Off the Record
SXSW music news and carryings on
No one sat down for even a second during R.E.M.'s historic Austin City Limits taping on Thursday and not just because the studio had removed its seats for the occasion. The seminal Athens, Ga., act blitzed through a 19-song set littered with hits ("So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)," "Losing My Religion") but was driven by the band's forthcoming Accelerate, including the Jimmy Webb-inspired "Houston." ACL's 34th season, which hits the airwaves May 4, is shaping up to be one of its strongest yet. Bettye LaVette and special guest Pinetop Perkins are confirmed for mid-April, along with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and local pearl Carolyn Wonderland. The show's also in talks with Chick Corea's fusion ensemble Return to Forever, which is launching its reunion tour with a two-night stand at Austin's Paramount Theatre beginning on May 29. "We're hoping to land Radiohead," confided ACL producer Terry Lickona. "They're coming through Texas, so we at least have to try."
Sheiks of Industry
Inside every record-label employee there's a destruction-prone animal, thirsting for noise. Or at least that appeared to be the case yesterday at the Carousel Lounge as Matador Records co-owner Gerard Cosloy and Butthole Surfer and former Trance Syndicate head King Coffey rattled the walls under the moniker Air Traffic Controllers. That doesn't mean that Cosloy wasn't prepared to talk business. "Essentially we're trying to take something that's close to perfection already and make it a little better," he said of Matador's upcoming reissues of Mission of Burma's early catalog, each coupled with a live DVD. "They could have one show that was blindingly great and another that was teetering on the edge of disaster, but even at their worst, there was still more to chew on than any other band in their day," Cosloy said. Matador also has a six-single series with Jay Reatard in the works for an October release, while Cosloy declared Austin troupe Shearwater's upcoming label debut, Rook, to be the band's "best yet" and possibly "one of the best records we'll ever put out."
Museum of Love
Daniel Johnston was the guest of honor last Friday at Zach Scott Theatre for Speeding Motorcycle, a rock opera that brings his illustrations to life through song. Considering that about one in 10 contemporary artists has collaborated with or covered Johnston at some point, Creative Director Jason Nodler has high hopes for this week's shows, which includes a Sunday matinee. "Hopefully we'll be getting some rock stars in the house," Nodler says. "We've put some feelers out." Resident rock star and cast member Kathy McCarty has added her rendition of Johnston's "Like a Monkey in a Zoo" to the show's nightly encore, a free tribute concert occurring outside on the theatre's patio. "We're spreading the gospel," Nodler says.
Slow Motion Sound
"It's proof to me that the music will live forever," composer Steve Reich said of his work that was performed by San Antonio's SOLI Chamber Ensemble during a Wednesday night SXSW showcase at St. David's Church. Shortly before his SXSW conversation with Thurston Moore, Reich chatted with OTR about the merging of classical and popular music, his history with Sonic Youth, and his latest work, Daniel Variations. Check it out at austinchronicle.com/earache. Meanwhile, Austin's most prolific composer, Graham Reynolds, best known for his score to Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly, hosts another avant-garde showcase tonight at St. David's, spotlighting Slovenian violinist Volodja Balzalorsky, Drums & Tuba side-project Wolff, the Brannen Temple Trio, and his own ensemble, Golden Arm Trio.
• Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys threw down with 30 minutes of freestyle at the UGK Family tribute to Pimp C on Wednesday at Fuze, while Dizzee Rascal and about 40 others joined Bun B onstage for the ultimate UGK karaoke session.
• Don't be surprised if Reckless Kelly stops by the Yep Roc party at the Dirty Dog Bar this afternoon before branding the Austin Music Hall. The local roots-rock outfit, led by brothers Willy and Cody Braun, inked a deal this week with the Chapel Hill-based Americana label, which will release Kelly's Bulletproof this summer. The album was recorded at Willie Nelson's famed Pedernales studio and shares song credits with Robert Earl Keen for the Hurricane Katrina-based "Godforsaken Town."
• Eternal 13th Floor Elevators acolyte Billy Gibbons joined Roky Erickson onstage at Threadgill's for the psychedelic visionary's annual Ice Cream Social, mere hours after presenting Erickson the award for Austin Musician of the Year at the annual Austin Music Awards.