New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to
By Michael Toland, Doug Freeman, Greg Stitt, Derek Udensi, Kevin Curtin, Alyssa Quiles, and Raoul Hernandez, Fri., May 28, 2021
A Night for Scott
Continental Club, Monday 31
Drummer Scott Laningham's distinctive touch fused effortless swing, versatility, and a recognizable tone. He contributed to the mix the way a great soundtrack enhances a film: with enough presence to bolster the action rather than distract from or overwhelm it. His effortless rapport made him a beloved figure in Austin's jazz scene and a valued session drummer.
The Dallas native toured with Christopher Cross, Alejandro Escovedo, and Kat Edmonson, played in bands Freedonia and TresMusicos, recorded the Dr. Demento-approved 1991 comedy album Moose in My House, and hosted the podcast SLRadio. At the time of his passing on May 8, Laningham maintained a stream of digital singles featuring his vocal and multi-instrumental talents. His sudden death at 61 due to heart issues leaves a hole in our homegrown music community.
"He was extremely responsive, rhythmically or melodically – always doing what was called for in the moment," details Austin native Elias Haslanger, who as a youth in the Eighties witnessed the percussionist perform, then became his musical partner two decades later in both the saxophonist's quintet and esteemed local favorites Church on Monday. "To me he was the ideal guy, because he always tried to make everybody else sound great. And he could play all styles. Whatever it was, he could nail it to the wall."
Church guitarist Tommy Howard and bassist Daniel Durham concur.
"Scott was the most selfless, supportive, and humble drummer I've ever played with, a true reflection of his personality," states Durham. Adds Howard, "He was always giving to the music. Anytime I played an idea, he was always right there with me. I could just focus on the song, floating on his cloud."
Veteran ATX axeman Mitch Watkins, who started sharing stages locally with Laningham in the early Eighties and recently joined the drummer in TresMusicos, agrees: "His joy was to be part of a musical happening that's great and understand his own role in it."
Moreover, the good vibes Laningham shared musically extended from his person.
"He was a kind, giving, loving guy – just radiating positivity at all times," says Howard.
"A real friendship evolves when you spend that much time on the bandstand with somebody like that," adds Haslanger. "It was way beyond music."
"The humanity part of him is, on some level, more important to me than the musician part," offers Watkins. "He was someone who, after any kind of interaction with him, I always, always, felt better than before. He had that quality of spreading his light to people."
Intended to resume its weekly Gallery residency, Church on Monday's show moves to the main club as a celebration of Laningham's life. Doors open at 6pm, with remembrances at 6:30 and music starting at 7. Guests include Watkins, Ephraim Owens, Andre Hayward, and Nate Laningham, Scott's son. No cover, but all parties encourage donations to the GoFundMe account for his family: gofundme.com/f/scott-laningham-memorial-fund. – Michael Toland
Lone Star State of Mind
ACL Live at the Moody Theater & 3ten ACL Live, Saturday 29
Last year, indomitable Houston octet the Suffers shook out "Take Me to the Good Times," an exuberant burst of Gulf Coast soul and funk that called to get out and get down. Good times returning, Kam Franklin's collective anchors a Memorial Day weekend takeover of both ACL venues alongside a culinary showcase on the Terrace. Fronted by firecracker Sabrina Ellis, Sweet Spirit brings "The Power" with anthemic indie grit-glam on the main stage as well, while downstairs in the club guitar slinger Zach Person breaks out his fresh eponymous debut strutting blistering blues rock. Irish transplant Pat Byrne caps the celebration laying out his suave, pop-hooked songwriting. – Doug Freeman
Pressure Release Party
Independence Brewing Co., Saturday 29 – Sunday 30
As the city jolts awake from a pandemic slumber, a two-day spread of live music and art administers just what the doctor ordered. Mental Health Awareness Month sitting at the fore of the festivities, the Southeast Austin shindig forges a SIMS Foundation sponsorship to dust off the gear cases of nightlife favorites Trouble in the Streets, Bright Light Social Hour, Western Youth, Altamesa, Thor & Friends, orchestral pop group the Human Circuit, and 10 others. A Saturday afterparty highlights guest DJ work from Villains Wear Black hosts Curse Mackey and Rona Rougeheart, with live painting throughout the event by Peelander-Z pilot Kengo Hioki and 2021 "Best of Austin" winners Raasin in the Sun. Tickets available through Eventbrite. – Greg Stitt
Dubbo, Lil Jairmy, Wacotron
Come & Take It Live, Wednesday 2
Ascending Austin rapper Dubbo knows only one mode: go. He treats music like a Nascar driver – flat-out attack – and that infectious exuberance on breakout "Ben10" precipitated his momentum. The Dallas transplant kick-starts ATX summer with another of his high-octane performances as he opens for Houston's Lil Jairmy. The latter's close relationship with 4PF, a label fronted by Atlanta trap superstar Lil Baby, gained further traction with last month's "Get Back." 42 Dugg lends a verse on the uptempo track, while the 22-year-old Houstonian notably asserts an unwillingness to link with fraudulent peers. Wacotron completes the all-regional lineup of budding Lone Stars. His new mixtape, Smokin Texas, goes heavy on production thanks to well-established Atlanta hitmakers 808 Mafia. "Umbrella," a Marshmello-produced single featuring Chicago drill star G Herbo, sees the gritty Waco emcee handle menacing violins with precision. – Derek Udensi
