🎶 My One Band is the One True Band | “Austin Lounge Lizards” @ Boulevard Music

Austin Lounge Lizards (Boulevard Music)My dear departed friend Stuart Schaeffer did two outstanding things for me, musically: he introduced me to the music of Big Daddy, and he introduced me to the Austin Lounge Lizards. The Lizards are a satirical bluegrass band out of Texas, and their music is just great. Although described as “bluegrass”, they run the range from acapella choral singing to rock and roll, from the aforementioned bluegrass to country, and pretty much everything in between. Their lyrics skewer people and topics, and are cleverly written. Whenever we learn they are coming to town, we do our best to see them (but, alas, they often conflict with prescheduled theatre).

Luckily, although there was a conflict, it was with a subscription show, and we were able to change our tickets to Sunday. So last night we got together with some friends and went down to Boulevard Music in Culver City to see the current incarnation of the Lizards do their show. The Lizards are down to two of the three founding members (Tom Pittmann having retired, but Hank Card and Conrad Diesler are  still there), and have been joined by two original Lizards, Kirk WIlliams and Tim Wilson. For two songs, Corey Simone, who was also a former Lizard and now has a band in the area, joined the group.

To make my life easy, I copied their set list before the show. This show was a little different in that there were a number of non-Lizard rock numbers worked in between the traditional Lizards fare. Here is the set  list, with a few comments. I’ve done my best to get the full names of songs (non-Lizard songs in italics):

  1. Highway Cafe of the Damned
  2. Ashokan Farewell / War Between the States / War
  3. We’ve Been Through Some Crappy Times Before
  4. That God Forsaken Hell-Hole I Call Home
  5. Grunge Song
  6. The Dogs, They Really Miss You / Walking the DogIggy
  7. Boudreaux Was a Nutcase
  8. Black Helicopters
  9. Buenos Dios, Budweiser
  10. Gospel Medley: One True God / Three Sinners / Zen Gospel Singing
  11. (Intermission)
  12. Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Drugs
  13. Carazon de Goma (new song)
  14. Creep / Shallow End of the Gene Pool / People are Strange
  15. Another Stupid Texas Song
  16. Strange Noises in the Dark
  17. Have You Ever Seen the RainIrma / Acid Rain Keeps Falling / Beatle
  18. Jesus Loves Me (But He Doesn’t Like You)
  19. The Chester Nimitz Oriental Garden
  20. The Zombie Song Monster’s Holiday
  21. Hillbillies in an Haunted House
  22. (curtain call)
  23. Old Blevens
  24. Stop in the Name of Love Can’t Do / Cornhusker Refugee / My Boyfriend’s Back

I still  think they need to combine “Stupid Texas Song” with “I’m Leaving Texas” from Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public.

Alas, they didn’t do a number of my favorites, but that’s the nature of any show. What’d I miss? Saguaro, The Drugs I Need, Rasputin’s HMO, Go Ahead and Die (a great medley trio there), Industrial Strength Tranquilizers, Bust the High School Students, Big Rio Grande River, Half a Man, and Big Tex’s Girl… for a start.

But still, it was a great show, and you can never get all the songs you want.


Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), and the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows:

Today brings She Loves Me at Actors Co-op (FB) a visit to Stitches So Cal.  The second weekend of November is very busy: Dear Even Hansen at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) and A Bronx Tale at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), as well as A Day Out With Thomas at Orange Empire Railway Museum (OERM) (FB). The third weekend of November brings Beyond Jacobs Ladder from Jewish Woman’s Theatre (FB) at our synagogue on Saturday, and Finks at Rogue Machine Theatre (FB) on Sunday. Thanksgiving weekend has Steambath at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble (FB) on Saturday and Remembering Boyle Heights at Casa 0101 (FB) in Boyle Heights on Sunday. December starts with the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC), followed by a hold for the Canadian Brass at the Saroya [the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB). Then we may travel up to the Bay Area for Tuck Everlasting at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley (FB) (although that is starting to look less likely).

January is much more open, especially after the postponement of Bat Out of Hell at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Right now, all there is is a Nefesh Mountain concert at Temple Judea and a hold for the Colburn Orchestra at the Saroya [nee the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB) but the rest of the month is currently open (as few shows run in January due to complicated rehearsals over the holidays). We’ll keep our eyes open. February starts with the Cantor’s Concert at Temple Ahavat Shalom (FB), Hello Dolly at the Hollywood Pantages (FB), and Anna Karenena at Actors Co-op (FB).  There’s also a HOLD for 1776 at the Saroya [nee the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB), and Lizzie at the Chance Theatre, but much of February is also open.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.


