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By Austin Powell, February 13, 2009, Music

The Greatest Gift

Scratch Acid berserker David Yow has been tapped as special guest for the Dicks' reunion at the 2008-09 Austin Music Awards at the Austin Music Hall on March 18. "Watching them play wasn't scary, but I feared for my safety," offers Yow from L.A., shortly before a rehearsal with his band Qui. "There was a good chance you were going to get hit in the face. There was a chaos but also a whole lot of fun. They were able to bring Motown into the Sex Pistols. I always dug that." Yow fondly recalls waiting curbside at Raul's to see the Dicks and being "starstruck" not only by Gary Floyd's confrontational theatrics but also after smoking a joint with guitarist Buxf Parrot in the parking lot of Conan's Pizza. "One of the cool things about the Dicks and a lot of Central Texas punk bands was that it wasn't enough to just play music; they were so much more entertaining in their presentation," the Jesus Lizard relates. "There was nothing left in the closet. It was all in-your-face shit." Also added to the bill, which stars the convergence of Roky Erickson and the Black Angels, is a Doug Sahm tribute with Shawn Sahm and friends, the oddly appropriate pairing of Bob Schneider and Fireants, and a Southern sirens showcase featuring Suzanna Choffel, Ruthie Foster, and Carolyn Wonderland.

Belle of the Ball

"The only reflection I'm doing is that horrified stare into the mirror," laughed Marcia Ball as she made her way back to Austin from the Grammys. "At 60 you think, 'How much more can I possibly create?' and, 'How much good can I do?'" The acclaimed local pianist should have no problem addressing either question this weekend at Antone's, where she celebrates her landmark birthday (March 20) early with a three-day bash that benefits both the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians and Sweet Home New Orleans. The festivities begin Friday the 13th with a Rocking Voodoo Party, featuring the Cajun licks of Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie, and Sonny Landreth's swamp blues. Saturday is clearly ladies night, bringing together Angela Strehli and Lou Ann Barton with Maria Muldaur, Tracy Nelson, Lavelle White, and Sarah Brown. Wrapping things up Sunday is a Pianorama Brunch starring Floyd Domino, Johnny Nicholas, Riley Osborne, Nick Connolly, and a special guest from Fort Worth. Advance tickets are available at "I've always wanted to have my friends from all over the country get together," Ball relates. "I've always thought they would like each other if they met, and I didn't want it to be at my funeral. I want it to be at a party."

Bright Blue Dream

Great artists don't cover songs. They possess them, deconstructing and recasting the material in their own image. Following a series of imaginative cassettes and his translucent Sunset opus, last year's The Glowing City, former Sound Team bassist Bill Baird recently created his own soundtrack, Songs the Sound of Myself, as Written by Others, a hand-sewn book/covers collection available through NYC's Tired Trails. Baird mines selections from Robert Wyatt ("Sea Song") and Townes Van Zandt ("I'll Be Here in the Morning") to Neil Young ("Expecting to Fly") and Austin's Jared Van Fleet ("Last Fall"), framed in the context of his bedroom folk experimentation. "Doing covers allows you to go places you normally wouldn't," Baird muses. "It's like assuming an alternate personality. You can expose yourself a bit more with another person's words." Baird commemorates the release, along with his latest Sunset 7-inch, Loveshines II, for the Church of the Friendly Ghost's YouTube anniversary celebration at the Salvage Vanguard Theater on Sunday, with David Israel, Silver Pines, Weird Weeds, Reverse X Rays, and Balmorhea.

SXSW on Fire

Two fires occurred in succession on Sixth Street early Friday morning at the Blind Pig Pub and Vice nightclub, causing extensive damage to the upper deck of the neighboring Maggie Mae's, as well as some smoke and water blemishes to 311 Club, Midnight Cowboy, and Black Cat Custom Tattoo. The fires were deemed unrelated and accidental. The downstairs of Maggie Mae's and Vice reopened that evening, and South by Southwest Music Creative Director Brent Grulke expects both venues to be fully operational by March madness. In fact, the Conference has registered a total of 87 venues this year, thanks to new additions such as the Music Gym and Mother Egan's Irish Pub. SXSW should have no problem filling the seats, either. The incomparable PJ Harvey and John Parish are confirmed to appear in support of their second collaborative LP, A Woman a Man Walked By, due March 30, while the Decemberists will perform their forthcoming The Hazards of Love from start to finish at Stubb's on Wednesday, March 18. Other headline-worthy acts affirmed through registration to include the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach (presumably backed by Hacienda), Echo & the Bunnymen, New York Dolls, Camera Obscura, and the UK electro-heartthrob Little Boots.

Random Play

• Though not televised, Ruben Ramos & the Mexican Revolution's ¡Viva La Revolucion! won Best Tejano Album at the 51st annual Grammys on Sunday, beating out local contemporaries Tortilla Factory, while Brad Paisley's "Cluster Pluck," featuring Austin's Redd Volkaert, earned Best Country Instrumental Performance. Traditional blues nominee Pinetop Perkins left empty-handed (for once), but he's still celebrating his invitation to the big dance tonight (Thursday) at Antone's with Gary Clark Jr. and Derek O'Brien, among others.

• Like an All Tomorrow's Parties festival curated by the Black Angels, Psych Fest 2 expands this year to three days, March 13-15, at Transmission Entertainment's new Radio Room (508 E. Sixth). The hallucinogenic happening features A Place to Bury Strangers, Dead Meadow, Indian Jewelry, and Wooden Shjips alongside locals such as the Strange Boys, Shapes Have Fangs, and Ringo Deathstarr, plus original artifacts from the psychedelic era courtesy of the Seeds' Sky Saxon and Austin's cult visionaries the Golden Dawn, which will be performing its 1968 debut, Power Plant, in its entirety. Visit for details.

• Addressing rumors that Stephen Bruton was at home in hospice care, his manager Ken Kushnick informed the Chronicle that the local guitarist left for California on Tuesday for another round of chemotherapy and to help finish the Crazy Heart soundtrack with T Bone Burnett. "Cancer is like alcoholism," Kushnick said. "Even when you're told that you're cured, you never know. He's been through various treatments, some of them for ongoing problems and others that have been preventative."

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