Off the Record
For those more rhythmically challenged at the inaugural Pachanga Latin Music Festival in Waterloo Park last Saturday, Grupo Fantasma's Jose Galeano offered some keen advice: "It's all in the hips; keep moving from side to side." Not even temperatures nearing 100 degrees could stop the several hundred in attendance from following suit, especially during Grupo's closing Santana medley and scorching translation of Prince's "Chelsea Rogers." Other highlights from the three-stage, daylong affair included the angular teen spirit of San Antonio-based trio Girl in a Coma and Vallejo's closing cover of "Mexican Radio." "I'm really happy with how it turned out," said event organizer Alex Vallejo backstage. "With festivals, you're lucky to break even your first time around. What we were really missing was a headliner like Los Lobos or Los Lonely Boys. Next year will be even better."
Two Turntables and a Microphone
Few in Austin know how to get down and boogie better than Waxploitation DJ and Second Sunday Sock Hop host Gabe Vaughn (left), a fact carved in wax with the grand opening of Breakaway Records on Sunday. The Eastside vinyl haven, located at 1704 E. Fifth #105 next to Cafe Mundi, is co-owned and operated by Florida transplant and Rock-A-Round Entertainment operator Mike Hooker, who in turn is responsible for August's Wild Weekend Power Pop Festival at Emo's, featuring Paul Collins' Beat and the first U.S. appearance from the Boys. "We've both been collecting vinyl for about 15 years," says Vaughn. "Our collections and strengths really balance each other out. Where we overlap is the girl groups." The beauty of Breakaway Records is the two have filtered the crates so you don't have to. "If you can find a record in a thrift store on any given day, than there's no need for it here," says Hooker, "but I want to make sure we always have stuff like the Stooges and the Sonics."
• The schedule grid for the 2008 Austin City Limits Music Festival, Sept. 26-28 in Zilker Park, was released Tuesday with a few notable additions, including Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet featuring Béla Fleck, Old 97's, Dan Dyer, the Black & White Years, Adele, and the M's. With the noted exception of Gnarls Barkley and the Raconteurs, conflicts of interest on OTR's end are minimal. Single-day passes are now available for $80. See www.aclfestival.com.
• ACL's KLRU counterpart confirmed a fresh batch of tapings for its 34th season: Manu Chao, the Swell Season, Iron & Wine, Jakob Dylan, Carrie Rodriguez, and Foo Fighters. For more information, call 475-9077 or sign up for the show's RSS feed at www.pbs.org/klru/austin/blog.
• Correction: Contrary to the Austin Police Department Public Information Office's initial statement, Robert "Lowkey" Hein of Southbound wasn't, in fact, charged with assault on a peace officer following his altercation with the APD outside Emo's on May 21. (See "Off the Record," May 30.) Hein met with a lawyer last week about filing a lawsuit against the city of Austin.
Last of the Breed
"If you were to look up 'deejay' in the dictionary, you would see Johnny Walker's face staring back at you," says KGSR's Andy Langer. "He was instantly recognizable on the air and in person." For 16 years, Walker defined the sound of Austin on KLBJ-FM, championing local artists like Sister Seven and Dan Dyer's Breedlove (see "Absolutely Dan Dyer," p.66) while spinning classic rock worthy of cruising in the Lizzymobile. After learning that Walker, who left the airwaves last year ("The Last Rock & Roll Deejay," April 13, 2007), suffered a stroke in late October, former Steamboat proprietor Danny Crooks planned this Sunday's Johnny Walker Day at Threadgill's World Headquarters to help offset mounting medical bills. "Johnny helped out so many people," says Crooks. "He was in the club just about every night for eight years, promoting and introducing the bands. This was the least we could do." Among the Steamboat regulars performing are Billy White, Steamroller, Pushmonkey, and Soulhat, whose single "Bonecrusher" Walker used to usher in the weekend each Friday at 5pm. Bob Schneider is even going to dust off a few Joe Rockhead numbers for the occasion. "That was such a special era for me and for Austin," Walker concedes. "I'm really excited to see some old friends."
Transmission Version 2.0
Unbeknownst to most, Transmission Entertainment secured the lease on Sixth Street's Bourbon Rocks shortly before South by Southwest 2008. The local booking and event-production venture is currently in the process of renovating the outside stage to reach a capacity of 1,000 – comparable to that of competitors La Zona Rosa and Emo's. The club's 300-capacity indoor space, in accordance with the Downtown Austin Alliance, is being transformed into an acoustically efficient cafe. "We want to give Sixth Street a flagship live music venue but also cater to the local market and daytime tourists," says Club de Ville owner and Lamberts partner Michael Terrazas from the company's swank new Downtown offices. To help combat noise issues, outdoor shows at all of Transmission's venues are being pushed forward, effective immediately, with doors opening around 7pm and weekday performances wrapping up by 11pm. On a side note, the entertainment coalition also has a new partner, California's Little Radio, whose archives of live recordings can be streamed at the company's impressive new website, www.transmissionentertainment.com, launching sometime today (Thursday).
Space Circus Parts I & II
After 25 years, the deep space jazz-funk of Return to Forever finally orbited back to earth. Touching down in Austin on Thursday for a two-night stand at the Paramount Theatre, chief composer Chick Corea prefaced both evenings as dress rehearsals, but his mothership appeared in fine form nonetheless, embarking on 2½-hour excursions of exquisite astral wandering that wound through the guitar fissures of "Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy," the mesmerizing "No Mystery," and closer "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant." The most inspiring moment was also the most unexpected, when an impromptu Q&A session on Friday led to a short improvised jam. It was as if neither the band nor the fans were willing to let go again.