The Austin Chronicle

Off the Record

Music News

By Austin Powell, January 22, 2010, Music

Children Running Through

"Who's your favorite singer?" Patty Griffin innocently asked a small group of kids huddled inside Grounded in Music's new recording studio in South Austin on Tuesday. Their response? Trae and Lil Wayne. Nevertheless, Griffin and Jack Ingram (see "Wedding Vows," Nov. 4, 2005), who headline a benefit for the local nonprofit tonight (Thursday, Jan. 21) at the Paramount Theatre, had a rapt audience for their brief tutorial that concluded with a stark rendition of Ingram's "Seeing Stars." Grounded in Music, which was founded in the summer of 2007 and has become the signature music program for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Capital Area, helps provide instruments and training to kids and hosts 10-week courses on hip-hop, songwriting, and studio production. "Our real mission is not necessarily to crank out the next big thing," says co-founder Joe Stallone, who hopes to expand the program to other cities, "but to provide that initial spark for these underprivileged kids to turn to music." For an interview with Griffin, see

Dead Club Crawl

Long before Plush became Red River's haven for hip-hop and electronica, the corner of Seventh and Red River was home to the Blue Flamingo, a punk/crack/drag queen dive that the Chronicle once referred to as "the stankiest, most low-down joint to ever qualify for a TABC liquor license." "It was sort of like the CBGB's of the mid-Nineties' Austin garage-punk scene," recalls Yuppie Pricks' Robert Timbrook, who moonlights in the Buzzcocks cover band the Orgasm Addicts. "It was all pretty seedy and DIY, the kind of place where if you got 30 people in there it seemed packed." Inspired by a similar engagement centered around Houston's Axiom in 2007, Timbrook is helping to organize a Blue Flamingo tribute in April that's tentatively scheduled as a two-night stand split between Emo's and Plush. Thus far confirmed are scene mainstays the Chumps, Gomez, the Crack Pipes, the Dead End Cruisers, the Shindigs, Fuckemos, the Johnny Motard Experience, and the Paranoids, Timbrook's punk outfit with Scott Adair and event co-coordinator (and Chronicle proofer) Mark Fagan. "The scene just kind of picked up and moved elsewhere," Timbrook says of the Blue Flamingo, which closed in 1998 following disputes with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and between owners Ron Blackett and the infamous Miss Laura Moses. "This should be some sort of closing chapter."

Received in Bitterness

In bowling terms, the Sour Notes just notched a turkey: three significant, successive releases in just over a year. Latest LP It's Not Gonna Be Pretty rules the roost – dense, sincere indie pop for the Garden State generation. "I'm not afraid to say that this album will be the best record I'll ever put out," admits singer-songwriter Jared Boulanger. "That's kind of disheartening to say, but we've gotten progressively louder and thicker in the sound and faster paced. It's like everything that we tried to do previously came together on this album." Originally envisioned as a solo vehicle, the Sour Notes has ripened quickly since Boulanger moved to Austin from Houston in 2008, coinciding with the release of the band's debut EP, The Meat of the Fruit. The quartet just finished a two-week East Coast tour that was filmed for a documentary, and a third full-length is already in the can, though Boulanger plans to hold off on its release for a while in hopes of gaining some more national attention. "I like to think that I'm writing little pop song scores to movies," relates Boulanger, who shares a house with multi-instrumentalist Chris Page. "Most of the songs are themed after specific movies in the Criterion Collection. I get totally wrapped up in the feeling of what I'm watching and let that dictate the music." The Sour Notes light up Mohawk on Thursday, Jan. 28, with contemporaries the Demigs and Zest of Yore.

Random Play

Shearwater frontman Jonathan Meiburg has assembled a remarkable 75-page full-color dossier (that's French for fancy file folder) to accompany the band's latest, The Golden Archipelago, due Feb. 23 on Matador. The deadline to order the limited-edition collection from the online funding outlet Kickstarter, through which the group has already raised more than $8,000 from 136 backers, is Jan. 31. "Back when I was doing field research, I kept finding other stories that fascinated me as much as the work I was doing," writes Meiburg (see "Transcendentalism," May 12, 2006), who assembled the collection over the past 13 years. "I kept gathering this stuff, hoping I could use it someday. Some stories are too good to let slip through your fingers, even if you're not looking for them." 

Where was Ryan Bingham when his "The Weary Kind" won Best Original Song at the Golden Globes on Sunday? According to one insider, the local bronco buster (see "The Cowboy Song," June 5, 2009) was buying drinks at the bar. Jeff Bridges acknowledged the late co-music-supervisor Stephen Bruton from the podium and again on Live! With Regis and Kelly. The expanded edition of the Crazy Heart soundtrack, which features the previously unreleased Bruton instrumental "Somebody Else," was released Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Holy Psychedelic Horseshit: Timmy Hefner (see "A Gathering of Tribes," May 22, 2009) has the initial lineup for his annual four-day punk circus Chaos in Tejas, May 27-30, and it's a doozy: Australia's X, Japanese crust punks Bastard, Denton's the Marked Men, the Subhumans, and Ty Segall, along with locals Iron Age, the Hex Dispensers, and Woven Bones, among countless others.

Contrary to OTR's report last week, Grooveline Horns have been backing Jason Mraz since 2005's Mr. A-Z. Along with the Neville Brothers and Zeale, Mraz makes a cameo on Grooveline's forthcoming debut and is bringing the local brass section with him for a special performance for Bhumibol Adulyadej, the king of Thailand, this summer.

Local rockabilly kingpin Nick Curran, a former member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and ringer for Ronnie Dawson, has been diagnosed with cancer of the tongue. While the prognosis looks good, Curran has postponed his current tour for two months to undergo treatment. His new jukebox rattler, Reform School Girl, drops on Feb. 16.

C3 Presents ranked No. 10 among promoters in the annual year-end issue of Billboard, with a 2009 gross of close to $60 million, nearly half of which came from Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits Music Festival, which garnered $14 million and $13.5 million in sales, respectively. Improving on all fronts from 2008, the local enterprise produced 954 shows (192 of them sellouts) for a total attendance of 1,331,068 out of a possible 1.8 million.

The second edition of the Chronicle's Sound Wars competition is under way. Registration for local bands closes on Feb. 2. Complete details at

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