- April 2012 -

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Another Fein Mess
AF Stone’s Monthly
April 2012

‘Round Town

3-4 Ronnie Mack’s Barn Dance. Fun as ever.

3-10 Went with girlfriend Diane to see ‘Duck Soup’ and ‘Animal Crackers’ at the Egyptian Theater. The venue is still gorgeous. The Academy Awards may leave the formerly-Kodak down the street, why not resume here? For an insane too-in-depth look at “Duck Soup,” let your fingers do the walking to Blighty and
http://marxcouncil.blogspot.com/2010/03/duck-soup-annotatetd-guide.html

3-14 Another round with Jimmy Angel and Troy Walker at Viva Cantina in Burbank. Viva Jimmy! Viva Troy! (And there’s a Big Band playing in the back room. All free!)



3-16 The old men playing dominos. Sitting outside Gelson’s grocery on Franklin: Chuck Weiss, AF, Jim Dawson. Ten days later I sat with Harvey Sid Fisher at another table, where he’d just been recognized by Tim Curry.



3-28 Had lunch at Hugo’s, West Hollywood, with Sedona-based Cubano singer Mercy Bermudez long late of the Heaters, and her bandmate/mate Mike. Her album “Me Llamo” was just released. Afterwards in the parking lot they got a taste of “Hollywood” as paparazzi chased four people we didn’t recognize. At 3:30 pm I met Jim Dawson at Gelson’s again and we met folklorist Mary Kathering Aldin, and then - Chuck E. Weiss again. In the evening, a small gathering at Harold Bronson’s house where much music info was served.

The ides of March

Mid-March is South-By-Southwest time for me. Or should have been. Fearing an acting-up knee (SXSW is five days marching for 14-hours) and a forecast of thunderstorms I decided to sit this one out and go instead to a friend’s daughter’s wedding in North Carolina. That week Austin was 75 degrees and clear. People called urging me to come. I felt like a fool.

But that was just the first misstep. Thursday I flew to Phoenix, to connect to Raleigh/Durham. In the airport I left my coat in the mens room. Five minutes later I raced back and found it on the floor. My wallet was gone. I don’t normally carry cash, but this time (!) I had $400 in the wallet. After canceling the credit cards I had to return to Burbank. If I went to Raleigh I’d have no ID for the flight back.

I tell my daughter “Never leave your wallet anywhere. If you put it on the roof of the car a loud noise might distract you and make you forget it.” Yet I didn’t keep it in my pants pocket. Big daddy, big advice-giver. Big idiot.

Music

Nobody logs music cues when scheduling commmercials. I saw one for ??? that featured ‘Gimme Some Lovin,’”, then one for Chase that featured “Keep On Runnin’”. Two Spencer Davis Group songs from 1966. I’m sure Spencer Davis profits from this, but what ever happened to that kid who sang lead? ... I was happy to read that Bruce Springsteen, in his SXSW speech for young musicians, pointed out that most music, including his own, was based on old music. Sorry I wasn’t there (see preceding) ... Among the 50 greatest albums chosen by WNPR is Dylan’s first which “belied his future greatness” ... Jimmy Rabbit, whose deejaying here on KMET in the early/mid 1970s was the city’s radio zenith, is in Colorado. His grandfather? uncle? I don’t remember wrote “Psycho.” Waylon Jennings appeared on Rabbit’s Capitol album ... Heard “Little Girl” by the Syndicate of Sound and for the fist time heard Dylan inflections in his voice. Or did I? ... Chuck Berry wrote brilliantly, but with a shoehorn. In ‘School Day’ we have four beats to house “Gee but the teacher don’t know how mean she looks.” In ‘Almost Grown’ (his first record with background vocals) there’s the lengthy and dramatically ungrammatical “They ain’t said I broke no rules.” (As said, he broke rules, and they know it.) And I always wondered who Sloan was, as in “Don’t bother me, sleep with Sloan.” It was “leave us alone” ... During the payola scandals, Dick Clark ditched his publishing company. I never connected the name I sometimes saw on records with him, I guess because it was so cunningly concealed. It was Sea-Lark ... the ad for Tom Paxton at a McCabe’s folk club says he was on the Greenwich Village scene with Dave Van Ronk, Eric Anderson and “young Bob Dylan.” Were there several Bob Dylans, like Sonny Boy Williamsons? I guess Eric Anderson was old then. Probably dead now.

