Move Over, Flickerstick

Dallas has some new reality show kings. A Dozen Furies has won The Battle for Ozzfest, a contest whose spoils include $60,000, a slew of new gear from Guitar Center, a spot on next year's Ozzfest and a recording contract with Sanctuary Records (home to Black Sabbath). The winners were announced on a live show Monday night following a week of online voting that pitted the Furies against North Carolina-based Cynder. Props to affable guitarist Marc Serrano, 25, who competed against seven other musicians from across the country, each representing a different group, in a contest that seemed hell-bent on making everyone involved look asinine. Some cast members didn't need any help, as the series made sure to pad the crew with empty-headed spazzes certain to make things (kind of) interesting. In the end, Serrano rose above it, managing to even rock a leather bikini onstage and somehow keep his dignity. It doesn't hurt that he's as adorable as a Pound Puppy. "Look at him, he's so cute," one of his band members said before the band performed Monday night. "I just wanna kiss him."

No, this does not mean the Old 97's are breaking up: Rhett Miller has signed a solo contract with Verve Music Group, the major-label home for Diana Krall, Jamie Cullum and Edie Brickell. Miller was dropped from Elektra (along with his band) following the release of his underrated solo debut, The Instigator. Miller will start recording sometime this spring along with returning members Jon Brion, who produced The Instigator, and Salim Nourallah, who played bass.

Marvelous things: Eisley has booked a CD release show at the Gypsy Tea Room on February 18 for their Reprise Records debut, Room Noises. The much-anticipated CD features 12 tracks, four of which have been previously released on their EPs ("Telescope Eyes," "Memories," "Marvelous Things" and "I Wasn't Prepared"). Not surprisingly, the CD is packed with moments of chilling beauty and a sound that is similar but more elegant, even playful. Just wish they'd change that name. Room noises? Sounds kinda dirty.

Remembering Tracey Sauerwein: Talk about your what-the-hell moments: Last week, The Dallas Morning News ran a short blurb on its Overnight page announcing that, on January 8, there would be a memorial service at the Laurel Land Funeral Home for Tracey Sauerwein, who, in the early 1990s, was rhythm guitarist in the Toadies. Not only was the announcement of her death a surprise, even to those who had known her for years, but so, too, was the fact that she had died more than a month earlier, on November 25. "That puzzled me," says former Toadies drummer Mark Reznicek. "I didn't know anything about it." Neither, apparently, did her former bandmates.

The cause of Sauerwein's death remains unclear: She apparently died on November 25 on the couch of her Dallas home and was found the following day by a relative, according to police accounts. The Dallas County Medical Examiner is awaiting a toxicology report before making any official ruling, says a spokesperson contacted January 11.

Though Sauerwein was in the Toadies only a short time--from early 1991, when she answered a guitarist-wanted ad in the Dallas Observer, till the summer of '92, when she was replaced by Darrel Herbert--and appears on only one official release, the cassette-only EP Velvet, she had a sizable impact on its sound. "She had a lot to do with the groove of 'Possum Kingdom,'" says Reznicek, who, before joining the Toadies, played with Sauerwein in a band called In the Midst. "She definitely made some contributions to the feel of the playing, because she was pretty good technically--a lot better than any of us at the time...And Velvet really captured the ferocious quality we had at the time."

After leaving the Toadies, Sauerwein went back to her job selling ads for The Wall Street Journal and, in 1996, released an EP with her band Hairstick.-- Robert Wilonsky

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Sarah Hepola