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Austinite and former Houston homeboy Jessie Dayton is still being coy about the label deal he's reportedly on the verge (at press time) of signing, and since we've waited this long, I guess I'll be coy, too, and let the ink dry before spilling the beans, but we know this much: Dayton's already in someone's studio putting together the pieces for a debut to consolidate the best of those incessant demos he's always recording. In the meantime, though, Dayton has put together an interim band for a few one-off live performances. Anyone familiar with Dayton's work with the Road Kings and the Alamo Jets might be surprised to find that his backing band on recent opening dates for Kelly Willis in San Antonio and the Blasters in Fort Worth comprised Darin Murphy (formerly of Trish and Darin) and Charlie Sanders (ex-Missiles). Sanders plays electric and upright bass, Murphy sits behind the drum kit and Dayton riffs on table steel and Telecaster. Opening for the Blasters at Fort Worth's Caravan of Dreams, Dayton, Murphy and Sanders reportedly drew a standing ovation. Dayton either can't or won't say what the lineup of his post-debut touring band will look like, or whether Sanders and Murphy will be involved, only that "We were hanging out, writing songs and just fucking off, so we decided to play a few gigs. And we're gonna do some more shows, let's put it that way." Nothing confirmed yet, but Dayton's hoping to bring the trio to Houston in the near future, so keep an eye out.

It's Nice to be Recognized... Flip through a copy of the March issue of Request music magazine at your local Stop N Go or Sam Goody record shop, and you might be surprised to find a little recommendation column called "The Request List," which, if you read it, will recommend Houston's own Beat Temple and the band's Lemon and Honey cassette. "Sly Stone meets Seal with a kind of Earth Wind and Fire peace/love vibe. Beat Temple uses rich arrangements and uplifting lyrics, and the album's liner notes call for peace in new Third World countries and the inner cities," writes Request art director Scott Anderson. I showed the clip to Temple keyboardist Rick, since he happens to live upstairs, and he'd never heard of Request. He just stood there shaking his head, wondering how in hell some art director got his hands on Beat Temple's tape. I finally had to tell him to leave. It just goes to show you: good press contacts can take you a long way.

South by Southwest is creeping its way around again, with the industry brouhaha scheduled for March 15-19 in Austin. Sugar's Bob Mould has been announced as the keynote speaker for '95, which seems sorta appropriate, since almost all the invited acts are already signed to established labels (or from Austin; apparently the SXSW tradition of relaxing quality standards for the hometown heroes continues). Thirteen Houston acts are clutching invitations -- a slight rise over last year's eight. They are: Big Mello, "Texas" Johnny Brown and the Quality Blues Band, Conscious Man, Crimeboss, Dive, Fliponya, The Jinkies, The Last Wish, Mad Scientist, Manhole, Psyko Ward, The Suspects and Vice Grip. If you haven't heard of some of these, don't worry. Neither have I. They're local rap acts, who are quickly making the hip-hop showcases at SXSW a Houston-dominated event, even if our town can't get a reasonable cross-section of rock represented to save its life.

The horse they rode in on... When vocalist/frontman/graphic artist Mike Haaga left dead horse late last year, the rumors that the horse had fallen ran wild. Sorry. Come to find out, that rumor had as little basis in fact as the polite civilities shoveled to the press by both camps when Haaga and the band split. At the time, Haaga said he felt the band had stalled, and remaining members Allen Price, Greg Martin and Ronnie Guyote sent out a press release claiming an amicable split over artistic differences. Very polite. Now, though, dead horse has recruited singer/guitarist Scott Sevall -- formerly with Austin band Force Fed -- and shuffled Martin to frontman position. The band is in Deep Dot Studios with Sound Virus' Darryl Menken, recording a six-song shopping demo, and they debuted the new lineup with a 25-minute set at the Abyss last Saturday night. Now, Price is willing to tell his side of what happened, which boils down quite simply to his claim that Haaga left the group after demanding complete musical control and being denied. But if Price still harbors a drop of residual anger toward Haaga, he's got a small sea of it to dump on former dead horse manager Tom Bunch. "He thought Mike was the backbone behind the band. Tom won't even return our calls anymore, and that's sad, because to work with him we fired two real good friends of ours. And he won't even return our calls anymore."

dead horse is scheduled to play April 1 at the Urban Art Bar, and March 4 in College Station on a bill with Planet Shock! and Dive, though I hear that Dive has now inexplicably, regrettably, perhaps necessarily, but for some stupid reason changed its name to Osmona.

-- Brad Tyer

 
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