What a weekend! Still reeling from the massive amount of songs performed since Friday evening. Friday night it was Tony Scalzo and the Familiar Strangers up there in Dallas at Club Dada. Mavs beat the Lakers in game 3 of the semi-finals so you would have thought Deep Ellum would be the sight of boisterous Dallas fans, but it was a not very busy. Salim Nourallah and I played sets with our respective bands. Opening the set was a fantastic singer named Kristy Kruger. Lovely old-timey style that was both sonically as well as visually striking. Great songs and a very strong finger picker.
Jenn and I drove back to Austin the next morning and I put on my monkey suit and drove off to the hill country. Out to Spicewood Vinyards for a wedding gig. I had put a lot of work into this 3 hour set. Learning piano and organ parts to 45 oldies. I was surprised at how smooth the gig went. I actually had a blast.
Yesterday was as hot as hell and as humid as the Isle of Tortuga so it must be The Texas Tycoons live at Guero's! We got a special treat before our set. Visiting from San Antonio to play the annual Pecan Street Festival, we enjoyed a set from the sublime, Los Texmaniacs, starring Max Baca on Bajo Sexto. They played a 30 minute set of smoking hot Tejano for the afternoon crowd. We went on and played for two hours.
Miles and his son came by for a few tunes but he didn't get on stage. Being the good daddy he is! Jason Blum, who is in Texas for a while from Brooklyn, NY got up and did a short set of his folk songs. I have watched Jason mature as an artist and a person over the years and I'm very impressed. I hope to do some work with him in the near future. There were lots of dancers and kids, as usual, and when the breeze kicked in I turned to Paul and said, "I want to do this once a month forever!"
Now it's back to cleaning house and working on songwriting and such. Promoting the Kicksarter project to fund the new record is going very well. I think we're at about 50% as of today. To all who have helped with a pledge or just spreading the word, I am grateful. I was skeptical at first but Miles did so well with his I new it would be wise to have a go! If you haven't checked out my project, please do. Here's a link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1247059141/tony-scalzos-first-solo-album
Looking forward to a small trip out to NE Pennsylvania for The 2011 Montrose, PA Wine and Chocolate Festival (codeword for drunken orgy of gluttony and decrepitude) with Fastball. Should be a hoot! All for now, lates!
Last week has come and gone and I had a great time. I've always had a good time during South By Southwest, ever since the glory days, not of Fastball having radio hits, but when I used to volunteer and get a badge! Over the years Austin has seen huge acts like the Strokes play small clubs before they made it big. I remember when Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne did the "Parking Garage Experiment" at a lot downtown; 20 cars formed a circle and simultaneously played a cassette tape given them by the Coynes . Iggy Pop performing on Sixth St in front of the Driskill Hotel for a free concert is one of my favorite memories. When this past week began I had a sense of being old and not-so-hip. I didn't recognize many names on the schedule, just a few friends and all the local bands. But I soon got over it and enjoyed some great music. I especially loved seeing Rusty Willoughby and Rachel Flotard as COBIRDS UNITE. They played Thursday night at the No Depression showcase and delivered a passionate set of groovy, (acoustic!) country/soul infused rock and capped it off with the great song, "Do Right Woman" which has been recorded by both Gram Parsons and Aretha Franklin. Apt. The most intense rock moment came from Nashville's JEFF the Brotherhood on Friday night. Two brothers one on guitar and vocals and the quiet one on drums. These guys AIN'T the White Stripes! The music was almost indescribable; phaser soaked 3 string guitar ran through what looked from the back (my spot)like 2 bass amps and a Twin Reverb. Big Brother was offstage as much as on, utilizing his duct-tape secured, extra-long guitar cable to wander around a packed house while constantly keeping up the music. My wife and I were deafened and happy. Our showcase was in the worst time slot (1 am sat)as well as the worst possible venue. This bar would be better suited for cockfighting than music listening. No light, all stone and concrete and impossible to find. I won't mention the name of this douchy-ass place as I'm sure it will disappear from that address soon enough. I will say that despite the foxhole-like conditions of the place, The Familiar Strangers played our best set to date, without a doubt. I love this band and I got a taste of how things are gonna be in the future. Well it's all over now and as I say each year about this time, "Never Again!" HA! We shall see!
I've played many a spring break in my day. I'll never forget SB2000 in Panama City, Fl when we did a show with Moby. We had a special guest playing guitar, Michael Warden from the Wallflowers. If any of you are familiar with him, he has a shaved-bald situation and while at dinner early that evening, many women were hitting him up for autographs thinking he was Moby. SB 1999 we played at South Padre and as I was chilling on the beach I looked above and saw a plane with a sign behind it that said Willie Nelson/Fastball Tonight LIVE!!! That was quite satisfying... SO now It's SB 2011 and SXSW is in town here in Austin. I'm not even going down there other than to check in at the convention center to get my package. I'm actually not playing until Friday for the MOHEAK.COM internet radio party at Beso's Cantina at 3pm. Tony Scalzo And The Familiar Strangers official SXSW showcase is on the final slot of the conference 1am Saturday (sun morning, really) at Ten Oak. I have heard it is pretty zoo-ed downtown already with many quirky fashions to be viewed on parade.The new slang can be heard up and down 6th st. I'm not exactly sure when I shall peep out my head and start the perennial goat-dance. SO far I can recommend at least one event and that would be the No Depression Official SXSW Showcase starring Rusty Willoughby and Rachel Flotard's awesome situation called Cobirds Unite. That'll be at the SOho Lounge on Thursday. Other good acts on that one too. I may just stay there all night. I hate the idea of chasing bands all over town; Running in the street yelling for a cab to get to a gig that's half over... it's tiring me out just thinking about it! Anyway The STrokes are playing for free at Auditorium Shores at some point in the week. I'd like to see them. Oh yeah last but not least Bad Brains at Emo's should be super impossible to get into but I'll try.
Stephan Belans and I have started the process of recording the new album this week. We're doing it here in Austin at Herb Belofsky's studio. They've got lots of great mics and outboard gear. Nieve and Studer 2-inch tape, clean and comfy! We've started with 5 songs, "Reality", "Halfway Girl", "The Bed I Made", "Last Word" and "Forever Girl". We began on Tuesday by running a click track through my phones and then I played and sang each song. Then Wednesday we started to get drum tracks down. Got a good one for "The Bed I Made" and we started laying down drums for "Halfway Girl". Today (Thursday) and tomorrow we'll try and finish drums for these five songs. George Reiff will be coming in next week to lay down bass. Current finances may confine this project to e.p. status, which will be good enough to have some new material finished by SXSW. Hey! What do you know? I managed to get a decent showcase this year! I won't be stuck at Coyote Ugly between to two rap-metal bands, which is good. We will be playing the final slot at TENOAK with the awesomely cool line-up of Javier Escovedo (The Zeros) and San Antonio legends, The Krayolas! Anyway, my plan is to document this whole musical evolution of mine by posting blogs, videos and new songs as they develop. Stay tuned!
Yes it snowed yesterday and I stayed off the roads to get a few things done around the house. Namely, I signed up for reverbnation.com and started trying to complete my profile. There's always something I have to do and it's becoming a bit addictive. Anyway, I am starting off pretty well by putting a bunch of music up there that no one ever hears (or has heard before). It just sits and collects dust so I thought, why not put it out there? Hope you enjoy these few nuggets from my body of work.