Armenian Genocide Day - April 24th

I encounter Armeniana all the time. Most auto repair shops in Hollywood are Armenian owned, including the Svenska specialists who’ve become intimate with my cars. Also, I enjoy princess cake (yellow cake, raspberry filling, green marzipan frosting) which are favored, near-exclusively, by Swedes and Armenians.

My Armenian Tuesday-breakfast friends are adamant about Turkey addressing their systematic slaughter of Armenians during and after World War I. The Turks deny it. So I posed this to one of them:

- The Nazis were murderous monsters. Their crimes are infamous: the Jews who were targeted constituted only a slice of the big picture. They slaughtered millions in dozens of countries. Yet when they surrendered we embraced them. If we can forgive Germany and Japan, those
fuckers, why don’t you forget about the Turks?

- The Jews got reparations.
- The Germans kept records. They were proud of the exterminations and loved gazing at the statistics.
- The Turks should apologize and pay.
- I think so too. It’s a Muslim country that systematically killed Christians. But now we need them as a bulkhead in the Middle East, just like we needed the Germans against the Russians after W.W.II. 1
- So if they’re our friends they can make good for what they did.
- That’s a good idea, but it was nearly a hundred years ago. The Turks covered their tracks. It’s one abomination in a world that’s seen thousands. Everyone agrees the Armenian slaughter was horrid, but what can anyone do?
- The Turks can pay reparations.

Armenians are making their case very loudly. But I see the world through Armenian glasses. Other people may not be as aware.

1 I wonder what we would have done if there was no Russia to oppose after the war.

Ship of fools

Latimes.

March 16 Rebecca Trounson discovers that some post-college people are moving back with parents. “The trend is driven largely by the economy” she writes, “you no longer have reason to blush.” (Blush?) The first she’s heard.

Mid-March, quarter page, color photo; Judge thinks Lindsay Lohan is OK. March 31, half page column about the lawyer behind Lindsay Lohan: color photo.

March 23. Page 2 column by Gale Holland. Audis are cool now, not BMW’s. Says bartender Laura Kinchelor: “My girlfriend has a rich fiancé, he bought her an Audi. And she’s pretty hip.” A half page.

Mucho loco

The 3-11 LATimes front page story by Alejandro Lazo which proposed that Highland Park, a tatty nondescript in-between area, is now hep revealed a shocking mentality. OK, the area is now peppered with art galleries and yoga studios and “a blogger and wellness and lifestyle counselor” got in for a “bargain-priced” $495,000. But are Silver Lake and Echo Park now “out” because this area has been discovered? Yes siree says Al, the certainly unlanded judge.

But it’s the racial profile that stuns. Early 20th century whites left with the arrival of Latinos “fifty years ago.” The opening line of the next sentence from Alejandro is “Gang violence.” Of course, Latinos and gang violence, they go hand in hand. He says it was up, and now it’s down. If I wrote two sentences with that adjacency I’d be run out of town.

I May Be Wrong But ...

I was cut off in traffic five years ago. When two lanes funneled to one, a guy sped ahead of me on the right, made me jerk my car to the left, and gave me the finger. Both I and my male passenger looked in amazement that a man would do that because a man faces consequences. I gave chase, but he got away. Would I have pulled a gun on him? Rammed his car? Cut HIM off? Maybe I would have stuck my tongue out at him. I’m no warrior, but I act like one.

Some women, on the other hand, make those moves knowing that very few men, though tempted, will pull them from their car. Mainly it’s young women, (differently crazed than the young men weaving in and out on the freeway at 90 mph), exulting in the power of a steel cocoon, high on attitude and the unique chance to be a bully. That’s the way I see it.

The LATimes Nov 3 Tina Susman NY report about a man striking a woman into a coma for saving a parking space by standing in it was from a woman’s POV.

Not her sympathy for the woman who suffered brain damage, everyone feels that, but because of her casual view of the victim’s crime. Susman wrote that it’s ”not unusual” for a person to stand in a parking space.

