New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to
By Tim Stegall, Jay Trachtenberg, Michael Toland, Raoul Hernandez, Derek Udensi, Doug Freeman, and Kevin Curtin, Fri., Dec. 18, 2020
A Tribute to Really Red: Teaching You the Fear ... Again
Alongside Austin's Dicks and Big Boys, Houston's Really Red proved as integral to early-Eighties American punk culture as Black Flag or Dead Kennedys. Lasting 1978-85, the aggregation of singer/frontman Ronnie "U-Ron Bondage" Bond, drummer Bob Weber, guitarist Kelly Younger, and bassist John Paul Williams rarely followed regulation punk templates. Old enough to recall Texas psychedelia on ramalama like "Crowd Control," their trace elements of art-damaged funk and blues seeped into – from 1981 onward – the band's ballistic thrashing à la Bad Brains on tracks such as "I Was a Teenage Fuckup."
Meanwhile, Bond's lyrics engage race, sexuality, police brutality, and resistance to authoritarianism. "Take one Black man sitting on his own front porch/ Snipers on the roof of a church looking through their scopes," he snarls on "Teaching You the Fear." "Take one Chicano with hands cuffed behind his back/ Toss him in the bayou, watch him sink like a rat." The singer owes Houston's vicious Eighties police force royalties for the subject matter and rage.
A Tribute to Really Red: Teaching You the Fear ... Again now emerges via the band's revived C.I.A Records. Alan "Bud Horne" Villareal, longtime drummer for Austin's Jesus Christ Superfly (who cover "Nobody Rules!") and singer for homegrown comedycore outfit All Opposed (purveyors of "Little Death" here) dreamt it up. In a Facebook post, he secured Weber's involvement, then recruited contemporary ATX combos Worm Suicide (a blistering "Teenage Fuckup"), Stillhouse Howlers (backporch banjo plucker "Bar-B-Cue"), and Dallas' Prof. Fuzz 63 ("Nico").
Weber's clout got the Dicks to re-form to recut "Too Political?" besides also drawing veterans including Hickoids ("Starvation Dance"), Mudhoney ("Aim Tastes Good"), and Hamell on Trial, Jello Biafra, and the Bellrays all contributing wildly different takes on "Teaching You the Fear." A 2-CD comp features 34 tracks, while the double LP ups the ante to 39. A digital download encompasses the project's 41-song entirety.
Covering 1979's "Modern Needs" in collaboration with the Inflatable Baptists, one of Austin's best contemporary punk bands, I felt honored to contribute. Co-founder of my longtime band the Hormones, bassist Ron Williams alongside MC5 dogfight guitarist Dru Wilson and beat-keeper Wes Cummings with his 1978 Clash swagger sessioned at Dale Watson's Ameripolitan Studios for all-star producer/engineer Cris Burns. What emerged from the burning embers of historic Lone Star punk placed second on all formats. – Tim Stegall
Tomás Ramírez GoFundMe Campaign
For five decades, saxophonist Tomás Ramírez blew a ubiquitous presence in Austin. The self-proclaimed "Jazzmanian Devil" stretches a career from founding membership in the Lost Gonzo Band backing Jerry Jeff Walker to his pre-pandemic residency at the Elephant Room, a venue he christened in 1991. In between stacks 11 Austin Music Awards, acclaimed albums, and stints with Beto & the Fairlanes, Christopher Cross, Texana Dames, and countless others. Now, in this most horrific of years, Ramírez suffered a stroke battling the ravages of COVID-19. Thanks to longtime jazz compadre Mike Mordecai of BBA Booking and the Austin Jazz Society, a GoFundMe account is up and running to help Ramírez defray hospital and rehab costs. Get well, hermano. – Jay Trachtenberg
Monks Jazz Best of Project Safety Net livestreams
Closing in on 100 shows, local pianist Collin Shook continues advancing the cause of jazz in Austin with his four-year-old series Monks Jazz Club. Since May, the pop-up concert specialist joined the long-running Austin Jazz Society for Project Safety Net, helping raise over $86,000 to help gigless musicians during pandemic. Streaming from Shook's East Austin Piano Shop, the shows feature the cream of the Central Texas jazz crop: Ephraim Owens, Pamela Hart, Dr. James Polk, Andre Hayward, Alex Coke, Adrian Ruiz, Mike Sailors, Jessica Mortensen, Tommy Howard, and more, often backed by Shook's trio. The Society hopes to break the $100K mark by offering a specially curated collection of 25 performances from the series, available on the AJS YouTube page. And, of course, the Monks streams continue, with John Mark Piper this Thursday and the Brannen & Red Show on Saturday. – Michael Toland
Interference Fest: Women Making Noise 2020
www.twitch.tv/interference2020, Friday 18 – Sunday 20
"As a live music promoter of almost 21 years, I've found myself in uncharted territory in 2020, having to program and broadcast live events digitally," emails festival curator Tara Bhattacharya. "This has come with a great deal of learning and adjustment." Like Twitch and Eventbrite aren't talking to each other, so audio's a problem, as proved by Interference Fest having to cancel its virtual weekend two weeks ago. Rescheduled, this all-women sound and vision experimentalist immersion roars back this weekend brimming with the 21st century transmutation of music into the physical, metaphysical, and spiritual. Friday: Suspirians (5:45pm), Sarah Ruth (6:20), Sarah La Puerta + Jared Elioseff (6:40), Sandy Ewen (7:10), Aurum Son aka Sonia Flores (7:40), and headliners Angel Bat Dawid + Sistazz of Tha Nitty Gritty (8). Saturday: A Visual Interference (5pm), Rebecca Novak (6:45), Anisa Boukhlif (7:15), Chronophage (7:30), Lily Taylor (7:45), and closer Yuliya Lanina (8:05). Sunday, A Self-Care Interference: Xeno's chakra/healing workshop (4pm), Sarah Beames' yoga workshop (4:30), Lisa Cameron's massage workshop (5:15), Jana Horn (5:45), Raquel Bell (6:05), Blendways aka Rachel Weaver (6:35), Aga Zet (6:55), and festival crown act Amanda Gutierrez + Norman W. Long (7:30). – Raoul Hernandez
