Off the Record
Snake Eyes Vinyl, East Austin's little shop of hardcore, will close its doors Aug. 19. The essential DIY punk and metal outlet, which opened at 1211 E. Seventh in 2004, is looking to relocate on Burnet Road, South First, or somewhere in between. "I need more support from the surrounding businesses," says owner Rebecca Hubinsky, who will continue to fill orders through the store's website (www.snakeeyesvinyl.com) and possibly host shows around town during its transitional period. Snake Eyes Vinyl hosts the last of its renowned in-store performances Thursday, Aug. 30, with Bloody Phoenix, Pretty Little Flower, 50/50, Here Comes Trouble, and Saixxiabis. On the other side of town, Woody's South, the nondescript South Austin venue and restaurant run by Woody Wiedeman, formerly of Room 710, has shut down permanently. "Mondays were a good time for us there," says Jeff Pinkus of his band's infamous Honky Hour residency at the club. "I guess we'll let Dale Watson keep Mondays at the Continental Club. That up-and-comer could use the practice."
Belaire's colorful debut LP, Exploding, Impacting, has undeniable universal appeal. The quartet, led by the twee-pop of twin sisters Christa and Cari Palazzolo (pictured), is close to closing a deal with Quince Records for a Japan-only release coupled with a few additional tunes. Single "You Really Got Me Goin'," meanwhile, will be featured on French compilation Tape That, due in the UK this fall on Third Side Records, which has also expressed interest in releasing the full album. "The international interest is something I was anticipating, but I really think it's going to be big for the band," says Dániel Perlaky of Indierect, the band's label. "They could be one of those artists that will be more popular elsewhere than in the U.S." Tacks, the Boy Disaster is also shipping overseas. The indie lads signed to Ark Recordings in the UK and will re-release their stunning EP, Oh, Beatrice, remixed and remastered by Erik Wofford, in October.
Preserving and celebrating diverse musical and cultural traditions, Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the release of the second and third volumes in its storied Songbook collection on Bloodshot Records. The 2-CD, 42-song set includes James Hand's version of "Corrina Corrina," the Western swing standard attributed to Boston's Mississippi Sheiks and popularized by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys in 1940. The Smithsonian Folkways Recordings commemorates the Playboys, along with Memphis Slim, John Sebastian, the New Lost City Ramblers, and more, on Down Home Saturday Night, a compilation chronicling the evolution of the house party through various forms of regional roots music typically performed at social gatherings.
After fronting Hot Club of Cowtown with Whit Smith and backing both Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan, violinist Elana James is finally flying solo -- nationally. The soulful songstress' eponymous debut, where she trades a few fiddle lines with Texas Playboy Johnny Gimble, has been picked up by North Carolina's Redeye Distribution. James will hit the Great Lakes Folk Festival in Michigan this weekend alongside Grupo Fantasma before returning home to the Continental Club for a series of happy-hour performances to close out the month.
Tish Hinojosa is adding another language to her catalog. The Tex-Mex singer-songwriter recently moved to Hamburg, Germany, with her new husband, whom she met during her European tour in 2004.
Like a Virgin
Transforming the Pimlico racetrack into an eco-friendly live-music venue, the second annual Virgin Festival attracted more than 70,000 people to Baltimore this past weekend. The two-day event was scant for originality and shade from the heat and rain but was loaded with big names, most shared with Lollapalooza in Chicago, and one of the best sound systems in recent memory. Tattooed and troubled UK siren Amy Winehouse actually showed up Saturday, but her lethargic performance paled in comparison to Regina Spektor's charming and comical solo set, highlighted by a gorgeous cover of John Lennon's "Real Love." Fellow Austin City Limits 2007 act, Sweden's Peter Bjorn & John bombed, while the Beastie Boys nearly stole the show, mashing up funky instrumentals ("Electric Worm," "Off the Grid") from their latest, The Mix-Up, with live staples ("Sabotage" and "Remote Control"), despite the Ill Communication during "Heart Attack Man." "We fucked that one up," Mike D laughed. "It's on the third or fourth record. Go home, and listen to it. It's a good one." Headliners the Police, on the other hand, never missed a beat, tearing through "Message in a Bottle" and "Roxanne" with razor-sharp precision and revamping classics "Wrapped Around Your Finger" and "When the World Is Running Down."
Sunday's exhilarating dance party was an all-day affair, beginning with Dan Deacon's Where's Waldo? electronic routine, followed immediately by Girl Talk's bastardized party blends, which paused only when Gregg Gillis fell on his laptop, and concluding with the Crystal Method and M.I.A. Spoon's visceral indie pop overlapped with Explosions in the Sky's ethereal, 50-minute suite, climaxing with "Catastrophe and the Cure." Bad Brains were more dub than hardcore, while Yeah Yeah Yeahs' sprawling art-punk anthems, led by Karen O's sparkling and relentless masquerade, proved a beautiful mess. Wu-Tang Clan still ain't nothing to fuck with, and closers, the Smashing Pumpkins, struck with a vengeance from the revolutionary march of "United States" to Billy Corgan's rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Unlike this past weekend's free Ozzfest at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater or Ice Cream Man's chocolate-coated philanthropy (see "What's So Funny About Peace, Love, and Ice Cream?" Sept. 15, 2006), the Virgin Festival's corporate sponsorship did little to bolster the event's appeal or lower the ticket and food prices. "Festivals need to have the personality of the location," DFA labelhead James Murphy, whose LCD Soundsystem brought its Sound of Silver to both Lollapalooza and the Virgin Festival, pointed out backstage. Considering Saturday's 100-degrees-plus temperature and the lack of local emphasis, the Virgin Festival might as well have taken place at Retama Park in Selma. Destination festivals need to offer something unique, exclusive, or both. It's a formula that the Austin City Limits Music Festival has mastered in recent years, while Transmission Entertainment's Fun Fun Fun Fest -- which is expanding to two days, Nov. 3-4 at Waterloo Park, and five stages, including the dance tent -- will feature a one-time-only reunion of Murder City Devils, along with Neurosis, Against Me!, Youth Brigade, Sick of It All, Madball, Riverboat Gamblers, Complete Control, the Delgado's Emma Pollock, Final Fantasy, White Denim, and Zykos, as well as all previously announced acts (see "Off the Record," July 6).
The fact is that there are more music festivals in the U.S. than ever before. Ghostland Observatory will play three different events during ACL weekend, Sept. 14-16, alone, along with the Wall of Sound Festival the following Saturday in Fort Worth. C3 Presents, like California's Goldenvoice Concerts, which books Coachella and the Stagecoach festivals during consecutive weekends in May, is branching out into the country circuit this year with the inaugural Big State Festival in College Station, Oct. 13-14, featuring Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and 50 others. One thing's certain: When it comes to music festivals, the best destinations are already in our back yard.