She wrote without outrage -- it’s not legal, but it’s really OK.
Maybe Susman has done that. And seen other women do it. But you don’t see a lot of men standing in spaces. Some women feel they are surrounded by an invisible shield - you cannot strike a woman. Trouble is the shield is not just invisible but imaginary. It is certain that a man standing in a parking space is asking for a fight.

If a man had written that article he would have seethed at the nature of the victim’s crime. The 4 foot 9 woman was childlike not only in size but in world view - her intransigent self-righteousness pushed a maniac’s button and he responded as madmen do. (She struck his face first. Both were NYers.)

Standing in a parking space is very very wrong. The street is a battlefield. Cars prowl seeking parking. When a space appears, a driver gets it. Using a stand-in is no different from running 10 miles of a 15 mile race and having someone at the finish line break the tape for you. You deserve nothing.

Their g-g-g-generation

The lad writing the 3-22 LAT review of a new Buick opens saying it is a “dud” and then lists nothing but praise. Its fatal flaw? The design “takes precisely zero chances.” He’d prefer that the bumpers were attached with tape? It came graffitied? No, it isn’t “aspirational” in styling so no one under 30 will like it. Thusly we deduce David Undercoffler’s age. He’s finds it boring that “buyers will get a comfortable, quiet, economical product that they will like very much.” He mentions “denture paste” to identify target buyers. The funny thing is, nobody his age reads the paper.

Hedaches

*Richard Simon LAT 4-15-11 re NASA launch, 1st line --
“Houston, you have a problem.”
* Eli Wallach - Mostly good, little bad or ugly
* Fatal stabbing spurs call for more security
* Train crash raises new safety questions
* Macy’s hopes for big sales
*“You can cry foul, but prices are up” for turkey
* Rabbits have kept them hopping LAT
* Not so ready for a close-up NYT
* We’ve seen good, bad and ugly Manny LAT
* Anyway you slice it, cutlery sales grow LAT
* Seniors support Medicare
* Actor selflessly dedicated his life to find a cure for disease that was killing him

But then 1-14-12 two LATimes surprises:
* Film splits British aisles (Margaret Thatcher movie)
* The Albert Haul (merchandising value of Albert Pujols)

NY

The old photo in the 2-26 NYTimes was of “Connie Wald, shown in her early 20’s in a photograph by Ted Allen.” Ted Allen? Under the pic was “Stephanie Diani for The New York Times.” Hold on. Who Steph? What did she do? Did she place the photo on the page just so? Does she now own it, but if so in what sense is it FOR the NYTimes? And the article by Guy Trebay 2. Wald, 96, lives in Bev Hills, the widow of movie mogul Jerry Wald. (At last, an actual survivor.) Names drop like boulders. “Roz Russell lived up the street.” “Joan called one night and asked if she could bring Clark Gable.” Hollywood’s as phony as “the camaraderie also-rans feign” when someone else gets the Oscar says Guy. Not like New York, the trend-resistant center of reality ... 2-19-12 Carol Vogel “unmasks” Cindy Sherman, the relentless exhibitionist. At her side when Sherman tells a clerk she doubts the authenticity of an old dress: “One begged to know more” says Vogel in rapture. She swoons that this mundane situation’s “tantalizing sense of mystery and uneasiness” parallels Sherman’s costumed self portraits which sell for million$. That’s the mystery ... Sad to say, the NYTimes had an excellent article about potholes in the streets of Los Angeles. 1-9-12. The Downs and Ups of Los Angeles. Jennifer Medina files a better report about street conditions here than anyone at theLATimes. “The American Association of State Highways and Transportation Officials” found 64% of LA roads poor. WHY DOESN’T SOMEONE HERE WRITE ABOUT THIS? Maybe it’s of no interest to hipsters ... Another good one, almost, is Adam Nagourney’s 3-29 NYT story about proposed high-rise buildings that could turn Hollywood into Metropolis (Lang’s, not Superman’s). Good, but then he writes that the Hollywood Highland complex “has been widely panned” and cites an insult by an LATuckimes
's columnist. What more proof do you need? And “some people” are nervous about further development? That’s LATimes style.

