by Tracy Anne Hart
Texas A&M University Press, 168 pp., $35
If video killed the radio star – which ... it didn't – what hath the internet age inflicted on the picture book? As what passes for civilization lives and dies by the light of LED screens, can a photograph in a bound volume still speak 1,000 words? And who's building terrestrial libraries when the iCloud covers all?
Images by Houston photographer Tracy Anne Hart make a case for the concept of personal storage capacity being more complex than we might believe.
In truth, her iconic Stevie Ray Vaughan trove bundles tightly – concentrated on 50 pages mid-book. The before opens into forwards by a pair of Austin stringers, Eric Tessmer ("Stevie Ray Vaughan was the best friend I never had") and David Grissom ("Hearing his flawless time and endless stream of ideas laid bare was stunning"), then comes a generous influences section led off by a dozen pages dedicated to Jimmie Vaughan. Those images alone make an open-and-shut case for a companion piece on the subject's older brother, crossing Elvis Presley (the cowlick) with Marlon Brando's The Wild One (inscrutable pout).
Buddy Guy, Albert King, Albert Collins, Doyle Bramhall, and Lonnie Mack follow, while the last third of Seeing Stevie Ray devotes to the late Austinite's legacy: Arc Angels, Doyle Bramhall II, Ian Moore, Tessmer. "I have no illusions about my talent as a writer," prefaces Hart, but she executes a swift, worthy narrative from beginning to end. Her own personal reveal toward the end of the book closes a cosmic circle that makes perfect sense.
Which leaves that image of SRV on page 30, backstage at Baytown's Fitzgerald's in 1983 ("First time I met Stevie he was sitting on a couch backstage"). At the opposite end of the SRV center, Hart writes, "I never took too many offstage pictures of Stevie," but that couch shot is IT. Think of the movies where the hero or villain dies, and in death all the weight of life suddenly erases from their face to reveal the pure, youthful, unfiltered self. Another photo from the same year comes close, but already a Texan guardedness fills Vaughan's eyes.
Shots of SRV in early "Clint Eastwood" guise leap out for their sheer physicality, as does the Keith Ferguson head-wrap series that follows, and the Joe Ely interface at the end. In these pixels, the music verges on deafening, but more pointedly, if you ever lost yourself in the maelstroms and slipstreams of Texas Flood, Couldn't Stand the Weather, or In Step, these photographs will burn into your frontal lobe. Pure image endures in the minds of those exposed. – Raoul Hernandez
www.prideinlocalmusic.com, Friday 26, 6pm
Despite COVID-19 killing the sale of Block 21 to Ryman Hospitality Properties last month – the folks that oversee the Grand Ole Opry would've taken over ACL Live at the Moody Theater – any alignment between Austin and Nashville makes good horse sense. Consider the talent cull between both music capitals' LGBT Chambers of Commerce as underwritten by Austin's Dell: Gina Chavez, Alesia Lani, Mama Duke, Shirley Zhu's Fuvk, and Nakia for the home "T" matched with Maggie Rose, Tayls, Joy Oladokun, Alanna Royale, Jaime Wyatt, and Brody Ray repping "T" for Tennessee. Beneficiaries include the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians and its Nashville counterpart, Music Health Alliance. – Raoul Hernandez
After years in the local hip-hop scene, Kori Duke offered first single "Mad" across platforms as Mama Duke in March. A video followed last week for the self-assured celebration of queer confidence, with lyrics playfully bashing male bravado. Duke's mellow, melodic style delivers: "My girl be callin' me daddy, but she just playin' around." Footage of the recording at Austin's 5th Street Studios glimpses cheery charisma by the host of livestream show ATX Social Club alongside footage at Dallas' giant eyeball sculpture. Beats from Super Thief's Cody Kimbell support the alluring track. – Rachel Rascoe
Apple Music, Spotify
Dat Boy Supa, who gained Chronicle acclaim for 2014's blaxploitation-influenced SupaCabra, left Austin for his hometown of Dallas. In search of change and a creative spark, the rapper born Justin Porter reached back into Cap City's production well and pulled out the sonic bombast of CasinoATX (Malcolm Richardson). The nine-track AfroFuturistic, an explosive album of pro-Blackness, captures a music relationship forged through adversity, says the MC, noting he "wasn't ready to jump back in solo." Continues Porter: "We were both going through some tough times personally and decided a good way to work through it all would be to start writing again." – Kahron Spearman
