Off the Record
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)
By VH1's standards, Austin music is having the Best Week Ever. Last Thursday, City Council unanimously passed a resolution to create a Live Music Task Force that will analyze acoustic issues and the economic dynamics of the local scene over the next six to nine months. That means that any worry over amendments to the current sound ordinance can be soothed, at least for the time being. Mayor Will Wynn also proclaimed 2008 to be the Year of Austin Music, an extension of the annual Love Austin Music Month. "The movement is taking shape," Troy Dillinger responded on behalf of the grassroots local organization (www.theyearofaustinmusic.org), whose next step involves organizing different panels like venue owner/operators to discuss specific problems and solutions before reconvening at a second town hall meeting on March 5. "The most important thing is that we've managed to keep things positive; there are no villains or enemies here," Dillinger says. "Positive energy is going to get a lot more done than pointing fingers."
• Few artists have encompassed Austin's rich musical landscape like Doug Sahm. On Monday, Shawn Sahm and the Chronicle's Margaret Moser are lobbying for the Parks and Recreation Board to name a section of the park located between Lady Bird Lake and South First Street after him. Join them Monday, 5:30pm, at 200 S. Lamar.
• Rolling Stone breaks down White Denim's formula for funk as follows in its Feb. 7 issue: White Stripes times Hendrix's psychedelia plus basement party.
• So much for "Sippin' on Some Syrup." The death of Houston's Pimp C (Chad Butler) on Dec. 4 has been attributed to a combination of sleep apnea and prescription cough medicine, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner. The UGK Family Tribute to Pimp C at SXSW is slated for Wednesday night at Club Fuze with Bun B, MDDL FNGZ, Vicious, Hezeleo & Big Bubb, and XVII.
• "It's parents trying to live through their kids," opined Gibby Haynes of the influx of teenage rock bands in September. It's ironic, then, that Haynes is completing a six-gig tour with the Paul Green School of Rock All-Stars, beginning Tuesday in Washington, D.C. The Austin branch, meanwhile, is soliciting bands for its second annual Battle of the Kids Bands, Sunday, March 2, at Antone's, with proceeds benefiting American Youthworks in honor of the late Clifford Antone. The deadline for submission is Feb. 18, two days after the institution's Best of Season show at Stubb's, featuring the music of Black Sabbath, the Who, and all of the Guitar Gods in between. www.schoolofrock.com.
• Listen for Quien Es, Boom!'s "Brittle Bitches" in Steep, a new documentary on big mountain skiing opening Friday, Feb. 22, at Arbor Cinema @ Great Hills. The local sextet is sitting on its full-length follow-up in hopes of attracting label attention.
Let the blogging begin. South by Southwest released its full band list today, Thursday, nearly two weeks ahead of schedule. The Black Crowes are out, but R.E.M., Dolly Parton, Thurston Moore, and Jim James (solo and with My Morning Jacket) are in, along with new additions the Vines and Ice Cube. Don't get too excited about High on Fire listed alongside Sleep. The latter refers to a Portland-based hip-hop group, not Matt Pike's seminal doom-metal outfit. Likewise, Kevin Shields isn't My Bloody Valentine, but rather the alias of noise specialist Eva Aguila. There's no shortage of metal, though, thanks to Genghis Tron, Norway's Shining, and J Mascis' Witch. Or mettle for that matter, with Mick Jones' Carbon/Silicon, L7's Donita Sparks, and a Naked Raygun reunion. From 71-year-old San Antonio tenor saxophonist Vernon "Spot" Barnett and New York-based Wu-Tang collaborator and trumpeter Christian Scott to new-world visionaries (Santogold, Sia, Robyn) and indie buzz bands (Vampire Weekend, Sea Wolf, Lightspeed Champion, and Dead Oceans' most recent signee, Bowerbirds), the near 1,600-act list has a little something for everyone. Local representatives account for just about every hue in the color wheel (White Ghost Shivers, Yellow Fever, Brownout, Pink Nasty), but none more so than black (the Black, the Black & White Years, the Black Angels, Black Earth, Blackholicus, Black Joe Lewis & the Honey Bears). Nearly one-third of the roster – to be spread across a record-high 79 stages – are imports, led by an unsurprisingly strong Canadian contention (Black Mountain, Destroyer, the Weakerthans) and a surge of Latin American artists. "It's been a very conscious effort to expand our global market," says SXSW Music Creative Director Brent Grulke. "Whenever you're able to get people together across borders, it's a positive thing for business and art. And obviously Austinites tend to be musically adventurous."
Is There a Ghost?
Few bands celebrate life through the prism of death quite like South Carolina's Band of Horses. There's a ghostly presence and wisdom found in the band's hauntingly beautiful 2007 Top 10 highlight, Cease to Begin, and it was felt Sunday night for the better part of 90 minutes at a sold-out La Zona Rosa in the reverb-drenched vocals of Ben Bridwell (pictured) and choice selection of covers: J.J. Cale's "Thirteen Days," Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Effigy," and final encore Ron Wood's "Act Together."