River City ~ Dispatches from Austin

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Jay Bennett and Edward Burch play Stubb's this Saturday. River City hasn't yet heard their new collaboration, The Palace at 4 a.m., but we expect Saturday night to be a good show, considering Bennett's talent. Somewhat lost in the (well-deserved) flood of praise for the new Wilco release, Bennett's departure from Wilco leaves a big question mark. It's hard to tell just how much influence Bennett had on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but it seems it may have been more than we realized, considering he was fully involved right up to the last mix of the record. His skill in the studio, and his presence during their live shows, could be irreplaceable. Reviews of YHF have been raves; reviews of Wilco's recent live shows have been mixed. Seems they are still trying to pull their new sound together on stage.

Another show next week has stirred our curiosity: A Denton band called Lift to Experience plays the Mercury this Thursday. The Austin Chronicle wrote about them in March: "Christian space rock. Lone Star emo. Confession-booth shoegazer. There's never been a band like Lift to Experience, no doubt about it." According to The Chronicle, their song "These are the Days" features the following lyrics: ""The whole world is gonna change when the levee breaks, and it feels the wrath of God's terrible, swift sword."

So, you're just thinking about seeing a movie this weekend? Well, River City is always scouring the theaters, finding overlooked, artsy-type films that may not get the recognition they deserve. We stumbled recently into a movie that seems to be building a following and gaining a lot of momentum. Seems that soon, this little sci-fi feature will be the talk of the town, so you'd better see it now! The movie is called Star Wars, and it stars Obi Wan MacGregor (oops that's Ewan) and several CGI animated characters, including R2D2 and Padme Amidala. Read about this Star Wars phenomenon and Attack of the Clones in River City: In Too Deep.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Our "Raging Texas Tour" finally hits a resting point, as we return to Austin - but not before a last romp "where the West begins." We take you on location in Fort Worth on Sunday, where Sundance Square was sectioned off for a day and night of music, drinking and more drinking. Of course, the Texas lineup was a guaranteed success, including Robert Earl Keen and Charlie Robison. This reporter stumbled in late, just in time to see Keen close the show, and what a scene to stumble into. Cowboy hats, snuff tins, shirts that weren't funny (sporting slogans like "BEER INSIDE," lamely playing off the Intel logo, we think).

Keen tore the place up after he settled down. At first, the half-frat boy, half-rodeo crowd was just scary. But after a few beers slammed as quickly as possible, the drunken, sing-along frenzy was somewhat contagious. Keen, for his part, played favorites like "Feelin' Good Again," "Fourth of July," and "Headin' Down that Dusty Trail," and the sound was good. Not sure if those are really the titles of the songs, but who cares? I wasn't going to interrupt anybody's singing or vomiting to ask them.

The daylong festival was hosted by a country radio station called "the Wolf." Keen made sure to mention the station often; at times it felt it was being drilled into the crowd's head. But then, interestingly, he went on to ramble about the fact that a lot of people were mistaken about him: he doesn't play country music. The confused looks and drunken stirring of the crowd was finally replaced by more foot-stomping tunes. That's right, Bob, just play. Don't try to explain anything to these guys or yourself.

I was pleased to learn we had missed an earlier act, Cross Canadian Ragweed. The Oklahoma band may have built themselves a strong (and baffling) following in the North Texas area, but their cheap, recycled "roots rock" (or whatever they might call their bad music) hopefully won't go over in Austin. Time will tell.

In other news…

reallyrather, a UK site, has published some latest info about L.A. band Gingersol. And reallyrather has been following several of our favorites recently, including Wilco and Grand Champeen.

Coming soon: The inevitable first of the "summer blockbuster" reviews. Probably Star Wars.

For more about our complicated relationship with Texas music, read Texas Music: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Greetings from Austin, Texas!

And welcome to River City News, your source for rumor, conjecture, dubious (at best) claims and outrageous opinion. This site will be updated several times a week, and you'll mostly read about music, movies, and other worldly issues that seem to light some sort of spark in the editor's head. And in a world desperately in need of another web site, River City News will not only fulfill this lofty dream, it will also direct you to other valuable web sites as necessary. Relax, grab a beer, and enjoy yourself. There's enough hot air blowing around for 10 web pages like this.

There will be a music update once a week, probably on Thursdays. You can email me with ideas or bands you would like to see discussed here. If they are of no interest to the editor, you will either be politely sent away, or - on a more generous day - asked to submit your own review.

Other general site updates will come on a strict "every now-and-again" basis. Enjoy!