Scene, Heard

Holiday schmoozing

Other than Flag Day, the holiday season is the best time for Scene, Heard because we seem to run into everyone, and since most of the crash sites happen to be parties, more than a few of the people you bump into are in the mood to talk. (What's the deal with Flag Day, you ask? Uh, that's between us and our lawyer, thankyouverymuch.) For example, since he did say it was one of his new year's resolutions when he sidled up to us during Todd Deatherage's set at the Gypsy Tea Room on New Year's Eve, we'll go ahead and give Zach Blair no room to back out. Blair has a new band in the works, featuring himself on guitar and vocals, his brother Doni on bass, and drummer Mitch Marine, whom you may remember from his stints in Brave Combo and Tripping Daisy (locally) and Smash Mouth (recently). The fledgling group's name is Armstrong, and Blair says its sound will be along the lines of Burning Airlines, the outfit headed by Jawbox expat J. Robbins. Look for the band to show what Blair was telling in the next few months. In the meantime, Blair has apparently signed on to play guitar with The Deathray Davies, which is in addition to his less-frequent gigs with Hagfish and GWAR, also in that capacity. Blair's hiring is just in time for the Deathrays, as the band will be traveling around the state in January (including an Idol Records showcase at the Red Eyed Fly in Austin, with Chomsky and Clumsy) and throughout the Midwest in February.

A few days earlier, prior to another year-end shindig, we ran into Old Navy employee-of-the-month candidate Christy Darlington at one of Snider Plaza's finer establishments, Los Vaqueros, and the former/current/former/current singer-guitarist for Darlington (the band) said that he's getting the group back together. Which didn't come as much of a surprise, since Darlington never really breaks up, even when it does. So what's new this time? Well, for starters, Christy and his better half, drummer Steve Visneau, aren't just giving it another go with yet another soon-to-be-ex bassist this time around: Christy says that original bassist Ron "Ripper" Malippa will be in tow when Darlington hits the stage again, probably in March. What else is new about this latest incarnation of the band? Um, not much, from what we can tell, but seeing the three of them back together should be good enough. For now. You can catch Visneau playing with his pal Todd Deatherage, and look for Darlington pushing the boundaries of the dress code at the Old Navy in NorthPark Center.

Finally, judging by what we hear from a former colleague in town for the holidays, Centro-matic's recent European tour went well enough that the group is already making plans to return early this year. Apparently among those plans is a stop at legendary BBC DJ John Peel's country house to record a few live tunes for Peel's show, what they call in the business a Peel session. We've heard that the session has been penciled in for February, but since this is all still in the realm of conjecture (where we've built a small cottage near the rumor mill), don't go writing anything in pen just yet. As long as we're still speculating, we wouldn't be surprised if a couple (or all) of the Peel recordings turn up on this side of the Atlantic at some point, maybe even on Quality Park Records' planned The Static vs. The Strings Vol. II. Just remember: It doesn't happen until it happens. And if it doesn't happen at all, well, you didn't hear it from us...

Already slinging his ax with Hagfish, GWAR, and The Deathray Davies, Zach Blair is ready to step up to the mike with Armstrong.
Marina Chavez
Already slinging his ax with Hagfish, GWAR, and The Deathray Davies, Zach Blair is ready to step up to the mike with Armstrong.

With the latest additions to its release schedule, Washington, D.C.-based Beatville Records appears to be doing for area bands what Interscope Records did in the mid-'90s, at least on a small scale. After releasing the pAper chAse's Young Bodies Heal Quickly, You Know and Kid Chaos' Love in the Time of Scurvy (on its Vile Beat imprint) in 2000, Beatville is set to put out debut full-lengths by [DARYL] (tentatively titled The Technology) and Lucy Loves Schroeder later this year. Both records are in the finishing stages now, though there is no official word on when to expect their release. And speaking of Lucy Loves Schroeder, or at least LLS singer-guitarist Sara Radle, the debut by her solo project Fred Savage Fanclub, Jelly Beans With Belly Buttons, should be out now on Denton's She's Gone Records, after a few of the usual delays. Speaking of technical problems, Baboon's live album, A Bum Note and a Bead of Sweat, will hit the streets on January 23 (courtesy of Last Beat Records), after problems adding a video to the disc. The usual release shindig happens at Trees on January 20, so stop by and pick up a copy or three...

