Off the Record

Music News

Off the Record
Illustration by Nathan Jensen

The Big Lebowski

"I've spent the last week at home watching nothing but Jeff Bridges," laughs Charlie Sexton before arriving at the following conclusion. "There's a certain amount of the Dude that never goes away." The Arc Angel is writing and producing the score for The Open Road, which casts Justin Timberlake as the estranged son of a baseball legend, played by The Big Lebowski's Bridges. Lyle Lovett is slated to make an appearance in the film and contribute a new song to its soundtrack, rounded out by material from Sexton and a cover of Sly & the Family Stone's version of "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)" by Gary Clark Jr. Sexton's not the only one in town brushing shoulders with the Dude, either. Alongside longtime friend T Bone Burnett, Stephen Bruton is co-producing the soundtrack for Crazy Heart, which finds Bridges trying his hand as a broken-down country singer whose backing band includes local rising outlaw Ryan Bingham. "Right now we're creating an alternate world of country music, country music as you would like it to be," says Burnett, who leads Robert Plant & Alison Krauss' Raising Sand revue next Saturday at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Thankfully, Bruton, who battled throat cancer last year, is feeling up to the task. "My energy level comes and goes more than it used to, but by and large, everything is great," Bruton says from the set in California. "I've been taking long walks and jogging a little bit. You live every day, that's what you do."

Politik Kills

Combat Rock: Grupo Fantasma
Combat Rock: Grupo Fantasma (Photo courtesy of Grupo Fantasma)

Grupo Fantasma recently returned from a 10-day tour of duty on behalf of AKA Productions, performing for the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in Kuwait and Iraq. "There was a huge sandstorm that hit us in Iraq that was like nothing I've ever seen," debriefs guitarist Adrian Quesada. "It was definitely the most meaningful experience we've had as a band. The troops were really appreciative and needed some sort of diversion and entertainment." The local Latin juggernaut blasts Antone's on Sunday with Les & the Funk Mob as a benefit for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.


› Not many building tenants would be thrilled to discover they had rats. Upon reading in these pages about the Raul's-era mural buried behind the south wall of what was once the Texas Showdown Saloon on Guadalupe ("Off the Record," June 27), new lessee Little Woodrow's decided on action. "We're still assessing the situation, but our current plan is to preserve it behind protective glass," says partner Rick Engel. "If for whatever reason that doesn't pan out, then it will be donated to the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture."

Beerland proprietors Randall and Donya Stockton recently opened the Good Knight, a new cafe and lounge on the Eastside, two doors down from Rio Rita.

Jerry Jeff Walker, Roky Erickson, and Doug Sahm at Raul's precursor Gemini's Club, 1977
Jerry Jeff Walker, Roky Erickson, and Doug Sahm at Raul's precursor Gemini's Club, 1977 (Photo by Ken Hoge)

Transmission Entertainment has pushed back the opening of Sixth Street's Radio Room (formerly Bourbon Rocks) indefinitely. The entertainment coalition is restructuring the venue in order to increase its capacity from 700 to 1,000. The only scheduled show on the books, Of Montreal's Nov. 13 engagement, has been moved to Fiesta Gardens (2101 Bergman). Meahwhile, Mohawk expects to complete the construction of its Floydian 11-foot bordering wall by the end of month, with additional sound-directing canvases to be installed at a later time.

Ardent Residential has renounced its plans to develop the 7 acres surrounding the Broken Spoke, due to conflicting projects, but the property remains on the market. "I don't really like a whole lot of change," says Spokesman James White. "If I won a Texas hold 'em tournament, I'd buy the land myself and develop it around the Spoke, kind of like Gruene Hall." White also reports that his historic honky-tonk served as the backdrop for a new episode of Friday Night Lights and a short film with Dale Watson scripted as "Goin' Nowhere Fast."

Days of Our Lives

Haunting Oboe Music
Haunting Oboe Music (Photo by Sandy Carson)

It's been a long, productive year for Haunting Oboe Music. The local sextet has recorded and released a new EP monthly throughout 2008, an idea the band originally got from Brooklyn's Bishop Allen. "I thought that we had been stagnant for a while and could use some deadlines," relays singer/guitarist George Cain. "This project puts pressure on us to continuously develop. Members that have never really contributed before are finding out that they do have a voice and a lot of good ideas." What's unique about the HOM calendar approach is the way it documents a young band, that's neither haunting nor plays oboe music, in desperate search of its identity – from the Man Man-esque genre hopscotch of February's installment through the more experimental, kitchen-sink-included collages in May and August's slo-core indie rock – and slowly but surely finding it. "It sounds kind of crazy, but at the end of the year, we want to take a month off and record a new album, something that takes from everything we've put together thus far," Cain concludes. Haunting Oboe Music spooks the Hole in the Wall on Saturday with the Fever Dreams and July collaborators Prayer for Animals.

Random Play

• The mystery surrounding Sir Douglas Quintet's Scandinavian Years, which is riding high on Norway's Top 40 albums chart for the seventh consecutive week, has been solved. According to heir Shawn Sahm, the album is a compilation of Doug Sahm's albums for Sonet, recorded between 1982 and '85 (Quintessence, Midnight Sun, Rio Medina, Luv Ya' Europa). "The Europeans have always understood and appreciated his music," says Sahm, whose Tex Mex Experience leaves soon for a tour of the UK. "They're sending my dad and Augie [Meyers] gold records!"

• In case you're a little slow with tabloid gossip (like OTR), the Dixie Chicks' Emily Robison and local roots maverick Charlie Robison, married in 1999, with three children, were divorced last month citing conflict of personalities.

• Quick: What do Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, and Austin's Eliza Gilkyson have in common? They're among the artists covered by Joan Baez on her latest Day After Tomorrow, produced by Steve Earle. The renowned songstress took on Gilkyson's "Requiem" and "Rose of Sharon."

• Keep an eye peeled for the Chronicle's supplement guide to the 2008 Austin City Limits Music Festival, available at wristband exchange outlets beginning Monday.

• Former KLBJ-FM deejay Thomas Quarles, who once served as director of creative services for Austin's six Clear Channel Radio stations, died last Wednesday of esophageal cancer. He was 55.

Music news

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Charlie Sexton, T Bone Burnett, Stephen Bruton, Jeff Bridges, Haunting Oboe Music, Raul's, Broken Spoke, Transmission Entertainment

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