On April 22, without warning, Los Angeles punk standard-bearers X early released the first studio full-length from their original lineup in 35 years, Alphabetland. Cut across two sessions in November 2018 and this January with producer Rob Schnapf, highlights include three bangers previously only heard as demos: "I Gotta Fever," "Cyrano DeBerger's Back," and the galloping nearly hardcore of "Delta 88 Nightmare." Combined with the eight more recent John Doe and Exene Cervenka compositions (the former now a local dweller), it's classic X, bristling with the front duo's raw street poetry and Gregorian chant harmonies, Billy Zoom's rockabilly guitar heroics, and DJ Bonebrake's orchestral drums. File alongside the first four LPs. – Tim Stegall
Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, Friday 26, 9pm
Picking up the pieces of tours wiped from the slate, Austin darkwave/industrial principal Curse Mackey retools his 2019 solo debut into a livestream premiere. Instant Exorcism featured a spot of guest guitar work from Ronny Moorings, whose Clan of Xymox called upon Mackey as an opener on their most recent tour, playing the last in-person show at 3ten ACL Live to a sold-out crowd on March 12. Live Exorcism finds the Pigface/My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult constituent performing select cuts from the platter, along with hosting a live chat with fans, post-performance Q&A, and a virtual look at the virtuoso's tangible art creations. – Greg Stitt
In some lyrical circumstances, masking with metaphor works best. Other times, a devastating literal turn gets the job done. Pure emotional wreckage and smeared makeup power Datura's single preceding her Nine Mile Records debut. "Are you really gonna leave like this?/ You know I'm sitting here a fuckin' mess/ I'm crying in the hotel lobby," sings smoky singer and pianist Jessica Pyrdsa, before adding the slap: "And you forgot my birthday!" Co-founder of Jazz Kween and organizer of Austin's annual Tom Waits hoot night, she exudes heartbreak in a video from Hollie Hart. – Kevin Curtin
Apple Music, Spotify
Austin outfit Margaret Chavez spins behind Marcus William Striplin's ambitious Latin "freak-folk rhythms" via singular songwriting on "Into an Atmosphere," the breezy and aching first single from his forthcoming eponymous LP. Similar to the project's remarkable 2018 debut, A Loupe, neither folk nor Americana appears to be the proper designation for this track. Sure, it employs reverb guitars and lively acoustic plucks, but soulful tinges dot Striplin's deep pangs of resignation, longing, and loss: "And for once, I can agree: There's no water left in this well." – Kahron Spearman
Diversity on the inaugural comp from Austin Musicians for Transformative Justice succeeds in amplifying BIPOC voices, combining an array of underrecognized artists with heavy hitters like Brownout's gritty grooving "Evolver" and stellar live blast of Tomar & the FCs' "Rise Above." Organized by Ley Line's Kate Robberson and Superfónicos' Nicolas Sánchez Castro, and benefiting the Austin Justice Coalition, standouts among the 16 tracks range from Leti Garza's powerful "La Esperanza" and Frederico7's warped "Exótico Americano" to the wild rumble of Trouble in the Streets' "Mad Science" and mesmerizing Arabian pull of Atlas Maior and Ali Pervez Mehdi on "Nazuk." – Doug Freeman
A live capture of Spoon's anthemic "Inside Out" kicks off a whopping 41 locally sourced tracks curated by Austin Town Hall, Big Bill's Eric Braden, and Howdy Gals. Dark garage trio Nevil get nihilistic on live set standout "Existential Bread," while Christelle Bofale's "Skipping Stones" re-creates the magic of when her band takes a break onstage. Quarantine recordings force pleasantly understated sides of Austin projects, like Megz Kelli of Magna Carda's quick raps over a piano loop, Santiago Dietche of Daphne Tunes' soft strums around a drum machine, and Lou Rebecca's lullaby tribute to Sixties musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort. The most impressive pivot is "Waze," tapping the gentle side of hip-hop lead the Teeta with padded, jazz-touched production by local SoundCloud breakout Wiardon. – Rachel Rascoe
Threadgill's & www.burleyauction.com, Saturday 27, 10am
Garage sale? Artifacts and ephemera accumulated by Armadillo/Threadgill's owner Eddie Wilson over the past four decades merit a fast-talking auctioneer taking bids. Follow-up to their frenzied 2015 sell-off, Wilson and wife Sandra, who shuttered their Southern-style eatery in April, now release a mother lode: neon signs including the T-gill's "Home Cooking" marquee, Jim Franklin concert posters and paintings, Janis Joplin memorabilia, vintage beer promo, Burton Wilson photos, a Willie Nelson platinum record, and all the restaurant's equipment. Bid online or in-person. – Kevin Curtin
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