Playback: Margaret Moser’s Final Act
Margaret Moser tribute concert, following Black Fret's money, and a last chance to nominate locals in the Austin Music Poll – this week!
I'm in no hurry to write my last will and testament, but for the sake of documentation, if the Reaper sneaks up on me, I want my girlfriend to look after the dog, my friends to fight over my records, and my mandolin buried with me. You see, wills are for people with assets that wouldn't likely be dumped off in a trash bag outside Goodwill. I'm more concerned with my memorial concert.
What if you got to plan your own memorial concert? Who would play and what songs would they perform? Terminally ill singer-songwriter Jimmy LaFave assembled 21 best friends for a tender set of his songs and covers at the Paramount Theatre in May, then died three days later. Transcendent journalist, scenester, and groupie Margaret Moser, who checked out in August after a bout with cancer that ultimately played out more like a victory lap, took the idea one step further: planning her own musical wake in detail, then scheduling it posthumously so she could have the best seat in the house.
The 63-year-old Austin music community matriarch handpicked the location – Antone's, where Lady Gaga materialized Tuesday night after a sold-out Erwin Center show for a surprise appearance with frequent collaborator Brian Newman – the charitable beneficiaries (SIMS, Girls Rock Camp, her beloved South Texas Museum of Popular Culture), and two of her vocational sons, who she'd been fawning over since they were teens trading Wednesdays at Club Foot, as bandleaders: Charlie Sexton and Monte Warden.
Musicians she told them to summon evidence her identity through the homegrown scene: Joe Ely, Kelly Willis, Kathy Valentine, Rosie Flores, Jesse Sublett, Chip Kinman, and more.
"No one got invited, no one solicited themselves," says Warden of the lineup. "It all just happened organically."
Friends, family, and fans show Margaret off this Sunday, 2-6pm, at Antone's. Tickets, $20, are available now.
Black Fret: Where's the Money Go?
Homegrown music patronage nonprofit Black Fret has awarded over half a million dollars to Austin musicians in the last three years. During this Saturday's Black Fret Ball at the Paramount Theatre, they'll bestow another $200,000 on nominated artists as voted by their body of donors. What exactly does this money help musicians accomplish? Let's ask last year's $17,000 grant winners.
Ray Prim: "It was a shot in the arm," says the soulful songwriter who was ready to give up on his 25-year music career before getting nominated for a Black Fret grant. Instead, he recorded and released September's To Whom It May Concern.
Walker Lukens: The abstract pop/rock song charmer put some new rubber on his van and toured to faraway lands like NYC, but "the majority of it went to pay my band, which is the greatest thing in the world."
Wendy Colonna: "You have to get the record out before you get the baby out or the record will never come out," revealed the singer-songwriter, who used her Black Fret windfall to pay for mastering, packaging, promotion, and a video for her album, No Moment but Now, which arrived shortly before her son Charlie.
Dan Dyer: Folk crier could finally afford to make his soon-to-be-released dream album, recorded at Arlyn Studios with Band of Heathens as the band and Beau Bedford from Texas Gentlemen producing.
Suzanna Choffel: "It put a fire under my butt to create more," says the folk-pop songstress who unlocked grant money by demo-ing songs, then used the money to hire a publicist, manufacture CDs and vinyl, and release this year's Hello Goodbye.
Bee Caves: "It all went into the studio costs of finishing our upcoming album that'll be released in 2018," reveals the lush indie rock act's frontman Reed Calhoun.
Nakia: The CeeLo-verified soul belter used the grant as tour support for a run of shows in Spain and released an outtakes album, Wine to Water, on CD and vinyl. "It's nice to have Black Fret right now when the record industry is such a shitshow," he smiles.
Carson McHone: "Instead of shopping my grand idea of an album, I was able to make an album to shop to labels, which gave me artistic control," says the country songstress, who used her grant money to record with Spoon/Patty Griffin producer Mike McCarthy in Nashville.
Austin Music Poll Nominations Tick Down
Showing total disregard for voter ID laws, "Playback" set up an impromptu voting booth at Saturnalia last weekend and collected dozens of ballots for the Austin Music Poll. It was heartening to watch first-time voters and old heads gleefully logging their favorite bands on paper ballots and was a reminder that we do this not to edify our own publication, but to give the community a voice. On the election board, I get to peep the ballots. Here are a few of my favorite takeaways from entries that got multiple votes from festers:
Best Electronic: Capyac
Best Metal: Bridge Farmers
Best Poster: Fez Moreno
Best Female Vocalist: Lindsey Verrill
Best Club Lighting: Electric Church
Best World Music: Continental Drift
Best Radio DJ: John Aielli, KUTX
Best Venue: Sahara Lounge
Best Rock: Think No Think
Best Guitar: Jim Campo (Magic Rockers of Texas)
Best Radio Station: KVRX
The primary round of write-ins ends Monday at midnight, so if you haven't voted yet, get on it. A second round of nominations, mixing fan picks with expert intel, debuts Jan. 5.
Saturnalia Was a Blast: Host band Golden Dawn Arkestra harnessed interplanetary power for a stunning set of psychedelic Afro-disco, buoyed by the coincidental special effect of an airplane leaving a fat contrail cloud hovering over the Webberville Road Baptist Church grounds. Other hometown standouts included Big Bill frontman Eric Braden testing the limits of his wireless mic with phenomenal inter-audience prancing, Money Chicha entrancing a packed Sahara Lounge with fuzzed-out Peruvian grooves, and Amplified Heat lighting East Austin aflame with a brotherly blend of Motörhead, Hendrix, and MC5. Austin transplants also provided highlights, with Bushwick Bill making up for his Friday absence with three sets, including a 3am Electric Church gig on Saturday and a long freestyle over local psychedelic synth intrigue Palm Daze on Sunday. Meanwhile, new Austinite Sam France of Foxygen offered an Andy Kaufman-like spoken word set including religious evangelism and music industry ranting. Pre-parties on Thursday and Friday hit capacity, while attendance proved modest during the day on Saturday and Sunday, but the debut exhibited a stellar location, great vibes, and something concrete to build on.
A slow-moving bidding war on eBay has the Parish auction up to $250,100 with five days left. Winner gets the brand plus a 12-year lease, with base rent starting at $9,667 at its long-held Sixth Street location. Meanwhile, surrealist disco gang Capyac has upstaged that auction with their own eBay listing, selling all their assets including the band members. Bidding currently stands at $117.50.
Levitation Fest dropped its lineup today, including shows headlined by Electric Wizard, Slowdive, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Black Angels, and Ministry. The psych event, running April 26-29 at Red River venues plus Emo's, rebuilds after weather canceled the 2016 iteration and they took this year off. 2018 returns as an à la carte series of individually ticketed shows rather than a buffet-style festival. See a full list of shows on our daily music blog.
Stylus skipping? Preamp uncertainty? Have no idea what those numbers on your tonearm mean? Waterloo Records hosts a free turntable workshop on Tuesday at 7pm, when you learn from experts how to get the best sound from your setup.