After a brief hiatus, Good Records is back in the in-store-performance bidness, with a trio of shows coming before the month is through. First up is a gig by Low on January 25 at 6 p.m., prior to the band's appearance at the Gypsy Tea Room later that night. (By the way, we recently received a copy of Low's forthcoming Things We Lost in the Fire--due in February on Kranky Records--and based on that, we'd strongly recommend checking out Alan Sparhawk and company as often as possible while they're in the area.) Following Low's lead, Cursive is set to perform at Good on January 28 at 4 p.m, and River City High will stop by on January 31 at 6 p.m. We're sure it's just the start of a year full of in-store Goodness, but don't let that keep you from missing out on these three. Study long, study wrong...

Contrary to popular belief--well, our misguided thoughts, anyway--Ben Kweller is not actually selling copies of Sha Sha (Radish's long-lost follow-up to 1997's major-label debut, Restraining Bolt) on his Web site (www.benkweller.com), and that isn't the only place you can find Kweller's solo material after all. You can indeed purchase songs from Sha Sha, however: "The songs from that album are actually scattered across the three solo albums"--Freak Out, It's...Ben Kweller; Melange; and Bromeo--"being offered from the site," reports Matt Morgan, the director of street affairs ("unless we come up with a better title," he notes) for Team BK, Kweller's grassroots marketing team. Morgan adds that the discs can also be found at the Borders Books and Music location on Coit and Arapaho, though at the moment, only Freak Out is in stock. (More should be on the way once Kweller returns from vacation in Argentina.) We should point out that the Coit and Arapaho location is the only Borders outlet carrying the Kweller albums at the time. Hey, it's worth the drive...

While we don't always agree with folks over at Spin--listing "your hard drive" as the best "album" of last year was certainly, uh, precious--they do make a good decision every once in a while. For example, the mag invited Slobberbone to perform acoustic renditions of a few songs during one of the band's recent visits to New York. The results, top-notch versions of "Dunk You in the River" and "Lazy Guy," can be found at Spin.com. And the band itself can be found at the Gypsy Tea Room on January 12, opening for The Jayhawks...

File under "slim pickings": Erykah Badu picked up a couple of Grammy nominations--Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song--for "Bag Lady" (off the otherwise disappointing Mama's Gun) when the nominees were announced on January 3. The late Johnnie Taylor also got a nod in the Best Traditional R&B Vocal Album category, for his Gotta Get the Groove Back. In addition to Taylor and Badu, the Dixie Chicks are up for one award, Best Country Collaboration With Vocals, though the group was nominated twice: "Strong Enough," their teaming with Sheryl Crow on Crow's Live From Central Park, and "Walk Softly," the Chicks' joint with Ricky Skaggs, from Big Mon: The Songs of Bill Monroe. Other local acts singled out by the Recording Academy include Pantera (Best Metal Performance, for Reinventing the Steel), The Light Crust Doughboys (Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album, for their team-up with James Blackwood and The Jordanaires, The Great Gospel Hit Parade), and erstwhile local boy Don Henley, who must have some friends at the Academy, since his dreadful Inside Job is up for Best Pop Vocal Album, as well as Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for "Workin' It." Winners will be announced on February 21, when the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards is broadcast live from Los Angeles' Staples Center. Not counting the local folks, the nominees for this year's edition of the Grammys are a bit hipper than in years past--including Beck, Radiohead, and the Foo Fighters, among others. But until they get rid of the stilted categories--isn't Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album just a little too specific?--there will be no winners...

According to Quality Park Records' Matt Barnhart, the long-delayed full-length album from Wiring Prank might actually come eventually. When? Well, that's still up in the air, but the band has indeed finished recording the as-yet-untitled disc. Barnhart said on the Quality Park Web site (www.qualityparkrecords.com) that he hopes the album will be ready by the summer. Meanwhile, Wiring Prank should be playing some live shows in January and February, before locking themselves away until the album is fit for consumption. Barnhart won't be sitting around waiting, since he has a full schedule of releases set for next year, including Legendary Crystal Chandelier's untitled sophomore album, a split CDEP with Centro-matic and Vermont, a seven-inch single from [DARYL], and tentative releases by Little Grizzly and the Baptist Generals...

Get out: Earl Harvin Trio (rumored to have a new record on the way, possibly some sort of dub experiment, from what we hear) plays Trees on January 12, with Sub Oslo; Unit 33 and The Falcon Project perform at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios on January 11, Chomsky, The Deathray Davies, and The Shells (fronted by Good Records' Carlos Jackson) are there the following night, and Sub Oslo is at Rubber Gloves on January 13; Clumsy releases its debut for Idol Records, Center of Attention Deficit Disorder, on January 11 at Club Clearview; and Carter Albrecht plays Club Dada on January 13.

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