Flanfire (Duggan Flanakin) is bringing LIFE to Austin music -- and telling the world how sweet it is!

Sunday, October 31, 2004

All Hallow's Eve -- the leadup to All Saints' Day -- what a weekend!

It all started after I took the better half to the airport for her annual excursion with her sister, this time to Phoenix to see daughters Nos. 1, 2, and new. After a long day of rest (after the early airport trek), it was off to the festive (and feast-ful) gala celebrating the debut of the Aaron Hamre Band -- out in the outer burbs, complete with power outages and uniforms at the doorstep. Three guys from Santa Fe who used to play together in New Mexico run into each other after all of them have moved to Austin and hook up again to play Aaron's Eighties Rock redux (complete with power chords and lots of fast-fingered guitar licks AND the long long hair). Look for them out on the town in the near future. [Austin oldies: Think early Ian Moore]

Then it was off to South Austin (after dropping my DJ friend off - he had to be on air at 6 am today) to my lawyer friend's (WW3) costume party and MORE food and libations. The Supremes showed up to sing, there was a guy with a colostomy (WW's wife works at Seton and lots of her colleagues were there) and a couple just off duty from Homeland security, along with dozens of other well-costumed folk. WW is a music impresario and great collector of vinyl and such (as is his pal Jay who does the Lounge show on KOOP on Saturday mornings) who early on turned me onto Los Lonely Boys (who used to play in his backyard). During the party two high school kids from the neighborhood opted to crash, even though they are NOT friends of my pal's rock-n-roll playing son who goes to the same high school - one of the kids is a player who says his dad is in Cher's band these days - but HE is a bluesman all the way. Got home just in time to turn back the clock.

Today it was early breakfast with Amanda and then church at Hope and off to the Gospel Brunch at Maria's, where I met up with my 16-month-old music-loving grandson. HE of course charmed Shelley King and Carolyn Wonderland (and others as well) and insisted that I get in the picture with my old pals - who are now his. The long-traveling Scrappy Jud was back at the helm, and Gurf the Surf Morlix was playing PEDAL steel. It was a dancing good time.

Caleb the cool continued to impress as we went to a publicist meeting at Flightpath and discussed upcoming CD release parties and such. Then he was rescued by his mom, and I trekked off the KUT-FM to perform professional clapping and hollering during Kerry Polk's LIVESET show. She even did a reprise of one of her old Polk, Barton and Towhead tunes. Had some great players on hand, too -- bud Jenny Reynolds doing harmony vocals, the irrepressible Warren Hood on fiddle and mandolin for starters. Austin fireman Rich Brock was on harmonica, and John Mullins played a variety of guitars (including dobro), while Lenny Ashcraft provided the bottom and a guy named Dana Meiser (who is soon off to Merrie Olde England) pounded the skins. Michael Austin (whose new CD Thick and Thin, with Albert and Gage, is just out) added some sweet notes on clarinet, and Louis Meyers played pedal steel (he has a couple to sell, by the way). Louis and Warren are rehearsing with Bob Schneider for a new vision of The Bob's - Eighties music set to a bluegrass beat. Meanwhile, Warren is also playing with Toni Price at Hippie Hour on Tuesdays at the Continental Club - with Matt Giles and Willie Pipkin from the South Austin Jug Band replacing Casper Rawls. [For those with short memories or who are new in town, Warren and Willie are longtime SAJB playing mates, and Willie has also been playing with Kim DesChamps in El Kabong.] So go - old timers will see Warren's dad Champ in their minds' eyes and younger folk will still marvel at the kid's chops.

Life is good.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Get ADDICTED to Jason and Beth Richard's new band -- The Addictions. For the record, you had best catch their Austin appearances before their success on radio around the country takes them out of town for a while. This writer took that advice last Saturday night for a 45-minute set at Room 710 -- the club on Red River with the cleanest restrooms of any bar I have ever visited. Jason is joined on guitar by look-alike (from a distance) Chris Volloy, who penned one of the 11 songs on their brand-new CD that is now available at Waterloo Records (check the listening post) - the website is www.theaddictionsmusic.com and you should check out the cool photos of the red hot mama (Beth) in full vamp mode.

