Scene, heard

North Texas by South by Southwest

We won't be hypocritical and claim that we've ever been big fans of the North Texas New Music Festival, but we'll admit the organization has made several steps in the right direction in the past year. The latest is, perhaps, the best yet, though nothing can really top getting rid of the unfortunate Topaz Awards. (After we found ours -- the 1998 trophy for Best Publication -- a few days ago when we were cleaning off our desk, it was a struggle to remember exactly what it meant. Oh, yeah...not much.) NTNMF has teamed up with Crystal Clear Sound, Etherstream.com, CD Warehouse, One Ton Records, Last Beat Records, and Ffroe Records to present the North Texas New Music Showcase at the upcoming South by Southwest Music Festival. The free showcase, which happens from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 18 at Babe's, will include performances by Fixture, Valve, Slow Roosevelt, Chomsky, and Pinkston. All in all, a pretty good way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Austin. Count us in, at least as long as no one's offering free barbecue and beer somewhere else...

And the counter-programming continues: In the shadow of SXSW, Curtain Club, Club Clearview, and Club Dada will present the 4th annual Southwest Sampler on March 15, with a lineup culled from the bands heading to Austin for the music festival. For $5, fans get admission into all three clubs to see a variety of bands, including Murder City Devils, The Red Elvises, Dragmatic, Orbit, Twelve Volt Sex, On Trial, Rutabaga, Betty Blowtorch, Young Blood Brass Band, Buckfast Superbee, American Steel, Phantom Power, Los Infernos, and many more. Denton's Rick's Place is also giving people a reason to stay in the area during SXSW week as well, though its inflated schedule on March 17 and 18 is centered around local talent, specifically Denton. On March 17, Cornhole, Asphalt the Recorder, Baptist Generals, .357 Lover, and Clutch Cargo perform; Cavedweller, Pointy Shoe Factory, Gropius, Golden Vipers, Lift to Experience, and Budapest One will play the following night. A $6 wristband allows fans admission to the club on both nights. Somehow, only one of the bands (Golden Vipers) performing at Rick's Place that weekend features John Freeman. That must be against some city ordinance...

In addition to the Rick's Place shindig, the Baptist Generals will also perform at The X in Denton on March 9, celebrating the rerelease of last year's Dog EP on Quality Park Records. The new version of Dog comes with a few new tracks tacked on, and the entire disc has been remastered by Matt Barnhart. Dog is available now via the Quality Park Web site, www.qualityparkrecords.com, and officially hits stores on March 14. Listen to it again for the first time...

Speaking of the Dixie Chicks (well, we were), the band is featured on the cover of the inaugural issue of Country Music Today, the new magazine from the fine folks at Country Music Television -- which, incidentally, is billed as "the country music magazine with an attitude." (Wait a minute -- then what does that make the Dallas Observer?) The accompanying story is a bit confusing, however. For example, writer Stephen L. Betts first refers to 1998's Wide Open Spaces as the Chicks' debut album (it was their fourth, actually), and later contradicts himself by mentioning the first three albums the band recorded when they were "four big-haired Texas gals in frilly cowgirl outfits, playing hard-driving acoustic bluegrass on street corners." The article is full of other informative facts, such as banjo player Emily Robison's desire to be reincarnated as "Pamela Lee's figure," and that singer Natalie Maines doesn't understand quantum physics. And all this time we thought she did...

The Nixons are the latest local band to fall from the ranks of the major labels. The group's forthcoming album, Latest Thing, will not be released on MCA Records, the label that issued 1995's lame Foma and 1998's lamer The Nixons. Rather, the disc will be coming out on KOCH Records on April 11. If you ask us, we'd have preferred that it not come out at all. The group will showcase its limited wares on March 16 at SXSW with a performance at Lucy's. Guess who won't be there. Accompanying a copy of Latest Thing was a press kit featuring this little nugget of information from Nixons frontman Zac Malloy: "The Web site is a way for fans to log on and find out what is going on in our little rock world." Really? Gosh, we had no idea a computer could do all of that! Later, Malloy promises to get back out on the road, so his band can "take our music to the people and reach out and touch their lives." He's already touched ours, brutha...

While we're on the subject of signings, Idol Records has snapped up two local bands, Clumsy and The Mag 7; their names might not be familiar, but their members probably are. Clumsy features guitarist Nate Fowler and bassist Kinley Wolfe (both formerly of The American Fuse), as well as singer-guitarist Mark Solomon, who played with ex-Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson in Perfect. The group, which also includes drummer Mike Brien, will begin recording its debut in April and performs at Liquid Lounge on March 2. Meanwhile, The Mag 7 -- bassist Doni Blair (Hagfish) and Slowride guitarist Dan Phillips and drummer Scott Brayfield -- begins recording its follow-up to last year's Eighth Round Knockout in the next few weeks...

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