows as you can handle at Beerland, Emo's Lounge, and the Mohawk, plus drink specials at Club de Ville, all January long.

Bad Rackets
Bad Rackets (Photo By John Anderson)


A Winter's Tale

Guess what happens when a theatre company moves next door to a band rehearsal space. Nobody has a very merry Christmas, that's for sure. Back in August, the Rogue Performance theatre moved in next to Black Rose Rehearsal in the industrial area south of Penn Field. They soon learned it's hard to be neighborly when you share both a nonsoundproofed wall and similar operating hours. The obvious question is how they could be neighbors in the first place, but a call to Dimension Properties, both businesses' landlord, went unreturned at press time. Moreover, "When you come to look at a space, you always come during the day," notes Rogue owner James Cotton. Soon enough, Cotton learned that prime rehearsal time for most bands is at night, also the time Rogue scheduled its performances and workshops. He talked to Black Rose's owners, who he now thinks were just humoring him, and left notes asking bands, including the Bad Rackets, not to rehearse during Rogue performances. The owners and bands reluctantly obliged, until they in turn learned Rogue lacked some permits required for theatre operation, and an anonymous band called the fire marshal during a Rogue production. ("If the city wants to find something wrong, they will," says Cotton.) However, the Black Rose owners discovered a clause in their own lease prohibiting any activity – like excessive noise – that disturbed their neighbors. "I wish I had looked at that lease, goddammit," says co-owner Jason Westbrook. "But I also wouldn't have thought our landlord would put another after-hours business next door." Cotton has decided to move out, convincing Dimension to refund him a couple months' rent – "At this point, it's better than nothing" – while Westbrook says he and partner Monte Williams will try to head off any future disputes by acquiring the Rogue space for themselves.

See also "Rogue Performance Venue."

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Photo By John Anderson


Escaping East

As soon as their landlord puts on a new roof, Beerland owners Randall and Donya Stockton will open Rio Rita at 1308 E. Sixth. "We're waiting on permits and stuff, TABC and all that," says Donya. The Stocktons plan for the Rita to be a coffeehouse by day and beer-only lounge by night, open 24 hours if they can figure out how to staff it. "People are always looking for a place to go and hang out and talk after shows," Donya says. Talking is an important part of their plan, so the only music will come from the jukebox. "Live music isn't always your friend," Donya says. "You can say Beerland is your favorite club, but if you don't like the band that's playing, then it's not." The Stocktons had been considering diversifying for a while, explains Donya, and snapped up Rita when the building owner, a former employer of Randall's, told them it was available in late September. As far as renovations, a new color scheme was about it. "For the past couple of years, it's been Club Sirenitos, which means 'little mermaid,'" Donya says. "When we walked in, the walls and ceiling were bright neon blue, and the floor was pink Armstrong tile." The Rita is only a couple of blocks from Red's Scoot Inn, leading some to dub the area a new Red River, especially since the current one is about to undergo significant change. "As soon as they build those condos down by Reddy Ice [Ninth & Red River], we're going to go the same way the Warehouse District went," Donya says. "All of Red River is going to have to find a new place to live."


Bullet the Blue Sky

Believe it or not, Grand Champeen have finished Dial "T" for This, their first album since 2003's The One That Brought You, and will release it March 6 on Portland, Ore., label In Music We Trust. Careful calendar observers will note this day is also the recently announced release date for another long-delayed, much-anticipated album called Chinese Democracy. Preparing to fight fire with fire, Champeen have been working up versions of "Paradise City" and "November Rain" to join their cover of G'N'R's "It's So Easy."

Skateboarding maybe, but the Riverboat Gamblers aren't exactly synonymous with big-time college football. Not until our eagle-eared Music Editor Raoul Hernandez noticed "On Again Off Again," from this year's To the Confusion of Our Enemies, soundtracking some CBS smashmouth highlights a few weeks back. And, it turns out, not entirely legally. "We heard it, too," says Gamblers manager Bryan McClellan. "It was used without permission, and the band's lawyer is getting it figured out right now."

One local TV/music tie-in that is legit: Round Rock computer behemoth Dell using the 13th Floor Elevators' "You're Gonna Miss Me" to hawk their latest line of Dimension desktops. Ad agency BBDO wanted a song similar to the music used on The Sopranos, and when they heard "Miss Me," "it sounded real, with a rawness that felt immediate," relays Dell attorney Dean Blackwood. Once they discovered the Elevators' local connection, he adds, "Everybody became even more enchanted by the tune."

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