On stage, Jason and Beth are fast becoming the Sonny and Cher of driving rock and roll -- both are very animated (even on a small stage). Saturday night - in a sleeveless black dress with zigzag cuts at the hemline - Beth (with and without guitar in hand) jumped and jived and even climbed up on the amps and jumped off in the midst of song. Jason himself plays standing on one leg with the other high in the air at times - and all of it makes for an exciting stage show. Add a few real lights, some fog, and some space to operate, and you have a first class show that may soon be out in front of top name traveling shows (I envision U2 but would settle for second tier bands for now).

Oh, the music. My favorites on Saturday were Roller Girl (featuring Jason) and Toys (featuring Beth) - plus Wait (written by Chris). Geekmeister Dave Warren and the unflappable Derek Hatley still provide the rhythm (bass and drums, respectively), and as a result "tight" and "loose" both fit the description -- the band is always on time and never nervous.

None of the songs from the old Quatropaw days are on the playlist right now - maybe the band will add some after they get headliner status (which ought to happen). After all, Quatropaw itself was deemed the nation's best unsigned band a few years (and children) back - and the entire band has gotten a lot more professional since those halcyon days.

For the weak at ear, bring plugs - especially in a small room.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Alice's Restaurant -- ah, those fond memories of Arlo Guthrie in 1969, where you could get ANYTHING you wanted (exceptin' Alice). But, no, it is 2004, and Alice's is alive and well in Niederwald (on State Highway 21 just north of Uhland -- and south of the intersection with U.S. Highway 183; also east of Buda just off county road 201). It was our second time for the Sunday brunch, and our second GREAT meal cooked with LOVE (they even say so). This time the outdoor patio music was provided by Turtle Creek, a folkish duo (sometimes with a keyboardist) whose original songs are mixed in with classics and even requests. After over 30 years of playing together, the Minnesotan and Iowan (both transplanted Texans now) finally recorded their first ever CD in 2002, with help from Karen Mal (what red-blooded American male over 15 doesn't love Karen?). My grandson loved them - and not because they give away spider and turtle stamps and other goodies. Caleb, who turned 16 months today, liked them so much we stayed two whole hours - as he clapped after nearly every song. Did I mention it was a BEAUTIFUL DAY?

For the record, Alice's has put its expansion project on hold after sweating through a summer without enough love (from customer cash), but will be celebrating its first whole year of business this Saturday with an extravaganza featuring 14 (or is it 17?) bands starting at 2:30 pm and going until the county constables get tired of chasing folks leaving the place. Then, next Sunday, the music will be supplied by Karen Mal's own band (though she is playing that day in Red Sox country while on a national tour) the Dimestore Poets -- Billy and his songs are enough!

Sunday, however, follows Saturday, and I would be remiss if I failed to mention our outing on that day which officially began our 26th anniversary week. Call me smaltzy, but we went to the movies to see Hilary Duff - and had a blast at her movie, which featured a bunch of fabulous young musicians and the inimitable John Corbett but also had Mrs. Tom Hanks (Rita Wilson as Hilary's character's mom), the still gorgeous Rebecca DeMornay (as the hippie aunt), and Jason Ritter as Hilary's character's brother. Research, research - a movie about young musicians interacting (reminds me of a very recent blog night).

After the movie, we took in Artz Rib House, which was featuring the twin talents of Shelley King (baby in tow) and Jenny Reynolds (fellow Red Sox fan and commiserant during the 19-8 debacle). My pal Tahni showed up with her little Emme Lou and got to showcase a song or two of hers. She has just confirmed to me that her December 5 CD release at Ruta Maya will feature Strings Attached as her opening act and backup band (she will also have Woody Russell and others on hand to add to the harmonies).

