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Kris Kristofferson? Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake in <i>Crazy Heart.</i>
Kris Kristofferson? Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake in Crazy Heart.

The Weary Kind

In Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges delivers a sobering portrait of "Wrangler of Love" Bad Blake, an outlaw composite equal parts Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings, whose battle with the bottle rings truer than any music biopic in recent memory. The most chilling moment actually comes at the very end of the credits as the a cappella version by Robert Duvall of Billy Joe Shaver's "Live Forever" from the film accompanies a freeze frame: "Dedicated to the memory of Stephen Bruton." The late South Austin staple who succumbed to cancer in May co-produced the soundtrack with T Bone Burnett (see "Off the Record," Sept. 19, 2008) and shares writing credits for new country standards "Hold On You" and "Fallin' & Flyin'," which are brought to life with onscreen help from Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses (see "The Cowboy Song," June 5) and local accordion maestro Joel Guzman. Crazy Heart doesn't open locally until Jan. 8, 2010, with the New West soundtrack following shortly after, but has already picked up best music honors from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the Boston Society of Film Critics, while Bingham's "The Weary Kind" earned a Golden Globe nomination this week. Aligning perfectly, Malford Milligan leads Brannen Temple, Yoggie Musgrove, and more in a special presentation of Bruton's music on Sunday at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, 8-11pm, an encore of sorts to a similar tribute staged a few months back at the Saxon Pub and recorded for a live album due out next year.

Circle of Demons

Collins and Ramirez
Collins and Ramirez

The two sides to local metalcore outfit At All Cost are more evident in retrospect. Vocalist/keyboardist Andrew Collins now leads the electro-pop troupe L.A.X, while guitarist Trey Ramirez shovels fire and brimstone with breakthrough metal act Pack of Wolves. The dichotomy between the two made At All Cost a rarity not just on the local scene but to the national metal community at large. "Even on our first EP [2003's Shattered Dreams and Bourgeois Schemes], Andrew was using a vocoder and some other things that we had never really heard in metal," relates Ramirez, whose wolf pack is recording a new album in February. "Some people thought it was new and exciting, and others just flat out rejected it. We really took people out of their comfort zones." Formed in 2001 with a goal of playing Emo's outside stage, the band notched two videos on MTV's Headbangers Ball and tours with Hatebreed and Darkest Hour, with whom original guitarist Mike Theobald now resides. After a brief hiatus following the Century Media-backed release of the quintet's second LP, 2007's Circle of Demons, At All Cost reconvenes one last time at Red 7 on Saturday, Dec. 19, to officially bury the hatchet with Houston's the Jonbenét and locals Radioland Murders, both of whom are also throwing in the towel.

Sleigh Bells

Off the Record

Attention local labels and holiday shoppers: OTR has collected a few Santa sacks worth of used mailing envelopes, all of which are now available for free at the Chronicle's front office. Please take as needed. Here are some ideas for a few last-minute stocking stuffers:

• The new 12-inch EP from local grindcore combo Mammoth Grinder, Extinction of Humanity, has been picked up by renowned metal label Relapse Records.

• As part of Bloodshot Records' 15-year anniversary campaign, Alejandro Escovedo's introspective opus, A Man Under the Influence, is getting deluxe reissue treatment as a limited-edition, double-vinyl LP that includes bonus tracks and his Bourbonitis Blues EP.

• Creedence Clearwater Revisited, starring Austin bassist Stu Cook, digs its heels into "Run Rudolph Run" for the charity compilation Hope for the Holidays: Rockin' Christmas for a Cure benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

• Local vinyl and tape specialists Natrix Natrix pressed both black and white vinyl for its new 7-inch split from Deer Tick and the Shivers.

Bloodstains Across Texas, the 1992 regional punk compilation featuring the Skunks, Huns, and Offenders, among others, has finally been repressed.

Ocote Soul Sounds & Adrian Quesada's latest Latin transfusion, Coconut Rock, has been upgraded, featuring five new remixes, including Quesada's sedated take on "Vendendo Saude e Fe."

• Boutique experimental imprint Quiet Design Records curates Spectra: Guitar in the 21st Century, a new compilation of minimalist tonal architecture featuring Jandek and Tetuzi Akiyama. "We look at the label as an art gallery in a very literal sense where people show their work," explains co-founder Cory Allen, who's featured on the mix and also released a new solo album, Hearing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Hears.

• If that's not enough to get you into the holiday spirit, Bob Schneider's Christmastime probably won't help. The collection tackles the more melancholic aspects of the winter season, complete with a cover of the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York." Visit to order.

Random Play

A get-well-soon note is long overdue for Bad Livers extraordinaire Mark Rubin, who's recovering from shoulder surgery after severing a tendon in his rotator cuff while lifting his stand-up bass over a subway turnstile in New York City. Not even that could slow him down, since he was trailed recently by a German documentary crew as part of his expansive Other Europeans project (, which has alternatively influenced his local work with Silas Lowe as Fat Man & Little Boy. The band's grassroots debut, The Atomic Duo, knocks the dust off a few ragtime traditionals. "I became more focused about what it is about American music that makes it important, that core repertoire of sound that existed particularly in the South," relays Rubin.

Whereas 2008's Speeding Motorcycle chronicled Daniel Johnston's iconic love in vain, Catastrophic Theatre Artistic Director Jason Nodler's latest adaptation, Life Is Happy and Sad, tackles the comic genius' formative years in Austin, re-creating some of the dialogue and scenes captured on his early tapes. "It's a lot more intimate and realistic," reports Bill Anderson, who played himself in a scene last weekend that depicted the writing of "Etiquette" from 1985's Continued Story. "The surreal, space-time ramifications of doing it was pretty weird, but I didn't have time to think about it." No word yet on a local engagement, but the near two-hour play runs through Dec. 19 at Houston's DiverseWorks ArtSpace.

Let the countdown begin.Willie Nelson announced at the Austin Music Hall on Tuesday that his next Fourth of July Picnic will take place at Direct Events' new Backyard.

The reunited Joe Ely Band has signed on for the 23rd annual Old Settler's Music Festival at the Salt Lick Pavilion, April 15-18, 2010. Discounted early bird tickets are on sale now:

Having already exhausted every trick in The Rockford Files, OTR needs some help tracking down the following people regarding The Austin Chronicle Music Anthology: G.R. Farrell, Rob Klein, Eric Lord, Claude Mathews, Lee Moore, and Greg Stephens. If you have any leads, please drop a line to

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Stephen Bruton, Crazy Heart, T Bone Burnett, At All Cost, Mark Rubin, Daniel Johnston, Jeff Bridges, Ryan Bingham, L.A.X, Pack of Wolves

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