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SXSW Ephemera, Part Deux: More Random Notes from the Field

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If you're trying to drum up support for PETA, you could do a lot worse than a chicken suit.

Curious why music still matters? This anecdote from Dallas-based Sony rep Jason Miller should put those nagging questions to bed for good. Seems Miller went to the Austin Music Hall Wednesday to see Yo La Tengo and My Morning Jacket, who warmed up for SXSW with a well-attended – but hardly full – show at Verizon Monday night. Feeling nature’s call, Miller went to the Music Hall’s facilities, and we’ll let him take it from there. “Someone shit their pants and left them lying on the bathroom floor,” he says, with no reason to make something like this up. “Maybe the show was so good they just shit their pants. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.”

One of the co-sponsors of Beerland’s day party today is a company named Douchemaster. I plan to start using this word as much as possible.

I ran into my friend and Austin singer-songwriter Mike Nicolai in front of Club de Ville Thursday afternoon, and he told me he has what must be one of the weirdest jobs at SXSW this week: bartending at Central Presbyterian Church, where Houston enigma Jandek plays local experimental-music journal Signal to Noise’s showcase tomorrow night, as well as sometime Charlambides singer Christina Carter, the Nameless Sound Collective and the Space City Gamelan ensemble. Hopefully this will help clue people in to what a fertile experimental/improvisational scene Houston has going on right now.

Posted on Headhunters’ door: “I don’t care if you are the son of God. You need to wait in line like everybody else.”

The roll call of Bayou City songs is about to increase by one. R.E.M.’s forthcoming album Accelerate, due next month, includes the track “Houston,” described as a “Jimmy Webb tribute” by my former Austin Chronicle colleague Austin Powell, who witnessed the Athens icons’ Austin City Limits TV taping Thursday afternoon. Gulf Coast music trackers will of course recall that Webb himself penned the poignant Vietnam War lament “Galveston,” which pal Glen Campbell took to No. 1 country and No. 4 pop in 1969.

Friday’s Village Voice Media day party, brought to fruition by several of our own Houston Press personnel, has been sufficiently recounted elsewhere, but we did draw quite a crowd. While the Black Keys, Soundtrack of Our Lives and …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead took care of bidness onstage, among the hundreds of people drinking, dancing and schmoozing at La Zona Rosa were numerous Houstonians: Meridian owner Bob Fuldauer and his second-in-command D’Neta (no last name necessary... I'm not even sure she has one), The Messina Group’s Sara Winter, Cactus Music owner Quinn Bishop, Pearl Bar’s Brad Moore, Houston Chronicle entertainment editor Andrew Dansby (hey, we’re all friends at SXSW) and musicians Kaki King and Bobby Bare Jr. After Trail of Dead mopped up with a pristine “Relative Ways,” an appreciative fan told guitarist Kevin Allen, “I like it when you guys play sober in the afternoon.” According to Allen, TOD begins recording the follow-up to 2006’s underappreciated So Divided Monday.

Okkervil River bassist Patrick Pestorius rode up on his bicycle as I was en route to a delicious fried shrimp basket at the Victory Grill Friday evening. Apparently drummer Travis Nelsen’s cymbals, worth more than $1,000 in all, went missing after Wednesday’s Austin Music Awards. The band is offering a free bro job for information leading to the cymbals’ safe return, and they need it fast: They’re playing this afternoon at East Austin’s historic French Legation – the first foreign embassy established in Texas, when we were still a republic – and reuniting with Roky Erickson tonight at Stubb’s. Contact them through their MySpace page.

Outside Stubb’s Friday night, some poor girl nearly ruined her weekend when her five-inch wedges gave way, but she somehow managed to avoid snapping her ankle. Watch those heels, people.

Not everyone is drinking the SXSW Kool-Aid. When not gushing about X’s performance earlier in the day, Grand Champeen bassist and Stubb’s bartender Alex Livingston said the hardscrabble Austin rockers didn’t even bother trying to book a showcase this year (though they did play twice earlier this week). “We don’t give a shit anymore,” he admitted. “This would have been our ninth year, and to what end?”

According to Aaron Miller, occasional cartoonist for my former Austin Chronicle column “TCB,” Houston is now a test market for the “anti-energy” drink called – what else? – “Drank,” containing the key ingredients kava kava and Valerian root. Or, as Miller aptly labeled them, “the sleepy herbs.” Can someone please send a case of this stuff to the paper?

Spotted on a tip jar at Emo’s Annex: “’Cheers Mate’ is not an acceptable tip in Texas.” Ron Paul would be proud. - Chris Gray

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