Off the Record
"Guess who I'm sitting next to?" exclaimed one excited fan. "Billy Fucking Gibbons!" While we wondered what the ZZ Top frontman's middle initial stands for, a long line snaking to the back of the Hancock Center's Twin Liquors for the better part of two hours last Friday prompted a guess of "Flourish," given the guitarist's signing of an estimated 2,000 bottles of Pura Vida. On par with Maynard James Keenan's Merlot, the boutique tequila Gibbons endorses and his large bus in front of the store brought out an Austin Record Convention of vinyl enthusiasts seeking Sharpie authentication. The Houston trio's catalog went well represented (even Afterburner), but the best moment came when Gibbons whipped out his own camera phone to photograph two pint-sized beards dressed up by their parents. Far out.
Such Great Heights
Graham Hudson's new Arthouse at the Jones Center exhibit, "Rehearsal at the Astoria," gives new meaning to the concept of dancing about architecture. The interactive installation at the Seventh and Congress exhibition space, the British artist's first major project in the States, utilizes scaffolding and construction hardware to re-create the essence of the Astoria Theatre, a once-illustrious London venue bulldozed in 2009. The sculpture, which features a stage and a balcony, isn't a monument to the past but an exploration of the temporal state of buildings between near-completion and disrepair, what Hudson calls "a viral condition of a city." "I couldn't have cared less about [the Astoria] until they were knocking it down," Hudson told a small audience at the gallery Saturday afternoon. "Then it had a point, a historical end to it." As part of the free exhibit, which is open through April 10, bands will "rehearse" daily on the stage, making it one of the more unique ways to catch local acts like English Teeth, who rocked the opening last Thursday. Some slots are still available. Interested parties should inquire to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feb. 11 Holy Wave (6pm)
Feb. 12 Stereo Is a Lie (5pm)
Feb. 12 The Sour Notes (6pm)
Feb. 16 Beautiful Supermachines (8pm)
Feb. 17 Tiny Tin Hearts (6pm)
Feb. 18 Mother Falcon (6pm)
Feb. 24 ST 37 (12:15pm)
Feb. 25 Sunset (6pm)
Alex Napier (1951-2011)*
A beacon of the local blues community and longtime bassist for Paul Ray & the Cobras with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Alex Napier succumbed to liver cancer on Thursday, Feb. 3. He was 59. A Dallas-Fort Worth native, Napier also appeared one step ahead of the Austin music scene. In the late 1960s, he was a co-owner of the Rolling Hills Club that later became the Soap Creek Saloon and performed in Southern Feeling with Angela Strehli, W.C. Clark, and Denny Freeman. Napier, who spent his later years working clubs in South America and Spain before returning to care for his mother, was also a founding member of the Leroi Brothers and mentored Charlie and Will Sexton in the Eager Beaver Boys. "Alex was among that first wave of people who moved to Austin in the Sixties and really helped shape what it would become," furthers Freeman. "He was a real character. We had laughs until the end. We all miss him." A private service will be held on Saturday, Feb. 12, in Dallas, and a local tribute is in the works.
Live From Austin, TX
The new Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater was still a hard hat construction area last Wednesday for the venue's VIP Industry Reception. Aside from some unfinished flooring and drapery, the $30 million, 2,700-seat complex in the W Hotel across the street from City Hall should be ready for its opening run, featuring Disney's Imagination Movers (Feb. 10), Cody Canada & the Departed (Feb. 11), a two-night stand with investor/dignitary Willie Nelson (Feb. 13-14), Sweden's pop princess Robyn (Feb. 17), and the sold-out double billing of Los Amigos Invisibles with Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (Feb. 18). ACL Producer Terry Lickona has confirmed that Widespread Panic's South by Southwest appearance on St. Patrick's Day will double as an Austin City Limits taping. The showcase also features the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the New Mastersounds, and SXSW Music Conference keynote speaker Bob Geldof.
"It's really nice to be back in our natural environment, a sports bar," cracked Mike Wiebe at the start of his punk rock comedy (half) hour with Ghost Knife at the Grand last Monday. For more than a year now, the billiards hall on Airport Boulevard has hosted Burger City Rock N Roll Party, a free, weekly pairing of Casual Victim Pile-caliber local acts and DJ/booker Ben Tipton's 7-inch roulette. It's a house party with a liquor license and ample parking. "I'm surprised it's lasted this long," says Tipton, better known as Ben Blackout, who also books at Spiderhouse. "I used to go up there with some buddies after work on Monday nights. I like that it's out of context a bit." While most bands go on around midnight, this week's barhop should start earlier for the Burger City Singles Going Steady Valentine's party, featuring Fleshlights and A Giant Dog. Don't forget your dancing shoes.
Roky Erickson will join the Meat Puppets at the 2010-11 Austin Music Awards at the Austin Music Hall on Saturday, March 19. The Texas psych howler often collaborated with Doug Sahm in the late 1970s, most notably for the single "Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog)" b/w "Starry Eyes," and now Sahm's son, Shandon, anchors the Kirkwood brothers on the Puppets' new album, Lollipop. Along with previously announced acts Sahara Smith, Bubble Puppy, and the Bright Light Social Hour, Joe Ely has been confirmed as a special guest for the reunited Wagoneers.
As even MTV has noted, Austin's open call to rename its Solid Waste Services Department has caused quite a stink, with the runaway frontrunner, the Fred Durst Society of the Humanities and Arts, receiving more than 28,000 votes as of press time. The Limp Bizkit mouthpiece is down with the honor, posting on Twitter: "I know. I love it. Welcome to the now." Voting ends Feb. 10.
After 30 years of faithful service, Griff Luneburg retired from UT-Austin's University Unions on Jan. 31 (see "Blood on the Tracks," Feb. 6, 2009). The move opens up the possibility for the former Cactus Cafe manager and booker to return to KUT and the venue as a part-time employee. Meanwhile, Austin Lounge Lizards co-founder and Folkways co-host Tom Pittman is stepping down from both posts in April and moving with his wife to North Carolina. The Lizards get in one last laugh at the Texas Union Theater on Saturday, Feb. 19.
*Oops: The print version of this story listed Alex Napier's year of birth incorrectly. He was born in September 1951.