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Celting Point

Plus: Less Donna McK., archiving Texas folk music, and Iggy's eats Jelly

When your band's life spans the course of 31 years and 30 albums, you make some friends in the business. Maybe that's why these interviews I do with Chieftains leader Paddy Maloney each time the Irish-music band comes through town turn out sounding like Maloney is reciting a Who's Who of music notables while I just kick back and let the tape run. This one, conducted on the phone from Maloney's NYC Fitzgerald Hotel digs, came the morning after the Chieftains had performed the first of two nights of a Roger Daltrey Sings Pete Townshend tribute. The acoustic traditionalists pooled talents with Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Eddie Vedder ("he was absolutely fantastic") and 4 Non Blondes' Linda Parry ("she was the funniest woman in the world!") in honor of the grand old man of mod rock. Or maybe, considering the recent revival of Townshend's Tommy, that should be the grand old man of overblown Broadway self-cannibalization. The Chieftains played a rearrangement of "Baba O'Reilly" closing in an Irish polka.

Sinead O'Connor has agreed to record a few songs with the band and serve as Very Special Guest for the Chieftains' St. Patrick's Day gig at Carnegie Hall -- I wonder if she knows they once opened for the Pope? -- and Maloney and company are presently in the midst of recording The Chieftains and Friends, featuring appearances by Marianne Faithful, Mick Jagger, Bono, Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler, "fellow Celt" Tom Jones, Ry Cooder and, yawn, Jerry Garcia. One assumes Guns 'n Roses celebrity sit-in guitarist Slash was invited, but perhaps he's recovering from his latest guest spot on this week's most unintentionally embarrassing belly-laugh of an album: Carole King in Concert. Slash contributes solos on "Hold Out for Love" and "Locomotion."

Meanwhile, though, on Tuesday the Chieftains are up for another Grammy for Celtic Harp. ("Can't be too greedy," says Maloney. "We got two of 'em last year"), and ready for a Houston gig at the Arena Theatre March 3. To hear the band live is to be stricken with awe.

Anyone who thinks Houston's commercial radio stations don't give enough play to local music better get ready for less. Word filters down that KLOL DJ Donna McKenzie's Sunday night New Texas Radio program has been chopped from two hours to one. This, of course, hot on the heels of the introduction of KLOL's latest on-air slogan: "The best classic rock, and the best new rock." My suggestion? "KTRU... now more than ever..."

Way down on the other end of the musical spectrum, University of North Texas Press just reissued the Singin' Texas book, a collection and appreciation of Texas folk songs and lore that's been out of print since its first publication as an extra for the Texas Folklore Society in 1983. Written by Folklore Society secretary/editor and member of the East Texas String Ensemble Francis Edward Abernathy, with music notation by Dan Beaty, the book collects history, songs and some thoroughly charming photographs on its way to providing one hell of a coffeetable treasure for folk buffs.

You should see... Sugar Shack before someone ships the boys off to the nursing home. Specifically, Friday night at Royal Jelly. If I had this band's stamina... oh, never mind. Two Austin bands -- Death Valley and Stretford -- described variously and respectively as Spaghetti Western surf soundtrack and post-Buzzcocks power pop, are opening for what I'm told is Royal Jelly's last gasp of "alternative music." The official announcement is pending, but sources tell me that post-Sugar Shack, Royal Jelly's adjacent sister club, Iggy's Icehouse, will absorb its gothic sibling, becoming, simply, Iggy's Icehouse and Lounge. Apparently the powers-that-be have decided to go with their strong suit, and Iggy's blues lineup has been a perky recent draw, so expect double-barreled two-stage blues in the near future.

It Shall Be Released... Harvey's Club Deluxe, which seems to have survived the fall of Catal with at least the Sunday night Poetry Slam intact, hosts a tape-release party Friday, March 4 for the as-yet-untitled product of local boys Dixie Waste. One day later, Rice U. faves Dyn@mutt are scheduled to release their debut CD, A Handbook for Young Scientists. No release party that I've heard of, but you can start looking for it in stores.

To close on an unhappy note, we are compelled to announce that local music fixture Louis Baldovin, better known to his fans as Johnny Fix, took his own life on the morning of Friday, February 18. Fix was 37 years old. He'd played with Houston bands including the Saltwater Cats, Penguins, Rovers, Lick and, most recently, Johnny Fix and the Voxtones, and he was largely responsible for putting together the Outback Pub's weekly Beatles Jams of the past two years. Funeral services were held February 22 in Pearland.

 
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