Candler Wilkinson IV
Long Play Lounge East, Thursday 3
A marvel of tattooed-knuckle country jazz, Candler Wilkinson IV's got guitar skills that make you wonder if he signed with the devil. The Austinite's wild fingers beckon you to buckle up when he gasses into extended 32nd note runs, augmented with quirky licks and shape-shifting chord voicings. Typically accompanied by the hearty doghouse bass of Curtis Sigurd, his sets rope together Western swing, old-time Americana, classic country, and favorites such as Yiddish standard "Bei Mir Bistu Shein," all of which tweak lyrically toward debauchery. The Thursday night staple residency at Long Play Lounge East – formerly Stay Gold – also boasts prodigious yodeling chops. – Kevin Curtin
Mark Rubin: The Triumph of Assimilation
Call it "Klezmerbilly." Bad Livers bassist Mark Rubin, now based in New Orleans, carves his Jewish heritage into American roots in a way that twines the folk traditions both playfully and with great poignancy. Released on his Rubinchik Records, The Triumph of Assimilation by the self-branded "Jew of Oklahoma" takes on a history of discrimination and social absorption, a tension inherent in the stylistic cholent of bluegrass, old-time Americana, folk, and Romani stylings that Rubin stews. Openers "A Day of Revenge" and "It's Burning" translate Mordechai Gebirtig poems, calling for retribution through "kindness, peace, and love," while "Down South Kosher" and Randy Newman-esque "Unnatural Disasters" sting with biting wit. Clawhammer stunner "Yiddish Banjo Suite" and yodeling "Spin the Dreidel," featuring Austin Rabbi Neil Blumofe and New Orleans' Panorama Jazz Band, meld cultures immaculately, as does banjo by Bad Livers bandmate Danny Barnes on "My Resting Place." At a time of American roots music inspecting its diverse threads, Rubin adds a valuable stitch to the tapestry. – Doug Freeman
Primo the Alien's Double EP Release
Independent producer Laura Lee Bishop's Heart on the Run and Rock Professor ooze electro sweetness with dashes of rock & roll and contemporary beats. Under the guise of Primo the Alien, the Austin singer belts through choruses all while intoxicating listeners with the sweet nectar of riveting bridges, sounds mere Earthlings couldn't comprehend without her intergalactic intervention. Opening the siamese EPs with dance flashes and synth intricacies, the retro-pop ruler's "Do It Again" lays down a groovy motif of dazzling progressions. From a lightning storm of "Thunder" to the B-side's starry "Intergalactic Gypsy," the eight total tracks leave no planet unexplored as she speaks on love, power, and the weight of what it means to be female in a genre ruled by men. Packaged in humor and crude verbiage, "Rock Professor" takes on the overwhelming male presence in the music industry. Searing guitars melt into a quiet, piano-led bridge before the Eighties pop queen tears into a sonic finale worthy of the most esteemed stages. Flickering cinematic backing tracks and pulsing electrifying movements, HOTR and RP leave hearts racing and the souls of the unappreciated empowered. – Alyssa Quiles
Daddy Longhead: Twinkle
Viscous, sticky, burbling, with a dual vocal attack by bass plucker JD Pinkus and guitar tormentor Jimbo Yongue that's eerily reminiscent of early Gene Simmons, Twinkle glistens and glints like garage huffers lit up on Kiss covers and ketamine. Fourth LP and first since Classic on Man's Ruin in 1998 (thanks, Frank Kozik), the heshers' reemergence on Austin imprint Onama Media Group more than two decades after their heyday brings it all rushing back like long-gone local freak fest Woodshock. The trio's 1991 bow on Touch & Go, Cheatos, twitched and tweaked like Pinkus' day band, the Butthole Surfers, and featured at least a couple of 'em alongside Scratch Acid drum demon Rey Washam. Today, Frank Garymartin rocks the kit on a comeback recorded, produced, and mixed by Pinkus, an Austin pandemic casualty once he left town for the mountains near Asheville, N.C. All four Daddy Longhead albums reside on Bandcamp as of January, spearheaded by Twinkle, a thick, resin-coated return to form, 11 songs in 38 minutes. "Looking back at the sorrows, I see that something remains/ I'm finding it harder to tell the difference between the pleasures and the pains," begins "Plano" out of the gate behind a bulbous bassline, sludgy feedback, and an up-dirge tempo, all Sleep-y and pleasing. Chunky chugger "Case of the Feelings," the shambolic clatter of "Riddle Cap," and ZZ Top-ish "The Man" hum and buckle, but "Balls Out Inn" sets the tone. Metallic blooze ready-made for ex-blues burg Austin, it rides a riff any genre shredder would bend with glee, while its heavier, meaner, more wastoid "Lung Punch" and molten "Burnt Toast," whose gooey black tar doesn't come off when scraped with a butter knife, groove crude. "Beautiful" distorts and devolves into audio possession like some demonic sorcery perfectly teamed with Austin disintegration unit USA/Mexico. That penultimate track tumbles into the sonic bleed out of the closing title track "Twinkle (live)," a shooting star for cannabinoids and cannibals alike. – Raoul Hernandez