2 He writes that she “invited a reporter to her house.” He never names the reporter, from whom he apparently filched all the dope about her. Or did he tag along with him/her?

Time will tell

I think Geraldo Rivera made perfect sense telling people of color that prejudiced or frightened people could react badly to hooded black or brown person. With your face and head exposed there’s less chance that wary strangers will misjudge you. It’s not right, it’s just prudent. And I felt manipulated by the press hammering pictures of the shooting victim when he was 12 or 14. To be fair they should show childhood pictures of the shooter.

Wri(o)tin’ grrrls

I like an obit as much as the next guy, but they should be just a little objective. Margalit Fox’s NYTimes praise for the late activist feminist Adrienne Rich was a bit overboard.

To wit: “Towering reputation and towering rage,” “dazzling, emphatic ferocity,” “oppression of women and lesbians” (the latter are men? AF), “Widely read, widely anthologized, widely interviewed and widely taught,” “one of the best known American public intellectuals,” “Triply marginalized - as a woman, a Lesbian, and a Jew” (in New York?”- AF), “In describing the stifling minutiae that had defined women’s lives for generations” she demanded “women’s disenfranchisement at the hands of men must end.” Her mother was a pianist and composer who, “cleaving (Shouldn’t this be ‘clinging’? AF) to social norms of the day forsook her career to marry and have children” so she “knew the strain of domestic duty firsthand.” Rich’s husband killed himself, no biggie, he had all the fun of working while she endured the agony (or, as others, such as myself, would say, the joy or privilege) of child-rearing.

This reminds me of an obit ten years ago of ferocious Andrea Zworkin who proclaimed all sex was rape. “She was just saying what all women think” wrote an obitesse.

Oy

I know I shouldn’t have accessed this, but a youtube site said “Jews in Show Business” and I went to it. I’d seen lists like this with Don Rickles, Milton Berle, Jack Benny etc. but this one promised current “outings.” I quickly learned it was an anti-Semitic site, but since I was already there I looked goggle-eyed at some of the names: Robert De Niro (I always spring him on people, since his mom was Jewish) and several SNL actors. Courtney Love? Ugh. Rachel Maddow? (Oh yeah, Rock-ell.) The Guylenhaals? Harry Connick Jr? The Phoenix brothers? Scarlett Johanssen? Deeply unlikely was Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, an avid Nazi memorabilia collector. But what do you expect from a list compiled by racists.

Proudly they serve, themself

20 years ago my friend was crippled when a police car on a chase hit her car. “You got in the way of police activity” was the reason she received no recompense.

Now a woman was killed by an LA police car on a chase. Witnesses say the cop car was “going incredibly fast” but the cops say 35, 40 tops. The embedded speed meter showed him barreling at 78 mph. The official police response is “That meter wasn’t right.”

Business

My green plastic 1950s Kleenex box doesn’t fit the tissues anymore since they shrunk the width, like they did toilet paper. Thank you Kimberley-Clark. Product adulteration is as old as commerce. Dime and quarter edges were ridged so old-timers couldn’t scrape silver from each one before passing it on. Tradition!

According to the LATimes, right before the big meta-whatsit lottery drawing, scalpers were selling blocks of tickets at multiples of face value - long odds in favor of the sellers! This is entrepreneurism at its finest. And that guy who bought a winning ticket at the same time he bought others for his coworkers and had to share the prize, his guilt or innocence could be determined simply: the “group” tix would be purchased in a recognizable block, and his extra ticket would be his. Maybe he DID get robbed. (This prattle from someone who sobbed at a near full-page four-’reporter’ front-page with jump three-photo LATimes “Lottery Fever” story.)

Ads

Two ads on tv - one for a donut chain, another for an old people mating service (Ourtime?) are set in Chicago. The old folks in the latter are in winter garb by the Trib bldg and freezing on the steps of the Art Institute. Is Chicago the new Miami? Not for the weather. Choice of scenery may be dictated by the ad agency being in Chicago.