Riders Against the Storm, "Flowers for the Living"
Apple Music, Bandcamp, Spotify, YouTube
Marrieds Ghislaine "Qi Dada" Jean and Jonathan "Chaka" Mahone use music as an agent for empowerment, so no shocker that these two fighters for change employ their platform for uplift during an era of doom and gloom. The ATX hip-hop tag team leaps into COVID's torrential downpour with "Flowers for the Living," title cut from RAS's Feb. 2021 album. Featuring frequent collaborator Blaigne Sixon (Ayuma) and 20-year-old Georgetown crooner Clarence James, the uptempo track mashes electro elements with an African percussion sample befit for the brand's inspirational rhymes. James, once described by Chaka as Nineties Kurt Cobain fused with old soul rock & roll, impresses with a soothing chorus and necessary, calming outro. This beautiful track far exceeds its desired intent as a "mood booster." – Derek Udensi
Ghostboy Jaysee's "New Motive"
Apple Music, SoundCloud, Spotify, YouTube
Jean Meama rounds out 2020 by celebrating his new outlook on life. Title track to his upcoming album, "New Motive" links Ghostboy Jaysee with Houston producer Law once again for a mellow track equally unabashed in warning and pride. The Austin MC continues in the vein of introspective May single "Pray to God" by offering more of himself in his music. "I'm a felon, still carry that chrome," he self admonishes before acknowledging, "Did a lot of dirt I was young, but I can't take it back." Using his trusted sing-rap, Auto-Tune-assisted flow derived from Toronto rapper Tory Lanez to fend off reverting back to his old, troublesome ways, Jaysee presently sits at nearly 58,000 Spotify streams this year despite releasing only two fresh songs prior to "New Motive." – Derek Udensi
Half Japanese: Crazy Hearts
Forty years since the shattering blast of Half Japanese's cult-classic debut 1/2 Gentlemen/Not Beasts, Jad Fair's art-punk remains provocative and intoxicating. Crazy Hearts marks album six since the band reconvened as a quintet in 2014 and continues the Austinite's more focused melodic emphasis amid thudding bass line bursts and angular curveball pop. The rough ecstatic wonder bounces against dark visions in intentional dichotomy, "Wondrous Wonder" balancing "Dark World," and the sludging doom of "Late at Night" and "A Phantom Menace" cut with the Daniel Johnston hopefulness of "As Best You Can" and the title track. – Doug Freeman
James Steinle: Cold German Mornings
James Steinle introduced 2020 with solid South Texas balleedering on What I Came Here For, and the local songwriter's been hard-charging since. Following this summer's lo-fi concept album The Man From the Mountain, Steinle turns again with Cold German Mornings, which plays like a Hill Country hallucination. "Die Erste" commences with a low drawl twisting poetic lines into the bluesy burn of "Three Dark Kings." Then, the wonderfully bizarre boogie of "Ein Schnapps, Ein Beer" and jazzy choogle "Zugspitze Boogie" set a different pace altogether. Yet Steinle's songwriting still shines exceptionally in the title track's easy roll and weary waltz of "In Another Town," while "The Lusitania" broods between Terry Allen and TVZ and "Christmas at the Brothel" could B-side Robert Earl Keen. – Doug Freeman
Old Settler's Music Festival Winterfest
Facebook/YouTube, Saturday 19, 7-9pm
Twenty long months have passed since OSMF held its last campout. Imagine the withdrawals for all the die-hards who've attended annually for decades. Well, they can get their fix on Saturday when the festival's lord high admiral of revelry Kevin Russell hosts a winter informal featuring performances from festival favorites. Double 2020 Grammy nominee Sarah Jarosz, who won OSMF's Youth Talent Competition at age 10, returns for a bow, while master Jerry Douglas resonates some dobro mojo and Tony Kamel of resident pickers Wood & Wire elevates acoustic songcraft. North Carolina's Balsam Range import mountainous true-grass sound, Shelley King maxes out your laptop speakers with soulful intonation, and dynamic duo Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines serenade virtual campers. – Kevin Curtin
Bruce & Kelly's Holiday Shut-In Shindig
www.thenextwaltz.com, Sunday 20, 7pm
Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis' annual holiday show started as happenstance, simply some regional bookings together in December 1998 just as the couple's individual stars were ascending. The events became a family (and Austin) tradition, expanding to friends and fellow songwriters. This year's party gets a virtual twist but promises the same seasonal storytelling and marvelous songwriting that hallmark their performances together. Shakey Graves and Ray Wylie Hubbard add spice to the festive eggnog, the latter celebrating this year's remarkable duet LP Co-Starring. Expect some online co-starring with Robison and Willis' incomparable harmonies and the Next Waltz family. – Doug Freeman