Off the Record
Forsaking the Song, Part 3
Not only was there no faculty representation at the Texas Union board meeting on Jan. 29 – as discussed here last week – it now appears as though the closure (or "repurposing") of the Cactus Cafe and the termination of UT's informal classes were not even discussed at that time. Under the Texas Open Meetings Act, the Chronicle acquired an audio recording of the 25-minute meeting. Upon review, the recording – while not specifically addressing the contents of the budget report – indicates that the decision was made during an executive session between University Unions Executive Director Andy Smith, Student Government President Liam O'Rourke, and Student Events Center President Andrew Nash without input from the remainder of the advisory board (see "Still Prickly: UT Students vs. Cactus Cuts," News).
While O'Rourke defended his position last week, repeatedly stressing that "students should be the ones leading all efforts to program and use" the Cactus, on Feb. 10, the Graduate Student Asse-mbly, on behalf of its 12,000-plus constituency, passed a resolution declaring the assembly "opposes any decisions regarding the Cactus Cafe made without the direct input of graduate students." That same day, The Daily Texan reported that the student- and faculty-based Stop the Cuts Coalition was planning a potential rally on March 4. For a more complete breakdown, see "Five Misconceptions," News.
The Place and the Time
In what's already been coined the "Three Ring Circus" by event coordinator Margaret Moser, the Explosives have confirmed for the Austin Music Awards with Moby Grape's Peter Lewis (see "Naked If I Want To," Jan. 8) and Creedence Clearwater Revival's Stu Cook, capping off the music portion of South by Southwest 2010 at the Austin Music Hall on Saturday, March 20. Aficionados may recall that Cook produced the Explosives' 1982 garage romp Restless Natives and appeared on Lewis' lone solo bow from 1995. Now, Austin's SteadyBoy Records is close to completing a deal to release a brand new album from Moby Grape, featuring all of the surviving original members and Skip Spence's son, Omar. "It's absolutely wonderful," beams Explosives catalyst and label head Freddie Steady Krc. The AMAs will also feature a tribute to Stephen Bruton, presented by the Texas Sheiks – Geoff Muldaur, Cindy Cashdollar, Bruce Hughes, Suzy Thompson, and Floyd Domino – and jug maestro Jim Kweskin (see "Sheik to Sheik") along with a special homecoming engagement from Americana sweetheart Sarah Jarosz (see "Sarah's Muse," Jan. 15). Closing out the evening is the incomparable Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, holding court with an impromptu collection of the evening's winners in the first-ever Midnight Jam. Expect more confirmations, including a few ghosts from AMA's past, in the coming weeks.
England's Newest Hitmakers
Last Tuesday at the Driskill Hotel, Sir Nigel Sheinwald (pictured), the UK ambassador to the United States, outlined the mutual benefits of free trade in the simplest of terms: "If you would've banned the Beatles, and we banned the Beach Boys, the Sixties wouldn't have been much fun." In town to meet with state and city officials and deliver a policy speech about Afghanistan at the University of Texas, the ambassador used some downtime to beat the drums for the British presence at SXSW 2010. "[The Festival] allows us to showcase things that are very important to our economy and our international image," Sheinwald stressed. "This will give people their first taste of working here, performing here, getting to understand the American market." Along with sponsoring the work of 38 British digital media companies at SXSW Interactive, the UK Trade & Investment government organization (through the British Music Partnership) is once more transforming Latitude 30 into the British Music Embassy, hosting official showcases in the evening while spotlighting regional talent with day parties dedicated to the music of Belfast (Wednesday), Yorkshire and Wales (Thursday), Scotland (Friday), and Liverpool (Saturday). The Embassy will be opening a day early this year for BritBash!, a crossover event aimed at introducing Interactive attendees to a few musical acts, but the benefits of a well-organized British presence at SXSW – as White Denim's European deal with Full Time Hobby attests – still works both ways. "If it's right that over 500 British delegates have signed up and registered, before you get on to Twitter and everything else, you have quite a large body of people that are going to be here," Sheinwald concluded. "If someone makes a splash from your music industry, they have an immediate echo chamber of enthusiasts in the UK."
Ten UK Artists to Watch at SXSW 2010
Banjo or Freakout
The Jim Jones Revue
Joe Gideon & the Shark
Here Come the Nice
The latest installment in the British Invasion DVD series spotlights the rambunctious glory of the Small Faces with All or Nothing 1965-1968, a two-hour documentary that features 27 complete performances and the last filmed interview with Ronnie Lane in Austin in 1988. "We were a soul band, an R&B band on stage," prefaces local keyboardist Ian McLagan before "Hey Girl."
The Strange Boys' second LP, Be Brave, due on Tuesday from In the Red (stateside) and Rough Trade (worldwide), sounds as if it were envisioned on the streets of London, with singer/guitarist Ryan Sambol busking for his dinner. "Most of it was written on the road," confirms Sambol, referring to the band's first European tour last year during which he played a few impromptu solo shows. "It's a really good way to see if a song is a real song, if you can play it by yourself and it holds." Whereas the bandstand fervor of the Boys' 2009 debut, And Girls Club, was perfected over the course of a few years, Be Brave is a transitional album – rough and soulful – marking the entrance of singer/saxophonist Jenna Thornhill deWitt of Mika Miko and the exit of longtime timekeeper Matt Hammer. Some songs were barely a week old at the time of their recording. "As I begin to accept failure, the music will get better," surmises Sambol, his own harshest critic. "And we're going to get someone else to sing in the Strange Boys someday. It's going to be a lot better." Until then, the Boys kick off the West Coast leg of their U.S. tour at Emo's on Friday (Feb. 19), opening for Ian Svenonius' Chain & the Gang alongside YellowFever and Cowabunga Babes.
Proving that when one door closes another one opens, the space currently housing the terminal Snake Eyes Vinyl is being acquired by Missing Link Records. A Dallas-based vinyl emporium, Missing Link acquired part of its 100,000-plus record inventory from an Indianapolis shop of the same name and hopes to open in time for SXSW, coinciding with a seller's booth at the Austin Record Convention in the Austin Convention Center. "I want to bring a little bit of everything," relays owner Richard Quintana.
Scene veterans Tee Double and Lady Legacy (see "This Time Just the Girls," Aug. 28, 2009) lead a free panel on Branding & Promotion for Urban Artists, presented by the Austin Music Foundation, at the Victory Grill on Monday, 7pm. Local hip-hop impresario Matt Sonzala, meanwhile, has taken to the airwaves again with AustinSurreal, airing on KAOS Radio Austin every Sunday, 11pm-1am.
The SXSW 2010 schedule grid dropped online this week with a few surprising additions, including Big Star, Society's Ills, Broken Bells, 8Ball & MJG, psychedelic cult Yahowha 13, and the curiously named Creature With the Atom Brain. Wristbands go on sale today, Thursday, online only at wristband.sxsw.com.