Stars

The Burns & Allen Show, currently running on the Antenna Network, was from an earlier era than the Jack Benny Show that follows it. George & Gracie’s makeup is applied with a trowel, better to define their features for small screen, hazy early 50s tv sets. He looks like a reverse Jolson on even my low-def set ... George Clooney is testifying in Washington, and the news people are all over it because he’s famous and handsome. Not that he’s a charlatan, but Meryl Streep got tons of press and contributed plenty of credibility to the Alar (an apple growth chemical, found safe) scare in the 1990s. Why is this boondoggle never mentioned? ...

TV

Slobs are taking over tv. Jim Belushi for a start. Then poker shows with staggeringly unremarkable people, pawn shops, Louisiana gator hunters and cretins who vie for junk in unpaid storage units. Rock peek-unders like brainless housewives and the reptiles of New Jersey led to hoarders in their dens. Coming soon: garbage pickers of Utah, the incontinents of Kansas ... On a Hitchcock episode, Tony Randall is a drunk who met Jayne Mansfield but can’t remember where. At the end, he comes home and we see his wife horribly strangled, decomposed. It is shocking. Then Hitch comes on solemnly and says “Alcoholism is on the rise in America. It is a devastating disease. There is nothing funny about it.” Or words to that effect. Chilling ... On the Hitchcock episode “Outlaw in Town” the stranger in the Old West saloon matches the description of a wanted killer. The town people fight over who will turn him in for the $5000 reward, but when one guy says they should share it another says “That would be socialism.” Then the desperado agrees to be turned in if they give him some of the reward money in advance - and sells shares! The daily rate is posted on a chalk board in a ridicule of the stock market. Guess those blacklisted Commies were writing again in 1960 ... TV news: “Snow has covered the streets and blanketed the Eiffel Tower.” Did we think it would skip the Eiffel Tower? 3 ... Tornado damage, CNN: “One estimate was that it was much as 170 mph or more.” That’s undeniable ... Hearing Charles Barkley on an SNL rerun I shivered to think how people would speak if everyone was vaporized except him and Adele and they mated. Consonants would be unknown ... Seeing another SNL open with a parody of NY mayor Bloomberg harked back to when the show started nearly half my life ago. The then-new movie “Escape from New York” pictured a savage NYC of the future. When SNL put on a skit in response to it I thought ‘Boy, the way they’re really defending NY. What’s up?” I’d thought, despite the stage backdrop of a subway tunnel, that SNL was for everyone - the cast was mainly from Chicago, Canada, and LA. They assumed that NY mantle fast. The Bloomberg sketch, based on something local, didn’t register with the nation, but every generation of writers and players gets blinded by Gotham, the town you can claim in a month ... A guy on CNN, to the blonde pretty correspondent: “Could you quickly get us up to speed, since you’re on the ground?” Edward R. Murrow couldn’t’ve said it better. ... on two episodes of BBC’s Top Gear, two American comedians were spotlight guests: Paula Poundstone and Rich Hall. In 2012.

3 This echoes Johnny Standley’s “It’s In The Book” where he questions Mary’s little lamb “wagging her tail behind her. BEHIND her! Did we think she wagged it in front!”

Hooked

I joined Facebook 2 years ago. It has made no difference in my life except disappointment. People are generally railing about agreed-upon grievances, and showing what music they like through youtube clips. I have missed its various format changes because I never learned them, but recently I pressed a button and found 16 months of private messages. I wrote back to them “Please forgive my lateness, I don’t check here often. Please use email.” The few who responded used Facebook.

I hydrate (from my head to my feet) 4

Went for routine blood sample.
Came in at 11. They had told me to fast.

"You didn't drink any water today, did you?" she said.
Why do you say that?
"Your blood is slow drawing."

I didn't know morning water thinned your blood.
Three hours after waking my blood is like toothpaste.
I'm changing my life!

4 “I Vibrate (From My Head to My Feet),” a Conway Twitty song from the 50’s.

Meanwhile I’s thinkin’ ...

Do female astronauts go braless?

I read it online, so it’s not true

Phil Alvin hadn’t looked well for a while, and had surgery. I wasn’t sure it was knee or back so I Googled “Phil Alvin hospital.” What came up was shocking.

