After courting fire-breathing local quartet Lions for nearly a year, Roadrunner Records suddenly didn't hear a single. But instead of wondering when the home of such ear-blistering bands as Cradle of Filth, Hatebreed, and Soulfly went pop, frontman and guitarist Matt Drenik sees a bullet dodged. "Our A&R guy over there was the guy who signed Nickelback, so I don't know exactly what they were looking for," he says. Now close to a deal with NYC label Rock Ridge (like Roadrunner, a Warner Music Group subsidiary), Lions have lately been retooling the follow-up to 2005's Volume One in the Bubble. "It's a little more ambitious," says Drenik. "But still real heavy." Some of the new material will come out on an EP this fall, he adds, with a full LP to follow next spring. Guitar Hero addicts, however, will be rocking out to "Metal Heavy Lady" even sooner. Lions landed the Volume One track on the shred-worthy video game's third installment (also due this fall) when an Activision executive thought the band berating the Bourbon Rocks staff to let more people into their South by Southwest show was, relays Drenik, "the fucking coolest thing I've seen all Festival." Even better, since the song wasn't part of the Roadrunner deal, it was good to go. "I gave him the Roadrunner demos thinking he's going to take one," chuckles Drenik, "and of course they chose the shit we recorded above Trophy's." Lions play Emo's inside Friday with Portland pals Red Fang.
The Mouths that Roared
The Texas Music Museum has an image problem. After 20 years, hardly anybody knows the ever-expanding archive currently housed at 1009 E. 11th even exists. "We wish people would help us out financially, so we can hire a staff," muses TMM board member and UT School of Social Work professor Clay Shorkey, flipping through the museum's collection of illustrated Texas-themed sheet music ("Amarillo by Morning," Lee Hazlewood's Dean Martin hit "Houston," "In Old Galveston"). "We've focused on building the collection first," continues Shorkey, gesturing to the boxed-up exhibits in the museum's storage room. "We hope to eventually find some donors to help us out with a building." For now, he laughs, "we need storage." The museum is bursting at the seams with everything from an audio/visual library of more than 150 oral histories to an original Thomas Edison phonograph bought by the owner of a Dallas bicycle shop around 1902. Through May 31, its focus is Texas jazz. Dozens of photos and profiles line the walls internationally revered Ornette Coleman, Dewey Redman, Charlie Christian, Arnett Cobb, and Austin heavyweights Kenny Dorham, Martin Banks, James Polk, and Alvin Patterson among scattered artifacts like an original copy of the first sheet music to sell more than a million copies, Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag," and a 1960 Jet magazine with Austin-born chanteuse Damita Jo on the cover. Shorkey shudders to think what TMM might be able to do with some real money but says at the moment its dozen-strong volunteer corps is better at fact-checking than fundraising. "Most of our money now comes from our own board," he says. The museum is open 9am-5pm weekdays, with guided tours available at 472-8891.
Which sounds more appealing: running several miles in the summer Texas sun or spending a Saturday evening at Auditorium Shores watching a free concert curated by Stephen Bruton, featuring his friends Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt, Joe Ely, Delbert McClinton, and dozens more? Freescale Semiconductor CEO Michel Mayer is betting on the latter, dubbed the Road to Austin. According to Gary Fortin of promoters the Formax Group, Mayer and Bruton struck up an unlikely friendship after Bruton helped arrange entertainment for last year's World Congress of Information Technology in Austin and thought Freescale underwriting such a concert might be a better expression of corporate goodwill than yet another marathon. Fortin won't disclose the budget for Saturday's show but allows it's not six figures and not eight. "If we sold tickets to this thing, they'd cost more than the Rolling Stones," he says. Indeed, free tickets can be downloaded at www.roadtoaustinconcert.com, but as several thousand more than the Shores capacity of 20,000 had already been downloaded last week, calling the event first-come/first-serve might be an understatement. (Gates open at 5:30pm.) A bigger concern might be Bruton's health. Fortin swears that barely two weeks after finishing treatment for throat cancer, the singer-songwriter and guitarist is "banged up but ready." Bruton's Resentments bandmate Scrappy Jud Newcomb will be ready to take over if need be, but Fortin isn't worried. If Bruton isn't up to playing, he says, "his friends wouldn't let him onstage."
The Road Goes on Forever
Rock for a reason this weekend: Part of the take from flashpot fanatics Sinis' once-a-year reunion shows Friday and Saturday at the Flamingo Cantina go to the Handsome Joel Foundation, while Pong, Invincible Czars, and Cat Scientist highlight Saturday's benefit for battered composer Peter Stopschinski at the Scoot Inn. On the way, stop by Rio Rita to bid on artwork by members of Poison 13, the Ends, Manikin, Hex Dispensers, and more; proceeds from the silent auction (through May 31) go to ailing Crack Pipes guitarist Billy Steve Korpi.
Bullet the Blue Sky
Last month Pushmonkey took first prize, $10,000, in the rock division of FameCast, an online competition originating from Austin's Action Figure studios (A&E's Rollergirls, KLRU's Downtown). Last heard from on 2005's Year of the Monkey (and hitting Hanover's June 16), the long-running local hard rockers aren't sure how to spend their windfall yet. "One idea we've had is to spend the money reprinting some of our sold-out back catalog," says singer Tony Park. "We still get lots of requests for our older records but don't have the financial backing right now to reproduce." FameCast is now accepting rock, pop, country, R&B, and hip-hop submissions for its second season at FameCast.com.
What hath Yacht Rock wrought? On Time Life Records' late-night infomercial, 11 CDs and 168 examples of soft rock's very best for only $150. Or there's the Alamo Drafthouse version: Friday's 7pm Lake Austin pleasure cruise, with the silky stylings of local "Sailing" enthusiasts Captain Smoothe. Yacht Rock creator J.D. Ryznar and his bros (including Hollywood Steve!) will be on hand to screen the entire series and defend Michael McDonald's embattled honor. See www.originalalamo.com for more.