Featured Music: Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Brazilians eat up Guitar Smitty’s blues.

An extended-play version of this week’s column.


My cup runneth over. There’s el mucho crapo to report, and the measly little gray box that usually appears to the right under this column name is grossly inadequate in size. Excuse me while I commandeer the entire “Music” section page.

Katsuk: So Over the Rainbow

One of the perks of being a hot-shit writer for a free, 23-page weekly newspaper in the surging metropolis of Fort Worth, Texas, is that I occasionally get to hear new local music before the rest of the alcoholics. While stumbling (really) into an extremely LOUD set by Catfish Whiskey at the Moon last week, I ran into Daniel Katsuk, frontman of A-Hummin’ Acoustical Acupuncture, former member of Spoonfed Tribe, and winner of the 2005 Music Awards trophy for Artist of the Year. Ever conscious of yin and yang, Daniel-San was OK with the fact that he had good and bad news to share. I was just OK.

The bad: For the past few weeks, the singer-songwriter had been trying to generate interest in starting an annual weekend-long festival in the country, specifically in Rainbow, Texas, on a parcel of Brazos River waterfront property. The landowner, Katsuk said, had agreed to offer the stage, lighting, sound, generators, and portable restrooms, all for free. Several well-known local bands, Katsuk said, were already on board, including Triple-A, Spoonfed, Pablo and the Hemphill 7, Confusatron, Sally Majestic, and Peach Truck Republic. Other bands — such as Goodwin, Bertha Coolidge, Chatterton, Horses, Darth Vato, Tahiti, Kulcha Far I, the Electric Mountain Rotten Apple Gang, and others — were interested. Katsuk also wanted (in no particular order) vendors, DJ’s until dawn, drum circles, guitar circles (like those that spring up randomly at Kerrville Folk Festival), and “conscious-expanding” information booths, dispensing literature and good vibes, and talking in an excited way about generally left-leaning issues. (Amnesty International, MoveOn.org, and 1919 Hemphill were some of the names that Katsuk mentioned.) Dude even had sponsors lined up.

Sounds groovy, right? Well, Katsuk said, the massive number of hands stirring the pot led to a slight distortion of his original vision, prompting him to back off a tad. Once he loosened his grip, he said, the whole friggin’ thing just fell apart.

The good news: He’s been recording a new full-length, and it kicks ass.

After he and I both managed to get a few words in edgewise between Catfish Whiskey’s extremely LOUD songs, we went to his pick-up and listened to some rough mixes of his new material. Think Nine Inch Nails’ ominous synthetic beats and atmospherics playing naked-Twister with mystical, fluid, Middle Eastern-inflected, percussive acoustic guitar-based folk. The c.d., Katsuk said, should be ready by late fall, early winter. Alcoholics and other music lovers are encouraged to hold vigil until the disc appears. It’s gonna be huge, I shit you not. Visit www.aaamusic.org often.

(On a sad note, I learned later in the week that Katsuk and his two accompanists, Tricky Ricky and Orion, are going to split to “focus on personal matters.” Future Triple-A commitments will be honored by Katsuk and various sitter-inners.)