Google found the Blasters newsletter, and took beginning of the latest Phil Alvin item and added the item that had the word hospital in it - the death of our friend Chris Gaffney.

Phil Alvin is recovering from knee surgery and will not be able to perform on the ..... at home last night and died in his sleep after being admitted to the hospital.

This mismatch was logical in computer logic.

Bookshop

On a Monty Python sketch, a customer seeks a book by the Dutch author Charles Dikkens - “A Sale of Two Titties.”

Banking laffs

Posted on Facebook, a photo of sign on an ATM whose stylus is broken reads ‘PEN IS BROKEN. USE FINGER.’ Carelessly scrawled, the first two words conjoin.

The Todd Spott (from T.H. Everett, on Facebook)

Why the LATimes "Food" section -- this writer especially -- is my go-to section:

"Have you ever noticed that all of a sudden it seems that almost every restaurant you walk into is serving the same dish? Burrata salad, braised pork belly, pig's ears in some form, short ribs—and some version of Nancy Silverton's butterscotch budino. It's as if all the chefs with a certain sensibility are working from the same playbook."

Kid stuff

My kid looks at me cross-eyed and says “Why do we still have these Aladdin plates from McDonalds? I’m almost 21.”

- Well, they’re still plates.
- But they’re KID plates. I’m grown now, remember?
- Yes, but these remind me of when you were a kid.
- Me, too. So can’t we get rid of them?
- I’ll hide them when your friends come over.

I loved every minute with her til she was about 15. Then it was every other minute. Today it’s every rare minute.

Bliss

From Jim H, in Seattle, re Carlos Guitarlos:

Even though Carlos' playing drives Jeffrey nuts ("He plays," Jeffrey says, "all outside the lines!") Jeffrey does have both the issued CDs, and has found enjoyment there.
 
In some, maybe many ways, you and I are lucky we don't play. What we don't know can't hurt us.

Amen, brother!

- 57 -

Mark On The Move

It’s possible to go to South By Southwest and hear plenty of music without convention credentials ($595 and up) or $175 wristbands (which, like the pricer ones, don’t guarantee admission to “official” clubs).  The proliferation of free ‘day parties’ music industry showcases, performance stages set up by local businesses and the efforts of the city of Austin itself (open-to-all concerts at Auditorium Shores and City Hall) makes it reasonably easy to hear even the “must see” acts.  If you are clued into Twitter and other social media you can also find “pop-up” events and one-hour-notice shows.  It’s also occasionally possible to get into certain venues with cash.  I saw about thirty acts in 6 days and it cost me a total of $33.  Of course, making some clubs exclusively hip-hop and electronica/dance venues clears the path to clubs for people who want to see other music.
 
The most generous free venue was behind the coffee stand Jo’s on South Congress (across from The Continental Club, where Mojo Nixon presided over his usual free-all-day extravaganza).  There, a “South By San Jose” festival featured 32 acts noon to 9p.m over four days. Acts whose shows were difficult to get into elsewhere – like the highly-touted Alabama Shakes and indie gods Built To Spill – were available for free in reasonably comfortable surroundings. 
 
The Alabama Shakes lived up to their blazing reputation. Leader Brittany Howard, an extraordinary, soulful presence, sounded like she stepped out of a Memphis studio in 1966, with the poise of a seasoned performer (she’s 22 years old and until last year was a postal worker).  And she plays guitar like Sister Rosetta Tharpe crossed with Jack White.  They were followed by the veteran Texas soul singer Barbara Lynn, who did “You’ll Lose a Good Thing” and several other 50’s and 60’s tunes backed by a band of local ‘all-stars.’  Her voice is still great and she still plays mighty fine left-handed guitar.
 
Many cool groups in Austin nowadays include a cello.  This could be the effect of the Texas success of The Polyphonic Spree, I dunno.  I’d never heard of The Quiet Company, but after they swept the Austin Music Awards (best group, singer, best songwriter, best album etc.) I saw them in a bar called Dogwood.  They had terrific songs, excellent stage presence, and yep their main guy Taylor Muse is quite a front man.  Normally a 4-piece, they supplemented with Cody Ackors on trombone (!) and Anthony Lee Rogers on cello.  They sounded like the intersection of My Morning Jacket, U2, The Beatles and R.E.M.  I figured they were a new group just getting started, but subsequent research shows they’ve been going for a decade and have several albums out.  I’m buying all of ‘em.
 
