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Off the Record

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By Austin Powell, October 26, 2007, Music

Lance Hahn, 1967-2007

Prolific punk guitarist Lance Hahn, of J Church fame, died last Sunday due to complications arising from kidney disease. Hahn, 40, formed Hawaiian punk outfit Cringer in 1984, which, upon relocation to the Bay Area in the early Nineties, evolved into J Church. In 2000, Hahn re-envisioned the melodic punk band in Austin with drummer Chris Pfeffer and bassist Ben White, releasing three albums and a handful of 7-inches. Along with contributing to the magazine Maximum Rock n Roll and publishing notable DIY zine Some Hope and Some Despair, Hahn was also the owner and operator of local imprint Honey Bear, which released Hahn's solo recordings as Cilantro. Vulcan Video on South Congress, which Hahn managed, continues to collect donations, which will offset medical bills along with proceeds from the benefit album, Let's Do It for Lance!, available from No Idea Records. Details regarding the funeral arrangements will be posted at "He was the most optimistic person I ever met," recalls Pfeffer. "His personality showed through everything he did, and always will."

The Witching Hour

Nothing brings out the ghosts quite like the Austin Record Convention, the music junkie's equivalent to trick-or-treating. The biannual event takes place this weekend at Crockett Event Center (10601 N. Lamar). That the festivities were canceled this spring for renovations only sweetens the deal this time around. Early birds can shop on Friday beginning at 10am for $25.

501 Sound Stage Theater (501 N. I-35) takes a stab at live music with a two-naight Halloween bash. Friday features the Strange Boys, Cry Blood Apache, Love tribute Forever Changes, and the Carz, atop hand-picked horror films, while Saturday boasts the Golden Boys, the Black, Pepperonis, and the Shitty Beach Boys, with Danzigeoke in between sets.

Industrial hedonists Hipnautica and fellow trance inducers Lucid Dementia headline the Sluggo! Ball Friday at Emo's, a benefit for founder and editor of short-lived zine Sluggo!, Nick West, who's currently receiving treatment for advanced prostate cancer in Germany. Authentic issues of the rag are up for grabs for the most outlandish, demented, anachronistic costumes.

Oct. 31 is like any other costumed night for the Jolly Garogers, but the local maiden voyagers are marking the occasion with the launch of Pirates for the Preservation of New Orleans Music, a new nonprofit organization, in partnership with SXSW and the New Orleans Jazz Fest, Wednesday at Opal Divine's Marina.

Food For Thought

Along with being the swankiest new place to wine and dine, Lamberts Downtown Barbecue, located in the historic Schneider Brothers Building on Second Street, is also home to some of the best free residencies in town. Slim Richey's Jitterbug Vipers lay down speakeasy grooves every Tuesday, followed by Erik Hokkanen's Gypsy Tribe and Glovertango, featuring the Tosca Strings Quartet, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, respectively, while Kat Edmonson, the Marshall Ford Swing Band, and local jazz giants Ephraim Owens and Brannen Temple (pictured), round out the weekend. "We got lucky with how all the pieces came together," says partner and booker Will Bridges. "We've got a few of Austin's musical mad scientists in here every week." After dinner, the 150-capacity restaurant and venue, which opened last December and resembles a more intimate Parish, really turns up the heat, hosting artists like Meagan Tubb tonight (Thursday), former Weary Boy Mario Matteoli on Friday, and Chili Cold Blood on Saturday.

Sunset Notes

"There are no boundaries," said Boris drummer Atsuo prior to South by Southwest 07, via e-mail and a translator. "Everything is connected." Friday night at Mohawk, Japanese guitar god Michio Kurihara of White Heaven, Ghost, and the Stars, bridged the divide between the melancholy of openers Damon & Naomi and Boris' transoceanic avant-metal. Louder than life and heavier than hell, the latter emerged from a cloud of smoke for a trio of Boris/Kurihara pairings from Rainbow, acid-electric freak-outs that gently bled into Akuma no Uta's "Furi." The harmonized pendulum of "Time to Go" sounded surreal, while Kurihara carved through the fields of distortion that drowned out "Just Abandoned My-Self" and closer "Farewell."

Afterward, Kurihara sat upstairs in the greenroom struggling to overcome language barriers with his inquisitors, even with the aid of stand-in translators, Damon Krukowski the Chronicle's Bobby Leath. At that point, a true appreciation for the night settled in, the way in which the Japanese luminaries so vividly and passionately communicated with the audience through the music. Kurihara, in response to a query about his impressionistic and instrumental solo debut, Sunset Notes, said it best in fragmented English: "Nature. Each season a different mood. Each song a mixture of science and feeling. Each listener their own vision ... interpretation ... experience."

So Divided

To the surprise of no one, Trail of Dead parted ways recently with Interscope Records. The local art rock outfit's aptly titled fifth album, last year's So Divided, proved a musical stasis, torn between the group's grandiose ambitions and disillusioned angst. "I think we felt victimized by how other acts took priority over us, like Gwen Stefani and the Pussycat Dolls," confesses leader Conrad Keeley. "That's where all of the label's attention was focused. ... They really didn't know how to market us. I think they thought that we were like the new fucking Queens of the Stone Age or something." Trail of Dead is currently working on new material that will be recorded in February with renowned local producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Sound Team). "With the last record we were very pessimistic," Keeley confides. "I think that had a lot to do with how I felt about the previous record not doing as well as I had hoped. The new writing is a lot more optimistic now that we're free of any sort of obligation that we had to the label." Trail of Dead hits Emo's on Saturday with Black Joe Lewis & the Honey Bears and Migas.

Random Play

• A memorial service celebrating the life of late bluesman Gary Primich is being held on Sunday at Saengerrunde Hall (1607 San Jacinto). The acclaimed harmonica player, 49, died of "acute heroin intoxication" on Sept. 23, according to toxicology tests conducted by the Travis County Office of the Medical Examiner. Donations, in lieu of flowers, can be made to the SIMS Foundation, the Oak Hill House, and the Animal Trustees of Austin.

Texas Music Museum (1009 E. 11th) presents "The Many Faces of Texas Blues," a new exhibit dedicated to the memory of Clifford Antone and consisting of historic posters, photographs, and biographies, through December.

Dickie Moist has relocated his Ween side project, Moistboyz, to the bat city. The casually offensive frat-rap outfit debuts Friday at Red Eyed Fly with a new lineup that includes Honky's Jeff Pinkus.

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