Field Reportings from Issue #8
FOR THE SAKE OF THE SONG: The two-night TOWNES VAN ZANDT tribute held at the Cactus Cafe in Austin Jan. 22-23 and reviewed in this issue’s “Miked” section was just one of several such concerts that popped up across the nation in the wake of the songwriter’s death of a heart attack at age 52 on New Year’s day. The others (that we know of), in addition to the funeral service that was held in Nashville on Jan. 5, were as follows: Albany, N.Y., Borders Books, Jan. 11; Houston, Rockefeller’s, Jan. 29; Seattle, Tractor Tavern, Feb. 4; New York City, Bottom Line, Feb. 23; Los Angeles, Ash Grove, March 2….
KUT-Austin DJ Larry Monroe, who hosted the Cactus Cafe tribute nights and wrote the report of it in the “Miked” section, recently completed a CD documentary on Van Zandt scheduled for release in April on Mango Records in the U.S. and Normal in Germany….
Meanwhile, Kevin Eggers of Tomato Records posted a note to a Van Zandt internet mailing list in January with some apparent news about a recording project at Fire Station Studios in San Marcos, Texas, that began more than five years ago. In a September 1995 interview, Van Zandt spoke of sessions that involved re-recording 62 of his songs with an all-star cast that included Doug Sahm and Freddy Fender. Eggers’ post to the “about-townes” mailing list spoke of a four-CD box set of 60 new recordings featuring several duets with well-known performers, scheduled for release in October. In the 1995 interview, asked why this long-in-the-works project had yet to see the light of day on Tomato, Van Zandt responded: “I think they’re waitin’ till I’m dead, as a matter of fact,” then adding, in reference to his wife and business manager Jenean Van Zandt, “but it won’t do ’em any good because Jeanene is still here.”
READ THE LABEL: Austin-area label DEJADISC, whose catalog included the debut records of Richard Buckner and Wayne Hancock as well as other artists both within and outside the alt-country realm, has closed its doors, with founder Steve Wilkison moving to Nashville and landing at Compass Records….
EAST SIDE DIGITAL, whose catalog includes releases by the Bottle Rockets, Blood Oranges and its offshoots, Go To Blazes (who, incidentally, played their farewell gig in January at Penn State), Eric Ambel, the Schramms, the Yayhoos and others, has mutated into “East Side/North Side” and apparently will be redirecting its roster toward other musical genres….
North/South Carolina band 6 STRING DRAG has signed to E-SQUARED, which will release a single by the band in April and a full-length disc in late summer or early fall. …
Also apparently joining the E-Squared roster is former Blood Oranges member CHERI KNIGHT, with plans for the label to also pick up her 1996 ESD solo debut The Knitter….
Nashville singer-songwriter R.B. MORRIS, featured on last fall’s Bloodshot Records The Other Side Of The Alley compilation, has signed with John Prine’s Oh Boy Records….
KELLY WILLIS has been dropped by A&M. So have the ASS PONIES…
What’s all this fuss about MALT RECORDS?
WHO’S ON FIRST: Big Star drummer JODY STEPHENS has taken over the drum seat in that Midwestern supergroup GOLDEN SMOG, who apparently are planning to do another record….
MIKE WERNER has left the Handsome Family…
STEPHEN DESAULNIERS has left the Scud Mountain Boys and recently had a brief stint as fill-in bassist with fellow Northampton, Mass., band Angry Johnny & the Killbillies.
THE SINGING BRAKEMAN: A tribute to country music forefather JIMMIE RODGERS due out this spring will include the following tracks: Bob Dylan (with Emmylou Harris), “My Blue Eyed Jane”; Bono, “Dreaming With Tears In My Eyes”; Van Morrison, “Mule Skinner Blues”; Alison Krauss, “Any Old Time”; John Mellencamp, “Gambling Bar Room Blues”; Aaron Neville, “Why Should I Be Lonely?”; Steve Earle, “In The Jailhouse Now”; Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Somewhere Below The Mason Dixon Line”; Dickey Betts, “Waiting For A Train”; David Ball, “Miss The Mississippi And You”; Willie Nelson, “Peach Picking Time Down In Georgia” ; Dwight Yoakam, “T Is For Texas”; Iris Dement, “Hobo Bill’s Last Ride”; Jerry Garcia, “Blue Yodel #9”.
IT’TH A FETHTIVAL: “MERLEFEST ’97” an annual tribute concert in honor of the late Merle Watson, is April 24-27 at Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Among the artists scheduled to appear: Thursday, Doc Watson, Blue Highway, Lonesome River Band; Friday, Tim O’Brien & the O’Boys, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Chesapeake, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Del McCoury Band, Guy Clark; Saturday, Norman & Nancy Blake, Ricky Skaggs, Junior Brown, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Rankin Family, Peter Rowan & Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Sam Bush Band; Sunday, George Hamilton IV & V, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle….
Plans are afoot on Postcard2, an internet mailing list and discussion group about alternative-country music, for an event tentatively titled “TWANGFEST” to be held June 13-14 in St. Louis at the Off Broadway nightclub. The event, featuring mostly unsigned acts and comprised entirely of bands who have members that are regulars of the Postcard2 mailing list, will include performances by the Sovines (Columbus, Ohio), Lefty (Chicago), Belle Starr (St. Louis), Ghost Rockets (Hoboken, New Jersey), Roy Kasten (St. Louis), One Riot One Ranger (Columbus, Ohio), Edith Frost (New York City), Fear & Whiskey (Lawrence, KS) and Cash Hollow (San Fransisco, CA). For more information, contact organizer Kip Loui at louicm@SLU.EDU.