The Quiet Company’s cello presence was bested by Mother Falcon, who rolled out 4 cellists, a violin section, bassoon, saxophones, several guitars including pedal steel, keyboards, percussionists etc. during their massively interesting set (also at South By San Jose).  This band plays classical-folk that sounds like a mash of Nick Drake and Van Dyke Parks.  I suspect they are all high school band nerds who’ve decided to form a group so large that just controlling it astounds audiences.  The leader is Nick Gregg, who plays just about anything on stage.  (I just checked the bio of one of the violinists, and she studied English, Latin and Greek in college.  Is Mother Falcon the Band From Mensa?)  They put out an EP last year and just released an album called “Alhambra” which is kinda mind-boggling in its ambition.  I can’t believe they can tour a group this large, but you never know. 
 
Waterloo Records (or more accurately, their co-sponsor, one of those vile energy drinks) wisely constructed a stage for their “in-stores” during SXSW (used to be about 60 people would cram into the aisles of the store and it was tough to have a good time – now they are “out-stores”).  I saw The Little Willies (with Norah Jones especially terrific on a version of “Jolene” 6) and Jimmy Cliff, in great voice, bringing a rewritten version of “Vietnam” called “Afghanistan” that worked well alongside “The Harder They Come,” “Wonderful World, Beautiful People” and other hits.
 
Others:  Todd Snider (seeming a bit bored playing in St. David’s Historic Sanctuary, but hilarious and tuneful as usual, with songs from his new album “Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables” juxtaposed against the church’s surroundings), Meshell Ndegeocello (her funk-folk thing still going strong), Jonathan Wilson (L.A. canyon dweller who’s got Neil Young & Crazy Horse down pat), John Fullbright (new guy from Okema, Oklahoma who sounds like early Mickey Newbury/John Prine/Steve Earle when he plays guitar/harmonica and Ray Charles/Percy Mayfield when he plays piano), Anaïs Mitchell (alt-country with an avant-garde tilt), the always-great Carolyn Wonderland (her Janis Joplin-like intensity gets me every time), Eliza Gilkyson (intense, political, funny as usual), Ponderosa (sublime Everly Bros.-type harmonies over country rock) and Howler (smartass punks from Minneapolis who want to be the second coming of The Replacements and may yet make it). 
 
One day began with a 1981 flashback, a morning show at Threadgill’s by the re-formed dB’s (Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey still blending beautifully).  Their first album in about 25 years is called “Falling Off The Sky” and comes out in June!  At midnight I traveled back to 1976 for a (partial) reunion of The Nerves/Breakaways/Plimsouls, with Paul Collins and Peter Case (“Work-a-Day World,” “I Don’t Fit In,” “Working Too Hard” and “Great Big World” were part of the too-short set).  Got to hang out in the geezer section of the East Tiger Patio with Billy Altman, Lenny Kaye and my old pal from Time-Life Music Charlie McCardell.   Good taste is timeless.
 
The music even followed me to the Austin-Bergstrom Airport.  Waiting for my plane on Monday, I faintly heard a familiar voice coming from far away.  Could it be?  Yes!  I ran down the concourse about 5 gates distant in time to see most of a set by Carolyn Wonderland, whose trio was set up at Ray Benson’s Roadhouse bar/eatery, playing and singing her heart out to about fifteen people.  Keep Austin weird!
    
    
--
Mark Leviton


6 AFM - I long for the day Norah Jones is not singled out. As does the band, I'm sure.

MOTM - I didn't want to write about them too much, but it was the highlight. Rest of the band is terrif though. I like that she's parlayed her huge-selling debut into doing whatever the hell she wants, and it's normally good. I liked her before she was cool -- saw her at a Starbuck's during SXSW the week her album was released - before it exploded!


(Mark’s sixties-themed radio show Pet Sounds can be heard alternate Wednesdays 10pm-Midnight PST on KVMR-FM 89.5 in the Sacramento area and streaming at www.kvmr.org )

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