Off the Record

Music News

Bubble Puppy
Bubble Puppy

Austin Music Awards, Part 2

A pivotal touchstone of Texas psych, Bubble Puppy is confirmed to appear at the 2010-11 Austin Music Awards at the Austin Music Hall on Saturday, March 19. Best known for classic rock nugget "Hot Smoke & Sasafrass," the group hasn't performed since 1986, though recent reissues of the band's lone masterpiece, 1969's pastoral delight A Gathering of Promises, have kept Bubble Puppy's legacy aflame (see "Hot Smoke & Sasafrass," May 7, 2004). "It's more of a revue than a reunion," clarifies lead guitarist/vocalist Todd Potter. Onetime guitarist Mark Miller will be filling in for co-founder Rod Prince, and there's already talk of another giant from the band's original label, International Records, making a guest appearance. "We want to give it another whirl," says Potter (see "The 14th Floor," Aug. 12, 2005). "That music was so ahead of its time. We weren't even 20, and we took it to the limit. We lived it." Along with the previously announced reunion of the Wagoneers and folk tempest Sahara Smith, indie-funk jam band the Bright Light Social Hour has also been added to the bill. Voting for the Austin Music Poll Ballot closes on Monday, Jan. 31. Cast away at

Too Long in the Wasteland

On Jan. 11 in The New York Review of Books blog, novelist Larry McMurtry penned "American Tragedy," a response to the Tucson, Ariz., rampage that took issue with Arizona's lenient concealed handgun legislation. The most thoughtful response came courtesy of his son, local spitfire James McMurtry. "We don't have a gun problem per se, we have a violence problem," the Continental Club regular posted, a mere 15 hours later. "There are indeed cases where guns don't help. Here, I'll give the anti gun crowd a bit of ammo. Restricting handguns could save some lives, the lives of those shot on impulse in heated domestic squabbles and drunken fights gone too far. But no gun law will prevent random mass killings. The worst such killing committed by an American in recent years was carried out with a truck load of fertilizer, not a gun." McMurtry sounds off about his recent reissues at

Come Original

Full Service
Full Service

Full Service tours in style. A few years ago, the local alt-reggae act tailgated at every stop on 311 and Snoop Dogg's joint tour, playing generator-powered sets in the venues' parking lots that often resulted in confrontations with the local authorities. The so-called Takeover Tour led to an invitation to perform on 311's Caribbean Cruise, a sold-out four-night excursion from Miami to the Turks and Caicos Islands that departs on March 3, where a rough cut of the Austinites' tour documentary will be screened. Upon return, Full Service embarks on its most ingenious road trip yet, the 20-Tour, a completely fan-booked living room expedition – 20 people at $20 a head – with each patron receiving a copy of the quartet's new acoustic album, Roaming Dragons. "We made an announcement a while back, and to our delight it kind of booked itself," relays drummer/vocalist Hoagman. "[A] lot more people are inviting us into their living rooms, which is awesome because we can save on hotels and food." Full Service warms up for Sublime tribute Badfish at Emo's on Sunday, Jan. 30.

Walking the Cow

Daniel Johnston
Daniel Johnston (Photo courtesy of Scott Wade)

After a quick stroll through Waterloo Records, Daniel Johnston celebrated his 50th birthday last Saturday, Jan. 22, with an impromptu acoustic set in front of his iconic (and recently tagged) frog mural on Guadalupe, performing chilling renditions of "Mean Girls Give Pleasure" and "Last Song" for a few dozen supporters. The occasion also marked the launch of a new streaming Web radio station, Actor Gabriel Sunday, who'll be playing a young Johnston in the forthcoming biopic, was on hand for character study. The Simpsons creator Matt Groening is also on board in some capacity, according to brother Dick Johnston, who said, "We want something more interactive and surreal."

Case Closed

More than six months after hearing closing arguments (see "Off the Record," June 4, 2010), Judge Craig Gargotta finally issued his memorandum opinion on Tuesday, Jan. 25, in the bankruptcy lawsuit between the estate of Don Walser and the late yodeler's former record labels, Antone's Records, Texas Music Group, and Texas Clef Entertainment. Under the breach of contract claim, the Walsers were awarded roughly $30,000 in damages and interest. That's one-tenth of what was sought though, as the judge denied the plaintiff's other claims (breach of fiduciary duty, rescission of the contract, and "piercing of the corporate veil"). More importantly, the judgment closes an ugly chapter in Austin music history that dates back to the bankruptcy of Watermelon Records (see "Going for Broke," June 18, 1999) and shifts the rights to Walser's master recordings to New West Records. The plaintiff's lawyer, Craig Barker, responds at

Random Play

"I'm a pretty successful songwriter and known in some circles, but I didn't think the story of my career was of any real entertainment value," says Rodney Crowell of his first book, Chinaberry Sidewalks, reviewed in "Phases & Stages." Instead, the memoir offers something far more personal and profound, an epic remembrance of his parents' honky-tonk romance, delivered with the same hallmarks of Crowell's best songwriting: expert pacing, gritty detail, and humor by the bottle. The Houston Kid narrates a few selections at BookPeople on Friday, Jan. 28, 7pm. For the complete interview, scope

Put a little something extra in the tip jar the next time you see Uncle Lucius. The local roots-rock act was robbed earlier this week on its first-ever Californian tour, losing everything but the shirts on their backs. "It's ok San Fran, its not your fault, just don't touch our gear," the band posted on Facebook.

Continental Club owner Steve Wertheimer rolls out his 1941 Subias Mercury this weekend at Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, Calif. The car's being distinguished as one of the 75 most significant custom hot rods ever built.

Two nights after headlining the gala opening of the Moody Theater, the Steve Miller Band will tape the venue's first Austin City Limits episode on Saturday, Feb. 26. The event will be preceded by a free outdoor street party, from 3 to 8pm, to include performances from Dale Watson, Rick Trevino, and Matt Wilson.

Music news

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Bubble Puppy, James McMurtry, Daniel Johnston, Don Walser, Full Service, Bright Light Social Hour, Todd Potter, Rodney Crowell

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