We left Artz early for what turned out to be a special treat. The better half said we should go to this world premiere showing (during the Austin Film Festival) of a documentary movie called "Searching for Angela Shelton" - written by one Angela Shelton and starring a plethora of other Angela Sheltons from across America. Our Angela admits she began this project without realizing it would change her life (and the lives of many of the other Angelas) dramatically. Our gal, you see, is an incest survivor - and she discovered that over half of the women she interviewed for this film - including Anonymous Angela (who would not be interviewed on camera and is heard from only via telephone conversations) had been raped, beaten, or molested at times in their lives. Just as the liner notes profess, our Angela had in reality embarked on a journey of self-discovery during which she gains the courage to confront her (still in denial) father and her step-siblings who had been abused along with her. The other Angelas - who are black and white, rich and poor, and even just coming out of (or still in) self-abusive lifestyles - complete our Angela's journey by teaching her about forgiveness, faith, and the power of the human spirit -- keeping her alive and growing in the process. Angela was at the film and answered questions after the showing -- she is warm and witty and still not fully healed, but her willingness to expose her own nakedness as a human being is so complete that she is transparent and joyful to know that her film has already changed her life and the lives of many of her namesakes - and many others as well. Angela received considerable support in this project from Oprah Winfrey, a woman who just seems to go about doing a lot of good despite being herself a flawed human being. There is another showing at the Arbor on Tuesday (October 19), and one can also visit the website, www.searchingforangelashelton.com

"Raise Your Voice," Hilary's little film with some good music, is a fictitious story about a girl who survives the death of her brother after taking him to a concert to celebrate his high school graduation and has to cope with her guilt (they had snuck out to go to the show). Nice. But "Searching for Angela Shelton" is a homerun Oscar quality film about a real woman who lets us all in on her dirtiest little secrets and then finds other women willing to open up to help the healing start and build a camaraderie of the spirit as she goes on her great life journey.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Bonnie and Blythe made their Austin debut at the Waterloo Ice House on 38th Street tonight. Get over it. The place is way too small for the crowd these two dynamos ought to be drawing (and will be once they put together a full band behind them). Lots of reasons why:

1. Great voices -- both of them can really belt it and also sing the softer stuff.

2. Girls, don't send your boyfriend off to see them play without going along. Okay - Jamie is a part-time model, does TV and radio spots, has been on stage since she was a little kid, and Bonnie is, well, all that blonditz is supposed to mean (and it is all an act!). The meaning of all of this is, both of these young women have great smiles (from all of the men in the audiences). Including their dads - who like what their girls are doing on stage.

3. Their harmonies are those of the great rock bands of the Eighties and earlier -- and they are the kind of women singers who make guys (or gals) who run the fog machines and strobes happy. Visualize these singers with power chords and hot leads (and a kick-butt drummer) behind them. You'll get the picture - and one day the real thing.

4. They are both great friends of mine - and they LOVE to sing.

Oh, by the way, my pal Seth Hulbert (of the Brennen Leigh Band) was on hand to lend his guitar to Bonnie (who broke a string early) and play some of his great leads on a few songs. The BB girls liked his work so much they have invited him to play at their gig at Tavern on the Gruene on October 21. This time he will have rehearsed - so it ought to be really good.

Props to Waterloo's staff, who did not realize that the girls thought they were supposed to be playing till 11 - and then did not unplug the mikes when it got later than they had planned to be there. Which was especially nice, given that Jamie (Blythe's) mom and dad had driven up from New Braunfels to see them, and that everyone in the house was still having fun.

Downers to all of my friends whom I invited and who did not really have an excuse not to come (BLH, remember I told you to write a song about guilt trips as your penance for having a headache).

All in all, this was a great way to cap off a weekend that began with a Friday lunch with a pal to celebrate his birthday and a followup trip to Barton Springs Nursery where we ran into former South Austin Gospel Choir singer Nick Ulrich of the golden green thumb and spent hours finding just the right plants for the birthday boy's new yard (that came with a new house). That day was capped by the fabulous Red Sox victory (the Yankees series looms). Saturday was devoted largely to helping another friend with her estate sale (very successful but more to come - or go) and -- pay attention, Mike Cherry!!!!!! -- the LSU comeback victory over Florida after spotting them a two touchdown lead (twice) at their house. SWEET! The crowning glory will hopefully be a record-breaking 19th in a row for the beloved Patriots (one for you, Jenny R).

