Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra with John Cale (third from left)
As usually happens just after New Year's, bands and venues are scrambling to line up Houston gigs during South By Southwest. Under the Volcano (2349 Bissonnet) owner Pete Mitchell has scored an early coup, lining up Chicago powerhouse the Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra for March 19.
According to Mitchell, his phone has been ringing off the wall, but so far he's keeping his powder dry, waiting to hear from several acts he hopes to cherry-pick during and around the festival. "I'm hoping to be able to schedule Cordero, but so far we haven't been able to make it work," he says. "But I think as soon as the rest of their schedule at SXSW firms up, we'll be able to announce something."
Mitchell describes himself as "ecstatic" to land Tremulis: "We added their album Pinky to our jukebox a few weeks ago, and people are playing it like crazy. I normally don't do music on Thursdays, but I already had Kevin Russell booked for March 18, so that wouldn't work for Tremulis. Travel-wise, Thursday was the optimum day for them, and we just went with it. I think they'll do really well here in Houston."
Nicholas Tremulis & Robbie Fulks, "Mystery Train," live at Schuba's, Chicago, July 2008
Tremulis, known as "the musical mayor of Chicago" released two albums in 2008. He also hosts a regular Tuesday-night radio program called "Eclectic Company" on WXRT in Chicago with longtime Chicago artist/musician Jon Langford (Mekons, Waco Brothers).
"It runs from 10-12 on Tuesday nights," writes Tremulis, "and basically we have guest artists on with each of us, and let them terrorize the airwaves with whatever they want to play as well as performing a song together. We've had every kind of musician on there in the past four years from Beck to Buddy Guy, Leo Kottke, Blondie Chaplin, Willie Nile, Ken Nordine, Rob Fraboni, John Doe, David Amaram, and that's just a portion of my list of folks. Jon's had a ton as well.
"Pretty wild show and a lot of fun," he continues. "I'm recording with Femi Kuti soon, as well as Steve Wynn and They might Be Giants in the near future. It streams at www.93xrt.com in real time Tuesday nights."
Tremulis closes out his SXSW stint with a show with longtime friend Alejandro Escovedo on March 22 at Austin's Continental Club. "Al has just been our biggest supporter down in Texas," says Tremulis. "We go way back to [our] days in New York." - William Michael Smith