Dancing Fool

I can't believe I did it, but do it I did. You may have heard the spots on KQUE advertising the US Homes-sponsored Forties Follies dances held at various hotel ballrooms around town, but if you're old enough to be in that ad's audience, you probably don't read me, and if you read me, you probably can't dance. Nonetheless, Saturday last I got talked into spiffing up and driving out to the Astrodome Sheraton to shuffle around the dance floor in the company of several hundred more, er, experienced folks and one very patient and persuasive companion as the Cary Richards Orchestra swung the night away. Sure, Richards' versions of swing classics were usually abbreviated to two minutes or less -- in deference to the increasingly limited stamina of the crowd -- and sure, emcee and KQUE DJ/legend Paul Berlin made too damn many obscure references to Navy trivia, but where else can you go to sharpen your fledgling hoofing skills in relative anonymity, buy yourself a few reasonably priced cocktails to loosen up, and win a free AAA membership in the raffle drawing all on the same night? The next dance is scheduled for August 26, and the folks at Don's Record Shop, who not only make extraordinarily silly late-night TV commercials but also organize these shindigs, will be happy to tell you all about it. Call 'em at 667-9196.

Listen Ma, I'm on TV... Austinites The Alamo Jets have reportedly placed three Jessie Dayton-penned tunes on the soundtrack of the upcoming Sam Shepard-directed flick, Curse of the Starving Class. Closer to home, local world-class pianist Dave Catney has had two songs -- "First Flight," from Catney's debut album of the same name, and "Wishing Well," from his follow-up, Jade Vision -- tagged for inclusion in a remake of Valley of the Dolls, scheduled for a TV premiere next June. Catney is no stranger to the tube, having earlier this year had "Jumper's Way" -- a tune named after his cat -- featured in HBO's And the Band Played On and his composition "Fool Moon" used as background on Melrose Place.

Tidbits: Twisted punk rock geniuses and Nintendo flacks the Butthole Surfers are one surfer -- or is that one hole? -- shy these days since bassist Jeff Pinkus decided to part -- amicably, we're told -- from his bandmates. The rift, reports manager Tom Bunch, has been some time in the making and probably has something to do with Pinkus' once side project and now frontburner band Daddy Longhead, which you may have seen in a recent appearance at the Abyss.

'Scuse me, but could you sign my butt... The lovely and talented Sarah McLachlan, whose Fumbling Towards Ecstasy tour glides into the Tower Theater Thursday night, will make an in-store appearance at Cactus Records on Shepherd on Thursday afternoon from 12:30 to 1:30. McLachlan will be signing autographs, and some lucky schlep will win an autographed guitar that's sure to someday be worth at least a side of fries at the Hard Rock. Be there.

Upcoming Events

Listen up, slacker, we're marketing to you... Those of you who attended this past spring's KRBE-sponsored spoken word competition at Sound Warehouse to angle for a slot on the oh-so-hip Maggie Estep/Reg E. Gaines/John S. Hall program held a few weeks later at UH might remember the KRBE guy asking the audience if they might like to do this spoken word thing again sometime. Apparently you cheered loudly enough, because the mavens of Top 40 are back with "Free Your Mind," a new KRBE-sponsored open-mike night to be held at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge on August 15 and 22, 9-10 p.m. The press release quotes KRBE marketing and promotions director Mark Shecterle as saying, "When 200 people showed up for the first "Free Your Mind" program, we were stunned. We realized we had stumbled onto some sort of cultural phenomenon." Imagine their surprise.

The release goes on to posit that "Speakers are mostly Generation Xers" and that "The stage is an emotional outlet for most of the speakers, who are given an ear, a hand and often a hug by the audience of supportive listeners." Don't it just give you the warm fuzzies? I know it do for me.

In marginally related news (it has to do with people talking), Harvey's Tuesday night poetry slams continue to serve as a breeding ground for local spoken word artists who can be funneled onto the poetry stage at this year's Lollapalooza, scheduled for August 19 at Houston Raceway Park. Houston winners so far include Claire Richards and Jason Nodler. There's one more week of Houston winners to be chosen, then the top dogs slam amongst themselves for a chance to read on the main stage between bands. Winners of the Houston slam get a chance to go to Dallas to compete against Dallas and Austin poets, and finally some lucky wordsmith will be handed $500 and invited to take it on the road.

Local Stuff... Rocker Herschel Berry kicks off the week with a set at the Village Brewery, folkie Kimberly M'Carver plies her wares at McGonigel's Mucky Duck and world beat outfit D.R.U.M. makes an appearance at the Magic Bus.

Friday night, it's the perpetually gigging Zwee and Graveberries in the cozy front room at Rudyard's, while Facedown's at Emo's.

Come Saturday, Beans Barton and the Bi-Peds play the European, and the rest of the night is crammed with Austin acts: punkers Crust at Harvey's, gritty r&b rocker Jimmy LaFave at the Satellite and the spaghetti surf of Death Valley at Rudz.

Sunday night's got locals Rick Lee and the Night Owls holding court at Billy Blues, and that's about it, locally speaking, until the Flying Fish Sailors plant their jaunty selves at the Mucky Duck Wednesday night.

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