Playback: Trailer Space Closing October 31
Venue first, clubhouse second, and record store third. Trailer Space's constant free, all-ages concerts filled a void for up-and-coming Austin acts.
"Trailer Space is a slug," offers its proprietor, Spot Long, between shots of Jameson from behind the counter at the Eastside record store. "You can pee on slugs and you put salt on them, but you can't move them."
Thus, Long won't consider relocating his beloved clubhouse, which closes at the end of the month. According to Long, the proprietors of neighboring business East Side Pies have acquired the property from his landlord Gene Mays and will expand into the space.
"When Gene sold the property to East Side Pies, he gave me an extension till next May," reveals Long. "Then I realized that maybe I'm a little tired – weary perhaps. I've been doing this every day for eight or nine years."
Long's vision was to create an open space for the community to use. Trailer Space originated as an event center in a Cesar Chavez warehouse in 2006, but was plagued by city ordinances and never officially opened. He signed the lease on 1401 Rosewood in fall 2007 and opened his record store during South by Southwest the next year with a performance by Canadian punks Fucked Up.
Ever since, it's been known as a venue first, clubhouse second, and record store third. With constant free, all-ages concerts, Trailer Space has provided a playground for local veterans including Golden Boys and teenage bands like the Grundles. For new acts, Trailer Space exists as a key entry point into the live music landscape.
"It's like open mic night, you just have to call and give us the band names," says the 48-year-old former Waterloo Records employee.
The unrestricted inclusivity of his booking strategy is dually reflected in the shop's open-door vibe, which has garnered a motley crew of regulars comprised of musicians, old cats from the neighborhood, high schoolers, and volunteer employees.
"Where will all the misfit toys island now?" asks Coma in Algiers' Ismael Ricardo Archbold, who works, performs, and hangs at Trailer Space. "It's how I got to know large swaths of Austin's underground – noise, punk, pop, hip-hop, weird shit, everything and everyone. It's how lots of us got to know each other."
Archbold is amongst those Long credits for Trailer Space's epic run. There's also J.J. Ruiz, Nay Nay Arbeitman, Graham Lowe, Evan Hendrix, Philip Sambol, and Carlos "Mex-Mode."
"All those people have helped me or worked for free because they believed in the shop or they love me," shrugs Long. "Maybe both. I'm rich beyond belief in life. Trailer Space isn't about money – maybe it should have been. I'm not gonna struggle to keep it open just to close it. I decided not to do that. I lost that eye of the tiger, so to speak, but I had a lot of fun and I'm going out on my own terms. To me, that's success."
As for a going-out-of-business sale ....
"Those fuckers never bought anything from me anyway. They can pay the same price! But my records are cheap. Anyway, we're a personality-driven business!"
Read Spot's exit interview on Chronicle Music blog Earache! at austinchronicle.com/earache.
Mike & the Moonpies Hatch Mockingbird
Mike Harmeier started playing guitar at age 7 and drank his first beer at 13. Smack-dab in between those milestones, the future Mike & the Moonpies frontman began his live music career as a kid in Houston who'd regularly jump onstage with Brian Black, older brother to country star Clint Black, and sing "Desperado" – always "Desperado."
"It was brutal, now that I think about it," laughs Harmeier. "I can't believe I asked them to do that. I feel bad Brian had to tell the band, 'Ah that kid's coming again, you have to learn "Desperado."
"I'm never going to play that song again."
The local songwriter's growing catalog ensures that promise (revisit "The Real Country," Aug. 9, 2013). This month, Harmeier's burgeoning honky-tonk outfit released its prestige-enhancing third LP, Mockingbird. As rugged and slick as a pair of snakeskin boots, the Moonpies' latest packs elaborate arrangements and sonic cojones into 10 ace tracks about family, heartbreak, and life on the country circuit. It's his strongest outing as a songwriter, penning jukebox-worthy material like heart-spurned Carson McHone duet "I Don't Love You" and the lonesome "Miserable Man."
Here in the hometown, the Moonpies are all but synonymous with two-stepping, drawing throngs of movers to every boot-scuffed dance floor they cross. Like any act known foremost as a live entity, they face a challenge of earning respect as recording artists.
"It's my No. 1 concern about the direction of the band," Harmeier allows. "We're a dance hall band and it works really well for us, but at the same time I want to write the songs I like and I don't want to tailor-make it for a dance hall. I want to write songs that work in a listening room too. That's what this record is for."
Mike & the Moonpies have two local release shows this week: tonight (Thursday) at the White Horse and Sunday at Waterloo Records for a 5pm in-store.
Dave Hermann 1962-2015
Cavity Club kick-started the Nineties on Red River. That lawless, BYOB hangout, preceding fellow punk clubs Emo's and Blue Flamingo, had a skate ramp in the back and hosted G.G. Allin's notorious 1992 local concert, at which the feces-throwing rocker was famously arrested. At the helm of the madness was Dave Hermann, who died in Mexico on Monday, Oct. 5, at age 53.
"There were a lot of things going on at that club that were completely underground that could not happen anywhere else, period," Hermann recently told interviewers for the upcoming Curious Mix of People documentary.
Solid information on Hermann's death is scarce, but the Cavity Facebook page reports that he died following an asthma attack while in Querétaro and was buried in Zihuatanejo, which is near the bed & breakfast he'd operated for the past several years.
A public memorial for Hermann is planned for this Sunday, 2pm, at the Zilker Rock Garden.
Stargayzer Fest amasses cutting-edge artists from the hip-hop, punk, and electronic corners of the queer triangle for this weekend's second annual convergence. Attractions at the fest, running at Elysium (Thursday), the North Door (Friday), and Cheer Up Charlies (Saturday), include experimental post-punks Erase Errata, Bollywood/bhangra producer DJ Rekha, and femcees TT the Artist and Dai Burger. "Stargayzer demonstrates what an incredibly broad contribution our community gives to the entertainment industry," says organizer Brett Hornsby. Locally, Stargayzer highlights the jazzy hip-hop of Magna Carda, feminist punks Feral Future, trash vixen Christeene, and New Wave weirdos Big Bill. Weekend wristbands are $35, individual shows $15.
Nutty Brown Cafe concludes a tradition this Sunday with a final jazz brunch. Paul Hollis, whose group Java Jazz has serenaded brunchers for 11 years, confirms the gig is up and he worries it may mean the restaurant could announce its closure soon. "I hate to see places like that go away – it's such a vintage vibe," says Hollis. "It was the ultimate gig for feeling free." The Nutty Brown's property was sold to H-E-B early this year, and the owners eventually plan to relocate the venue's amphitheatre to Round Rock.
Texas State University professor Cindy Royal has filed an open records request with the city of Austin seeking the Austin Music Census' quantitative data, which she hopes students in her Coding and Data Skills for Communicators course can use to pursue further analysis. Titan Music Group's Nikki Rowling won't make public the raw data collected for the survey, citing privacy concerns for respondents. Royal says the decision is in the city's hands and has no plans to take further action. Rowling, meanwhile, maintains that as a private third-party consultant, she won't have to turn over the materials unless someone successfully sues her.
A Giant Dog has inked a deal with Merge Records. The glammy Austin quintet, led by Andrew Cashen and Sabrina Ellis, releases its Mike McCarthy-produced third LP, Pile – featuring a cameo from Spoon's Britt Daniel – in 2016. Label founder and Superchunk bandleader Mac McCaughan bit on the locals after catching them in Chapel Hill last April.