Hank, junior

Wayne Hancock rides shotgun down the Lost Highway

"When I started playin' the little honky-tonks on the Gladewater Highway in East Texas, I was around 13 or 14," Hancock says. "I'd play all the little juke joints and pool halls and dives, and those people knew the same people I did musically, so it was never any problem, but when you're a nobody goin' around singing, it was hard to get an audience from the 1980s to like stuff from the 1950s. You could always find young people who knew who Hank Williams was, but they were...well, not exactly rednecks, but a lot of big-time alcoholics.

"I used to have to play dives full of old ugly women and their boyfriends who were in their 40s with their pants sliding down the crack of their ass when they put their quarter in the jukebox. It was awful. But now we play for people who are into the music--the old traditional people and the guys doin' metal who like us because we got three lead guitars and a steel guitar. I must say, the quality has improved tremendously."

Wayne "The Train" Hancock performs September 22 at the Sons of Hermann Hall. The Derailers open.

Easy pill to swallow
Another one bites the dust: As of this week, Tablet has joined the ranks of Metroplex bands signed to major labels. Though the deal is being finalized as you read this, the band is set to become the latest addition to the Mercury Records roster--which also includes the likes of Bon Jovi, KISS, John Mellencamp, Joan Osborne, and Def Leppard. (With the exception of Catherine Wheel, Greta, and Redd Kross, Mercury isn't exactly overflowing with so-called alt-rock artists.)

Tablet's manager Shaun Edwardes--who also helped Vibrolux secure its deal with Atlas-Polydor earlier this summer--says terms of the contract are still being negotiated, but it likely will be for seven albums. "It's fairly standard," Edwardes says of the deal, which will call for a certain number of guaranteed albums with the rest being optional (meaning the label can choose to accept or decline them).

The ink might just be drying on the contract, but Tablet is scheduled to begin recording their first Mercury album at the end of this week in Los Angeles, with Matt Hyde (Jane's Addiction, Porno for Pyros) producing. Edwardes says the album is due for release as early as February 1996--about two months before Vibrolux is scheduled to have its major-label debut in stores.

The band was signed to the label by Aaron Jacoves, vice-president of A&R, with the blessing of Mercury president Ed Eckstine, who flew to Dallas earlier this summer and caught a Tablet show at Trees.

"Ed liked it, " Edwardes says, "then we did a showcase at the Dragonfly in Los Angeles at the end of June, so we had all the A&R people there. We had a few other labels interested--A&M was one, Atlantic was another--but we decided we liked Aaron and Ed and Mercury. Aaron seemed to be in touch with where the band's coming from. He's been in to see them four or five times."

Scene, heard
The New York City-based Dragmules--the band of Dallas expatriates that features Johnny McNabb (ex of Rumble), Josh Weinberg (formerly of The Daylights), and onetime State Bar-tender Trippy Thompson--has released its debut 2A on Atlantic Records. It's dedicated to Jay Lavender...

Pantera lead...uh...singer Phil Anselmo will debut his new band Down September 21 at Deep Ellum Live. From its inception, Down--which also features Pepper Keenan of Corrosion of Conformity and members of Crowbar and Eye Hate God--"was going to be a band that was influenced by bands that were influenced by Sabbath before it was cool to be influenced by Sabbath," Keenan explains. "Dig?" Dug...

Texas Jewboy Richard "Kinky" Friedman will read from and sign copies of his new book God Bless John Wayne September 23 at Borders Books & Music beginning at 3 p.m. Friedman has also released a terrific new CD of outtakes and rarities from his '70s heyday as America's sweetheart of the rodeo and synagogue, appropriately titled From One Good American to Another...

Angus Wynne--the man responsible, once upon a time, for bringing the likes of Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix to town for their first local appearances--has joined with Dallas Alley to help breathe new life into the R&B club Blues Alley; over the years, the venue has also been the disco-rock Boiler Room and a country-music club. Initially, Wynne, who was also responsible for the legendary Texas International Pop Festival in 1969, will book the club and piece together a house band (just like the old days) featuring local R&B players who used to tour with the likes of Johnnie Taylor and Bobby Bland. "I'm trying to focus on the classic R&B material that was indigenous to the Southwest and Texas," Wynne says. "It ought to be very exciting and dance-worthy." As proof, he's brought local soul legend Al "TNT" Braggs into the club for shows not to be missed...

At 3 p.m. on September 22, The Toadies will sign copies of their hit album Rubberneck at the Best Buy on LBJ Freeway and Midway Road--the sure sign of stardom in anyone's book...

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