Off the Record
By Austin Powell, Fri., May 20, 2011
Promoter Rich Garza likens the Pachanga Latino Music Festival to a really good Mexican restaurant. "Not all the clientele is going to be Mexican," says Garza, who founded the event with Alex Vallejo, "but everyone is enjoying what's going on there." In a city saturated with fests of every stripe, Pachanga has carved out its own niche at Fiesta Gardens. The fourth annual event on Saturday features Ozomatli, Chingo Bling, and Nina Diaz of Girl in a Coma, though Celso Piña was forced to cancel due to visa issues. The festival's success thus far has been largely thanks to Garza's vision and marketing strategy. An Austin native, the 38-year-old promoter attended Brown University and cut his teeth on the HORDE Festival. Hispanic promotions agency Mercury Mambo brought him back to town in late 2005, along with his wife, Elaine, who left HarperCollins Publishers before stints at Spin and Vibe magazine to head the Austin- and New York-based PR powerhouse Giant Noise. Garza also books the Échale Latino Music Estyles series at San Antonio's historic Pearl Brewery, which hosts Pachanga 2011 highlights Chico Mann, Adrian Quesada's the Echocentrics, and Mexicans With Guns. Closer to home, Toy Selectah and Orion, among others, crack the piñata early at the Scoot Inn on Friday, May 20. "Sooner than later, 50 percent of Austin is going to be Hispanic," figures Garza. "It makes sense to roll everything up and present it in a way because it's reflective of the community."
For Austin's Midgetmen, the view's always better from the floor and every passing year's worth celebrating. After all, this group of onetime Trilogy software engineers and graphic designers banded together for the simple purpose of scoring drink tickets and landing on bills with its disheveled 1980s DIY guitar heroes like Dinosaur Jr. and Pavement. Nine years later, the local fourpiece finally played Emo's outdoor stage last month opening for Titus Andronicus and released its fourth and best album, Loud Enough, an aptly titled collection of white-collar pub-rock. To commemorate both occasions, the Midgetmen host and headline a two-stage, eight-band bash at Mohawk on Friday that includes La Snacks, San Saba County, the Sour Notes, the Shells, and the Blistering Speeds. "In general, most bands in Austin give up too quickly," offers bassist Marc Perlman. "They play for two years, don't get famous or asked to play Fun Fun Fun Fest, and they pack it in. More bands should just keep on doing it. We don't have any expectations that it will go any further that it has. That we get to open for Titus Andronicus is just gravy."
Songs in the Key of Life
To borrow a line from headliner Kanye West, the lineup for the 2011 Austin City Limits Music Festival is so ridiculous. Slated for Zilker Park, Sept. 16-18, the 10th anniversary edition boasts incomparable Motown titan Stevie Wonder, recent Backyard visitors and Grammy winners Arcade Fire, 2005 closer Coldplay, and My Morning Jacket, who'll likely guest with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band & the Del McCoury Band. C3 Presents should be seriously applauded for its unprecedented hip-hop bookings, including Nas & Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, Big Boi, Santigold, Cee Lo Green, and, of course, Mr. West, who's making only his fifth appearance since the 2010 release of his fractured opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. No matter how you slice it, ACL 2011 triumphs, with classic leading ladies (Alison Krauss & Union Station, Mavis Staples, Wanda Jackson), South by Southwest breakthroughs (Twin Shadow, James Blake, and Daptone's latest discovery, Charles Bradley), and left-field gets (Randy Newman, Daniel Lanois' Black Dub, Elbow). And that still only scratches the surface. View the full lineup at austinchronicle.com/earache. At press time, some Sunday and VIP passes were still available.
Just after last week's issue went to press, OTR learned that local DJ Wolfgang Gartner is headed back to California in June. "It's a long overdue move," relays Gartner via email (see "You're a Woman, I'm a Machine," May 13). "[It's] closer to family, and in the middle of the thriving music mecca right now that is L.A." At least now maybe the Grammy-nominated producer will finally gig in Austin.
New Bohemians drummer Brandon Aly doubles as the assistant band director at Blanco High School. The music program there had $15,000 embezzled a few years back from band boosters and never quite recovered. Edie Brickell & New Bohemians host a benefit on Saturday at Yett Memorial Park in Blanco with Bobby Mack and Zydeco Blanco, among others, at 2pm.
Darden Smith will be presenting his creative initiative, the Be an Artist Program, at six area schools, beginning May 23 at Acton Academy. That's after the local troubadour performs at Keith Kachtick's Dharma Yoga on Sunday, 2-5pm, a benefit for the Tibet Fund. Learn more at www.thebeanartistprogram.com.
Rattletree Marimba leader Joel Laviolette would like to build a full marimba set for the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a three-month process that could cost up to $8,000. His Kickstarter campaign to support the endeavor (www.kck.st/i1lVLY) closes on May 27. "This is such a cool opportunity to be involved with something so much bigger than my own musical pursuits," says Laviolette, a scholar of traditional Zimbabwean music.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the new installment of Johnny Depp's seafaring franchise, can mean only one thing: the return of the Jolly Garogers. The local pirate crew has "morphed into a pop/funk/techno band," according to captain Phil Nitch, and hosts a best-dressed pirate and wench contest at its Antone's gig tonight, Thursday, May 19. The winner takes home two tickets to catch the film.
Nakia overpowered his local opponent Tje Austin on NBC's The Voice on Tuesday night, with his coach Cee Lo Green calling the local blues belter "the real extension of my good tastes." Nakia returns to the show for the live rounds in June. Download the competitors' duet on Ne-Yo's "Closer" at tw.itunes.com/u1S.
Scott H. Biram's not worried about performing on the prophesied Judgment Day, Saturday, at Red Eyed Fly. The local hell-raiser already brushed with death and has plenty to look forward to, including "68mins of what some people might call music" for his next Bloodshot Record, tentatively titled Bad Ingredients. The album pulls extensively from his archives, with what Biram calls "stalker/prowler, drivin' 'round after midnight kinda stuff."