Archive for November, 2007

Howdy gang! Hope everyone survived Turkey Day in fine form, and enjoyed some good food, great company, and the old-fashioned ass-whuppin’ the Cowboys laid on the Jets. Don’t laugh. Here in Texas, watching a team from New York take a beating in any sport, especially while sitting in a BarcaLounger with a belly full of L-tryptophan and sweet-potato pie, is more fun than a box full of puppies. And that’s a whole lot of fun.

Elsewhere in town, the estimable Old 97’s fan, raconteur, man about town, and noted Ft. Worth psychologist, Dr. David Welsh, attended last week’s Rhett-Murry-Ranchero Brothers benefit show in Dallas, along with his family, and afterward followed up with this outstanding multimedia review. (Make sure to check out those video clips!) Thanks, Doc. Now the rest of you, let’s get out there and see if we can’t put a strain on the good doctor’s server, OK? BTW doc, I can’t sit still in class and I think my mother hates me. Oh look, a chicken! So what do you think? Ritalin? Please?

You guys may not have noticed some of the changes over on the “Contact” page in recent months, but perhaps the most important has been a change in management for the Old 97’s, who are now represented by Danny Goldberg and Jesse Bauer of Gold Village Entertainment. Why should you care? Well, Mr. Goldberg’s stable of artists has, over the years, included the likes of the Beastie Boys and… Nirvana. Not bad, eh? The NY Post also recently caught up with him for this feature story.

I mention this because it ties in with the rest of this post. It’s no secret that the Old 97’s have never had the big-time web presence they’ve deserved. Ken Bethea was the band’s original webmaster, and ran old97s.com in his spare time for a few years before he punted and aimed their URL at hitbyatrain.com back in late 2000 or so.

But Hit By A Train was and is mainly a fan site that I run in my spare time. So despite two professional makeovers from from Austin’s Jeff Neely and Co., the 97’s actual impact on the web has been pretty limited compared to other bands. And let’s face it, if bands today have got to be able to generate both buzz and bucks from their websites, that ability has been limited for the 97’s, as they’ve simply made do with this fan-site for seven-plus years.

Well that’s about to change, as sometime in December, old97s.com will – at long last – finally be in the full-time hands of the web pros at OfficialCommunity.com. They’re Toronto-based, extremely well thought of it the biz, and recently took over the day-to-day managing of RhettMiller.com. I think you’ll agree Rhett’s is a good looking site. (BTW, don’t forget to check the Tour page for a bunch of new Rhett solo shows.) Anyhow, kudos to the 97’s new management for finally kicking the Old 97’s web presence into high gear.

As for HBAT, it will keep on keepin’ on, and hopefully better than ever. First of all, I hope you’ll all give a warm Old 97’s welcome to two new contributors here at Hit By A Train. First up is the aforementioned Jeff Neely, Austin-based ad exec, web designer extraordinaire, and long-time fan of the band. Joining him is Dallas’ own Michael Johnson, who’s also paid-up member of the Old 97’s family, having run the Old 97’s MySpace page since its inception. Both these guys are well wired into the world of Old 97’s news and happenings, and their contributions will greatly improve HBAT’s timely coverage of all-things Old 97’s.

Second, before HBAT became the “official” site too, it was much more cheeky and gossip-filled than it has been since, as I’ve always felt the need to be at least a little circumspect when putting out “news” under the old97s.com name. Well soon, we can kick out the jams again. As a fan site, because there was no need to refrain from “jumping the gun” on spreading the news, hitbyatrain.com used to scoop old97s.com all the time too, and it would be fun to do that again. So there you go.

Now you guys be nice to the new web gurus, both at Hit By a Train and Old97s.com, as they get their sea-legs in the, uhm… “enthusiastic” world of Old 97’s fandom, and don’t forget to adjust your bookmarks, as you’ll soon have two complete sites on which to get your daily dose of Old 97’s, www.old97s.com and www.hitbyatrain.com!

Finally, the good folks at the Texas state tourism office are featuring a pretty neat interview with the guys on their website. While it’s P.D. cool that Old 97’s are increasingly, and rightly, thought of as a Texas institution and a draw for out-of-staters, Murry and Philip still can’t seem to get their names spelled correctly. Ah well. More soon!

Just two quick items today: The Old 97’s have taken advantage of their current time in the studio to add one yet another song to their growing Christmas catalog. It’s a Rhett Miller original called “Christmas Time” and we may actually see it released in time for the holidays! BTW, Rhett has played it live here and there, so you may have heard it already, and like others, assumed the title to be “All I Want is You for Christmas.” (Thanks for the tip, Doc! – f.e.)

Also, we’ve got a bunch of new Rhett Miller solo shows up on the Tour page, along with one new – if as of yet unconfirmed – Old 97’s show, that one reported to be a December 28th appearance at the Texas Bowl TexFest in Houston. More soon!

What are you doing New Years Eve? I mean besides that? Howz ’bout heading to Dallas’ historic Longhorn Ballroom for the return of one of Texas’ finest musical traditions, ringing in the New Year with Old 97’s!

Arguably even more of a cultural landmark than Dallas’ famed Sons of Hermann Hall, the Longhorn Ballroom has one remarkable history. Built in 1950 by the father of Western Swing, Bob Wills, and originally called “Bob Wills Ranch House,” it was intended to be the new home base for his Texas Playboys. But bad business decisions and a debt to the IRS soon forced Wills to sell the building to another Dallas club owner, one Jack Ruby. Yeah, that Jack Ruby.

Renamed the Longhorn Ballroom, the club then went on to host THE biggest names in country music for another quarter century – Willie, Loretta Lynn and Ernest Tubb regularly graced its stage – before it hosted its most notorious show ever, the January 10, 1978 show by the Sex Pistols, during which a wasted Sid Vicious was viscously head-butted by a female audience member. The Pistols played just two final dates on their tour before disbanding, but the Longhorn Ballroom soldiered on, and just after the Pistols left the country, hosted its next gig: Merle Haggard.

So come on out on December 31st! Soak up some history along with some suds. Who knows, maybe the 97’s will even play “Miss Molly” (orig. Bob Will & His Texas Playboys) or “Beer Cans” (orig. Homer Henderson, who also penned the infamous “Lee Harvey was a Friend of Mine,” Lee Harvey himself having been put away by that other one-time owner of the Longhorn Ballroom 😉 Either way, you know the Old 97’s will be playing at least a few cuts off their upcoming album, plus all of the favorites that have made them Texas legends in their own right. So be there for what’s sure to be one unforgettable show. And you say can’t find tickets? Not to worry, we’ll have that info here just as soon as it becomes available.

And speaking of new songs, Pegasus News last week posted a free clip of the Old 97’s public debut of one of their new tracks, taped at the Carter Albrecht Memorial show. The song would appear to be titled “Dance With Me” and you can check out the video here. And don’t forget to click here or scroll down that page for a link to a fantastic 1995 KCRW in-studio performance by the band.

And Austinites, don’t fret, as y’all get your own chance to see the boys NYE week too, as on Saturday December 29, the Old 97’s play your own La Zona Rosa. Now, nobody claims the history of LZR matches that of the Longhorn, but on December 29 the music will surely be the equal of that in Dallas on the 31st.

All right, I’ve got a few more things, but I need to get out the door and vote today. You do too, so go!