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In the Clear

Add Ian Moore's name to the growing list of artists who have graduated from the apparent grind of major-label commitments to working for themselves. The Austin guitar prodigy released two albums for the Capricorn imprint earlier this decade, only to part ways with the label after an unspecified dispute surrounding the release of his third effort. Rest assured, Moore considers himself lucky to get out from under Capricorn. So lucky, in fact, that he's decided to release the new Ian Moore's Got the Green Grass on his own Hablador Records. The resulting freedom has allowed him the luxury of putting out the music he's always wanted to without the worry of commercial expectations.

That's not to say that Green Grass isn't accessible in its own weird way. Surely, it's Moore's most varied work to date, and it's also his most adventurous, both in the variety of styles addressed and in the wide assortment of instruments (tuba, singing saw, tabla, bouzouki, sitar) employed. For some musicians, all that variety could well be a recipe for disaster. For Moore, though, it adds up to his strongest outing to date.

The first six tracks of the 14-song Green Grass are a distinctive enough encapsulation to illustrate the diversity Moore has achieved throughout: Moore goes from the soulful, rootsy "Four Winds" to the Beatlesque psychedelia of "Airplane" to the sly and moody rock of "Closer" to the roaring jangle and pummeling beats of "Pennyroyal Tea" to the tasteful acoustic blues of "Paris, TX" to the Dixieland-style "Ain't Feeling No Pain." Besides taking big risks with his own material, he covers songs from Texan Terry Allen, Bob Dylan, Lennon and McCartney and Jimmy Cliff. A dead-on cover of the Beatles' "Hey Bulldog," from the Yellow Submarine soundtrack, stays true to the cabaret pop spirit of the Fab Four's version while superimposing Moore's distinctive guitar licks. Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross," meanwhile, is performed with a fitting gospel solemnity that shimmers.

Obviously, Moore's escape from the industry grind was just the jump-start he needed to get messy and bold. Now, it seems, the future is limitless.

-- Jim Caligiuri

Ian Moore performs Friday and Saturday, October 23 and 24, at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines open Friday; Jeff Klein opens Saturday. For info, call 869-COOL.

Jimmy LaFave -- There was a time not so long ago when Jimmy LaFave was the toast of the Austin singer/songwriter scene, poised to break into the big time, and for good reason. His keening, at times tremulous singing has always had that little glimmer of male heartbreak, and his skill as a song interpreter is well-matched by his original material. But what was once "on the verge" has become something of a plateau for LaFave -- one from where he's developed a national cult of sorts, yet also a place where he's become just a bit too comfortable. The last time I caught LaFave and his Night Tribe, it seemed that their once cutting-edge sharpness had dulled to a certain complacency -- as if, having found his sweet spot, LaFave has gorged himself on it. But even if his act no longer bleeds urgency, LaFave remains one of the more reliable bets on the crooner/scribe circuit. On Friday, October 23, at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk. Showtime 8:30 p.m. Tickets $12. 528-5999. (Rob Patterson)

Mix Master Mike -- After joining the Beastie Boys on their latest tour, San Francisco turntablist Mix Master Mike is embarking on a solo jaunt in support of his Anti-Theft Device CD. A member of the semi-legendary DJ crew, the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Mike was a three-time winner in the Disco Mixing Championships before he was asked to retire from the competition so someone else might have a chance. Yep, he's that good. An eccentric without peer, he's been known to drop the needle on classic rock, old-school jazz, outer-space noises and Brady Bunch samples -- layering them atop beats that skitter, scratch and stutter. Sure, there will be plenty of eyes watching his hands work the wheels of steel, trying to figure out his moves, but Mix Master's trip is more about feel than technical mastery. On Friday, October 23, at the Waxx, 1601 Leeland (at Crawford). Doors 9 p.m. Cover $10 ($12 after 11 p.m.). 655-WAXX. (David Simutis)

 
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