One more shameless plug -- my friend Amy is inviting everyone out to (of all palaces) CLUB DE VILLE on Wednesday, October 20, from 6 till 8 pm for a spaghetti and meatball dinner and benefit for the SPANK Dance Company (of which she is a member). Dance, live music, and meatballs -- it's good for you.

Happy Afghan election day!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

I got a call earlier this week from my pal Seth Hulbert. Said he and Brennen (Leigh) were playing Happy Hour at Patos Tacos on 38-1/2 Street (just east of the Fiesta Mart). Now THAT was interesting to me, as I had not realized that Patos Tacos had fully rebuilt and reopened after the disastrous fire there a couple of years ago. So, naturally, I HAD to go and visit an old haunt that was always a fun place to be back when I would go and hear Harmoni Kelley's old band WorkHorse and nibble on some tasty morsels and shoot some pool with buds and just relax. In THOSE days, Patos had a front room and such, but the real action was out on the patio and in the back room where the stage was. Nowadays, the totally rebuilt emporium has a big stage in the main room - and the pool tables are off to the side to the right. On a nice day, many folks are sitting out front on the patio, where they are not able to hear the music. Right now, there is live music mostly from Thursday through Sunday.

Today, it was just Seth and Brennen, but on occasion you can hear Chadd Thomas and the Crazy Kings (a real rockabilly treasure) or Jim Stringer in various renditions - including the three part harmonies of Stringer, Karen Poston, and Susanna Van Tassel as The Hummingbirds. Karen has asked ALL of her fans to come out to Patos on Sunday, October 17, for her birthday party - complete with cake (but bring more!) - for the gig that starts at 6 pm. Do come hungry and thirsty - and bring friends. Patos has been open for a few months, but in reality they are still touching up the paint out front and have been continuing to rebuild since they reopened. They have yet to have a full-fledged grand reopening party. Perhaps the October 17 Hummingbirds show will be such an occasion - Please bring party hats.

There IS a tie-in between the Hummingbirds and Seth and Brennen - I ran into all of them at the Carousel Lounge tonight when I went to hear Maria Mabry (and friends). The Hummingbirds had the early shift, and Maria went on after nine with Seth on bass, Brennen on fiddle and vocals, Mike Cherry from Dark Holler on dobro and vocals, North Dakota emigre Leo Rondeau (an old friend of Seth's and DONT ASK BRENNEN!) on acoustic guitar, and Maria on drums. Over half of their set was gospel music, from The Old Rugged Cross to The Sweet By and By, as requested (we are told) by the management at the Carousel. A real highlight was the two-girl duet on Hello Stranger. But, folks, this was the first time this quintet (playing as Kalin Rose) had played together in public, and they were a little rough - but always fun to watch.

This coming Sunday holds forth lots of promise -- the fourth anniversary HOOT party and fundraiser at Antone's from 4 till 8, featuring Tom Stevens and a host of players from the club and then Ted Roddy and the King Konjure Kombo --- and then at six, out at Westlake United Methodist Church, Ruthie Foster and Cyd Cassone will be performing in a benefit for the Clavier-Werke School of Music - for details, call 512-328-5777. My connection is that good pal Kerry Polk teaches KinderMusik to my grandson at Clavier Werke. Jenny Reynolds also teaches guitar at the school.