Local Round-Up

Gotta love that New Music swing! In November, Fort Worth welcomes a show by Dutch sound-text artist Jaap Blonk. More performances by similar artists are in the works, according to Herb Levy, the guy who came up with the big idea. We can only hope. Levy, who relocated from Seattle to Cowtown about five years ago, has been an integral force in New Music. For about a decade in dreary but hip Seattle, he produced a series of 10 to 12 New Music concerts per year as music director of the oddly titled and/or gallery. He is also the founder of Periplum, a record label that has released 10 c.d.’s of New Music. You may think that the idea of a muscular Dutchman making odd sounds with his voice is wayyy arty-farty, but it could be the perfect tool to separate the arty-farty poseurs from the, uh, real ... arty-farty ... um, poseurs. ... For a while back there, garage rockers Voigt seemed poised to hit the big time. Sharing bills with the likes of OH-no, The Riverboat Gamblers, and other established outfits of both national and local esteem, the brainchild of brothers Burke Mills and Taylor Craig Mills disbanded seemingly in the middle of the night — one minute, they were there; the next, poof. They were gone. Taylor went on to play a few solo acoustic gigs, while Burke fought an illness. Now that Burke’s doing better and Taylor has grown tired of being told by random people that his band “rawked, dude!,” Voigt is getting back together, with a relatively new line-up: Burke in front, Taylor off the bass and on guitar, with former Audiophiles co-songwriter Derek McDonald, Chat Room owner and former Yellowbelly bassist Ryan Hicks, and former Audiophiles drummer Mike Radcliff. As notable as the new additions are, none compares in magnitude with the this one — Steven Holt, former frontman of both OH-no and ex-major label signee Tablet. “[Holt] said he’ll do whatever,” Taylor said. “He just wants to be part of our band.” Voigt, Taylor continued, will probably be ready to hit stages by the fall. As rehearsals get under way, Taylor will be finishing up recording a six-song e.p. of solo material, with former Audiophiles co-songwriter Jordan Roberts on guitar and laptop, Green River Ordinance’s Geoff Ice on bass, and singer-songwriter Walker Wood on whatever and mixing boards. Taylor will play some of his handiwork on Friday, Sept. 9, at the Aardvark, with The Color of May and Billy Harvey. ... For the past few months, we all (well, some of us) have been wondering where in the hell Holland K. Smith has been. The answer: on tour/vacation in Brazil. Guitar Smitty said that he and his band played his brand of straight-ahead blues tinged with swing to about 2,000 people at an amphitheatre down thar and sold out of the c.d.’s he brought. Smitty said: “It’s cool to be reminded that, although I’m a local artist, there are a lot of fans elsewhere on the planet!” Groove to a tanned and relaxed Guitar Smitty at Stumpy’s (2811 W. Division St., in Arlington; 817-275-3202), where he’ll be playing Saturday night. And, no, Smitty said he unfortunately didn’t run into Gisele Bundchen while visiting her homeland. (Believe me, I asked; that was the second thing outta my mouth after “Welcome back, Holland.”) ... Every time the Fort or some Fort Worthian is mentioned in some national magazine or on some nationally televised program, I feel it’s my duty to respond. Fort Worth’s most eccentric and lovable art collector, Ace Cook, owner of the wonderful Bull Ring gallery/soda shop in the Stockyards, was quoted in the Aug. 22 issue of some fancy New York newsweekly (actually, The New Yorker). As Cook chats with Kinky Friedman in a story about Friedman’s gubernatorial campaign, Cook says, “I’m for you. I’m sick of these assholes who don’t represent me or represent people. [The assholes] represent AT&T and Enron. ... How’d it be if someone went up to the capitol and did what they said they would?” Friedman replied: “It’d be a first.” “I believe it, hoss,” Cook said. “That’s why you’re gonna win.” Now, ain’t nothing wrong with Cook’s opinion, but in the context of the story — about how clueless both Friedman and some vacillating Texas voters are about his potential candidacy — the Bull Ring owner comes off as just another bumpkin. In reality, he’s anything but. Also, the Bull Ring isn’t a “beer joint,” as it’s described. It’s a museum-like gallery whose collection contains extremely valuable, extremely rare regionalist paintings. For a more accurate, thorough profile of Cook and his establishment, read Jeff Prince’s cover story from April 14, 2004, “Ace on Exchange.” (Damn Yankees.) Go and check out www.fwweekly.com/issues/2004-04-14/feature.html/page1.html. ... In a weird twist of fate, anti-stars Chatterton are playing a gig with superstars-in-waiting Black Tie Dynasty, at Axis, 120 S. Main St., in Cowtown (817-870-AXIS). Come Saturday and witness the sturm und drang between Chatterton frontman Kevin Aldridge’s black hole of an ego and Black Tie frontman Cory Watson’s rising sun. (I love both you guys!)

Contact HearSay at hearsay@fwweekly.com.

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