Playback: Meet the New Texas Music Czar

New Texas Music Office director, new Rock N Roll Rentals branch, and a new Foot Patrol fetish!

Brendon Anthony onstage with Pat Green in 2004
Brendon Anthony onstage with Pat Green in 2004 (Photo by Gary Miller)

A professional fiddler with experience in music-related e-commerce has assumed leadership of the Texas Music Office. Brendon Anthony, 38, whose résumé includes a long tenure touring in Pat Green's band and playing on several Cory Morrow albums, takes the reigns from Casey Monahan, director of the office since its creation in 1990.

In politically left-leaning Travis County, which Rick Perry once described as "the blueberry in the bowl of tomato soup of what is Texas," anyone appointed by new Gov. Greg Abbott has work to do in winning over locals. The Abbott administration already offended Austin's music cognoscenti by selecting Nashville pop trash Lady Antebellum to headline the inaugural. No surprise, then, that cries of Republican cronyism welcome the appointee of Abbott's Chief of Staff Daniel Hodge, who Anthony described as one of his closest friends in a 2014 New York Times story. Holster any such outrage given that politics and nepotism go hand-in-hand, now and forever.

Late into his first government shift on Monday, Anthony picked up the office phone and fielded my question of what he wants the TMO to accomplish in 2015.

"I want to continue the programs that Casey Monahan put in place. He's a force and we want to carry on what he started," states Anthony, who also noted an upcoming meeting with the administration's Economic Development to help him formulate specific goals – likely centered on bringing music jobs to the state. "With the blessing of the governor's office we can do some community outreach via social and other digital means that will help connect the community more."

Anthony hopes to apply technology know-how he honed while working for the last five years with One Live Media, which began as a ticketing platform for Texas venues before shifting to an e-commerce focus. They weathered criticism in December when the Better Business Bureau published an investigation into the company after receiving nearly three-dozen complaints from customers over a two-week span and over 100 inquiries over 30 days. Those complaints generally allege that customers paid for band merch handled by One Live and never received it.

Anthony didn't return a follow-up call regarding the matter.

And since he mentioned social media, it's notable that accounts like @WindoMobileXRR, which shared the Texas Tribune story abut Anthony, are drones of sort, programmed solely to rebroadcast tweets for promotional benefit. His love of Texas fiddle players appears genuine – including his favorites.

"Johnny Gimble. I got really lucky to play on a record with him once and that blew my mind. Apart from being one of the coolest fiddle players you'll ever hear, Gimble's also one of the most amazing human beings in the world," Anthony lauded. "Then, man, I gotta say, one of the guys here in town ... Warren Hood.

"When I was young and stupid, I thought I knew what I was doing. Then I went and played a jam with the South Austin Jug Band guys and Warren showed up. He did stuff that made me put the fiddle down for a while."

Rock N Roll Rentals Expands

Jim Norman
Jim Norman (Photo by John Anderson)

As a musician, you'll likely never own everything you need, but when the job calls for compressors in recording drums, Space Echo pedals for your new psych rock band, or a PA for that warehouse show, call Rock N Roll Rentals. Last week, the local gear lender opened a second store at 8335 Burnet Rd. Customers used to the warehouse-like interior of the Oltorf shop will be agog over the slick showroom Jim Norman planned for over a year.

"The business was growing and we either needed a much bigger place or another location," says the owner, who founded Rock N Roll Rentals in 1989. "What we discovered is that a lot of our customers lived up north. So that, coupled with the famous traffic in Austin, made us realize we had to go north."

Rock N Roll Rentals' prices are low – I borrowed an overdrive pedal last weekend for $6 – and volume is high. At any visit, you'll be surrounded by DJs renting speakers, rockers rolling out amps, and suits scrounging projectors for corporate presentations. It may be the smartest music store in town because it caters not only to musicians, but to Austin's multitudes of event planners.

"Austin isn't really a town anymore. It's a big, giant events center and we all work for it," Norman chuckles. "They should put a big glass dome over it."

And it never gets crazier than during South by Southwest. The calls started coming in last month, so now the phone's ringing off the wall, and during the festival it's busier than Walmart on government check day.

"South by Southwest predicates everything," says Norman. "I order a lot of equipment, rent it all during the event, then digest it over the rest all year."

This fall marks Rock N Roll Rentals' 26th year in business. Norman chalks up its success and survival to adapting with the shifting needs of its customers, and in the case of the location, growing with Austin.

"This business is dynamic," he says. "Every year it's different."

Foot Patrol Kicks Back

Hung Nguyen (l) and TJ Wade of Foot Patrol
Hung Nguyen (l) and TJ Wade of Foot Patrol (Photo by John Anderson)

Bassist Hung Nguyen calls it his "Edison Moment," the revelation that funk music and the foot fetish of his friend, blind keyboard virtuoso TJ Wade, would make the perfect pair. That was a decade ago and ever since, Foot Patrol has kept Austin on its toes with feel-good-feet-worship funk. The unlikely premise yields a stellar sixth album, KTOES, arriving locally with a performance at Hops & Grain (500 Calles) on Saturday at 5pm.

Austin Chronicle: Tell us about KTOES.

Hung Nguyen: It's a fantasy radio station, kind of an old-school FM signal from the days before bland corporate radio, with entertainment for your ears like skits and colorful deejays. It's like you're tuned in to our program.

AC: Has it become difficult, after six discs, to continuing writing lyrics about foot fetishes?

HN: Fatigue is really the only factor. At some point, you have to draw the line because the theme is an endless fountain of material.

TJ Wade: This album's got some songs that aren't about feet!

AC: Foot Patrol occasionally performs the Purple Rain soundtrack. Have you ever imagined what Prince's feet are like?

TJ: Well yeah. I think they're soft and the ladies enjoy that, because they're for ladies only.

AC: Do female fans request foot rubs from you?

TJ: They sure do.

AC: How does KTOES stack up to other Foot Patrol output?

TJ: It's got more naughty foot fetishism lyrics, funkier grooves, and it's a whole lot better than Pussyfooting in my opinion. I was shy on the other records. Now I'm trying to do a lot more with my voice.

Half Notes

Health Alliance for Austin Musicians is holding a poster contest for its HAAM Benefit Day and Corporate Battle of the Bands events. First prize wins $300, tickets to Fun Fun Fun Fest, Beats Solo headphones, and backstage passes to the All ATX concert. Submissions are due Feb. 19. See for details.

Tim Kerr's painting will be featured at the Bearded Lady Gallery (3504 E. Fourth) beginning this Saturday with an opening reception 6-9pm. The guitarist of Big Boys and Poison 13 fame painted the "Here and Now" series, which features likenesses of musicians, artists, and activists, on reclaimed wood assembled by Brian Phillips. Kerr's art can also be seen at the North Door (502 Brushy), which includes a six-panel mural with likenesses of Mance Lipscomb and Charlie Parker for a recent venue redesign.

Austin City Limits inducts Loretta Lynn, Guy Clark, Flaco Jiménez, Asleep at the Wheel, and Townes Van Zandt into its Hall of Fame at a ceremony and concert in mid-June. The KLRU concert staple also announced Sturgill Simpson, the War on Drugs, and Asleep at the Wheel will all tape performances for season 41. Wheel leader Ray Benson said his 12th ACL appearance would take place this month and feature the Avett Brothers and Amos Lee, foreshadowing a collaborative album of Bob Wills covers, Still the King, out March 3.

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Brendon Anthony, Casey Monahan, Johnny Gimble, Warren Hood, Rock N Roll Rentals, Jim Norman, Foot Patrol, TJ Wade, Tim Kerr, Ray Benson

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