Speaking of Jenny, she will join the Queen of South Austin music - Miss Shelley King - at Artz Rib House for a song swap session on Saturday, October 16. Be there and cheer on Jenny's and my Red Sox in their hopefully continued quest for a World Series victory.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

October - That's Jon Dee Graham's month. I missed his show tonight with Alejandro Escovedo, but I look forward to hearing all about it from pals. Last night, though, I did make it down to Jovita's for the grand reunion of the Original Shelley King Band - Shelley and Perry plus Kyle Judd (the guitar stud - and if you have ever heard him, you'll know why he has the moniker) and the inimitable Anthony Velasco on bass (and on the bass amp at times). Baby Clark was in tow, as was the Judd baby - and other women (unnamed) in the house were beginning to look baby hungry themselves. Shelley attracts a broad audience, and one family had three generations on hand for the show (that Eileen really rocks).

Later I waded into the far reaches of North Austin (north of my own home) for a jam that included super hero Steve Gavigan (who's off to New Orleans to celebrate Halloween soon) and some of his pals - and up and coming guitar goddess Tahni Handal. Tahni has a new CD of her singer songwriter songs coming out in the near future, and she has scheduled a CD release for December 5 at the Ruta Maya Coffeehouse. Details and players to be named later. Tahni, for the record, began her rock and roll career as lead guitarist with the all-girl heavy metal band Tantrum a while back, then got herself into some blues bands and other venues before settling in the Tahoe area for a few years. Three years ago she and her baby daughter packed up their gear and trekked across country to Austin, Texas (as have many other musicians seeking a place to be). She's been working on her music out of the spotlight ever since, but now this woman is getting her chops back in shape and is ready to explode.

Earlier in the week I had the distinct pleasure of joining many of Austin's finest musicians to pay tribute to (and get to hear) Buddy Miller debut his new CD at Waterloo Records. Not at all surprisingly, Gurf Morlix joined him on bass - no surprise for the magic man of music, as he once joined Buddy on tour on the spur of the moment after a Buddy and Julie gig at the Continental Club in which Gurf was in the house but NOT on stage. Showing their fine taste in music, Kim and Karen DesChamps, all of the Greencards, Troy Campbell and others too numerous to mention (plus Greg Adkins of the Gospel According to Austin project) - and me - all got to hear Buddy promise some longer gigs coming in Austin in November. Details to follow.

Then Thursday night, the wife and I joined our daughter, grandson, and her in-laws at Shady Grove to eat hamburgers and hear Terri Hendrix (them for the very first time live). Terri had a full band, with Riley Osborne joining her usual suspects to provide a fuller sound. Terri brought out her first "country" song, about a macho guy who "sits to pee" and likes to shop when he comes to Austin. It was a RIOT! Now Shady Grove is a fine place, but the sound outdoors was a little tinny in the far reaches, and at times one could hardly hear Riley and Glen even in the middle of the standing only area. All vocals were up, though - and the weather was great. Caleb was dancing on the table -- he's a big Terri Hendrix fan -- or maybe he was just having such a good time because all FOUR of Lloyd Maines' grandchildren (including the new one not yet three weeks old at the time) were in the house, along with ONE of his two daughters. Now, this is a guy who puts his grandkids' photos on his guitar!

The prior weekend we also missed a fabulous Jackson Birthday Barn Dance to be in Louisiana with my mother as she celebrated her induction into the Springhill High School Hall of Fame. Movie starlet (and one-time wife of the late George Peppard) Sherry Boucher was the mistress of ceremonies, and my former street basketball teammate (who has coached her own daughter, now at Ole Miss) choked up as she recounted her own days in my mother's English classroom. Our little high school has produced some amazing people, including CEO's of major corporations and a Heisman trophy winner.

I keep hearing about a new live music venue out west of town - Backstage Steak House on State Highway 71 past Poodie's. Apparently the place is run by folks who used to cater to the stars. The food is reportedly great and well worth the drive.

My friend Bill Groll reported this week on the passing of his father - who taught him to love country music and then lived to see Bill actually begin to do so. Check out www.austinamericana.com for Bill's weekly updates and more if you are not already on his list.

Finally, Kelly Coleman, who played at my daughter's wedding and has been my other daughter's best friend for more than a decace, is in hospital in San Antonio with a blood clot in her lung. This is serious stuff, and she needs our prayers.

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