When Restraining Orders Expire

Austin Lounge Lizards (Boulevard Music)userpic=folk-artistsAs I said in my last post, yesterday was a day of running. She Loves Me ended right around 5:45 PM (it started at 3:00 PM), and we had tickets for an 8:00 PM concert in Culver City. So rush off we did, grabbing dinner at Togos and flying the 51 miles between Chance Theatre (FB) in Anaheim and Boulevard Music (FB) in Culver City. Yes, Boulevard Music — there are now two small folk music venues on the westside of Los Angeles: the venerable McCabes and Boulevard, right near Culver and Sepulveda. We were running to Boulevard Music to see the Austin Lounge Lizards (FB), who were doing their first show in Southern California since 2001 in Encino. As they noted, they were able to come back because the restraining order ended. Note: We made it there in just about an hour, thanks to Google’s alternate routing.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Austin Lounge Lizards — shame on you. They are one of the best satirical bluegrass bands around (although right now, they are down a banjo player — which, depending on your view of the banjo, might be an improvement). If you like Weird Al; if you like the Arrogant Worms; if you like Tom Paxton’s short shelf life songs — you’ll like the Lizards. They combine humor with great musicality to create a very entertaining show.

A word on the venue, as it was new to us. Boulevard Music is much smaller than McCabes — they set up the folding chairs in the main showroom (instead of the room in back) and they can’t handle online ticket sales. But they are super friendly, and seem to be well connected folk-wise, given some of the other folks there for the show. Further, the parking is much much easier. I recommend you check out their concert list and sign up for their mailing list — you might learn about some interesting concerts.

As for the show itself — the show featured two original Lizards (Hank Card, Conrad Diesler) and two newer members (Darcie Deaville, and Bruce Jones). Former lizard Korey Simeone (FB), who was local, joined the group on quite a few songs. The show playlist was as follows (♦=New Song):

Act I

  1. The Highway Café Of The Damned
  2. I Lied
  3. If I Saw You All The Time
  4. Buenos Dias, Budweiser
  5. La Cacahuate
  6. One True God
  7. We’ve Been Through Some Crappy Times Before
  8. Thank You For Touching Me There
  9. The Drugs I Need
  10. Strange Noises In The Dark
  11. The Car Hank Died In
  12. Stupid Texas Song
  13. Xmas Time for VISA
  14. Would You Like To Start A Band

Act II

  1. The Golden Triangle
  2. That Godforsaken Hellhole I Call Home
  3. ♦ I Confess To You
  4. Jesus Loves Me (But He Can’t Stand You)
  5. Paint Me on Velvet
  6. The Dogs, They Really Miss You
  7. My Bonnie Johnson
  8. Old Blevins
  9. Wer Ist Da
  10. Who Needs You
  11. Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Drugs
  12. Pflugerville

In short, the show was a mix of songs from throughout the Lizard’s performing career, with one new songs. A number of songs just can’t be done well without a banjo (how many times do you hear that!), and some really require Tom Pittman to work.

All in all, a good show…. and hopefully it won’t be 13 years before the Lizards are back in Southern California.

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience. I’ve been attending live theatre in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows: There is one more show in December for me: A Christmas Carol, as interpreted by Zombie Joe’s Underground (FB) on December 28  (my wife is seeing The Klezmatics at Disney Hall on December 22). January is slowly filling up:  “An Evening with Groucho” at AJU with Frank Ferrente at American Jewish University on Sun January 11; “Avenue Q” at REP East (FB) on Sat Sanuary 17; and possibly the Cantors Concert on Sat January 31 at Temple Ahavat Shalom. February and March pick up even more, with “The Threepenny Opera” at A Noise Within (FB) on February 15, a hold for “Loch Ness” at the Chance Theatre (FB)  on February 21, “The Road to Appomattox” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on February 28, the MRJ Man of the Year dinner on March 7, “Carrie: The Musical” at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB) on March 14, a hold for “Drowsy Chaperone” at CSUN on Friday March 20, “Doubt” at REP East (FB) on Saturday March 21, “Newsies” at the Pantages (FB) on March 28, followed by Pesach and the Renaissance Faire on April 11. As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411.


We’ve Been Through Some Crappy Times Before


You say the last election didn’t turn out like you planned.
You’re feeling blue and clueless, you just don’t understand.
You’re sad, sulky, sullen, moping and morose.
You’re woefully weak and weary, semi-comatose.
You stare at your computer screen devoid of any joy and hope.
You’re so depressed, you can’t get dressed, your noose is up a rope.
Just remind yourself, when you can’t stand it any more:
That we’ve been through some crappy times before


Starting last evening, I’ve been seeing the cries of woe and misery from my progressive friends. Meanwhile, those conservatives that I still talk to are cheering their victory. Both are wrong to cry or celebrate for their side, because this really isn’t a long-term victory for the Republicans or a long-term loss for the Democrats. This is an opportunity for the nation, and it may be a good thing. It may also be good, in the long run, for the Democrats, and perhaps even for the Republicans. Hence, this lunchtime musing.


We’ve been though some crappy times before.
Slavery, unbridled knavery and the civil war.
Don’t stop caring, stop despairing, get up off the floor.
Because we’ve been through some crappy times before.


Here’s why I’m not worried. First and foremost, the Republicans do not have a supermajority (67%) in either house. To overrride a veto, a supermajority is required in both houses: 290 in the House (at best, if all the uncalled races went R, they would be at 259), and 67 in the Senate (at best, they are at 55). That is a very rare occurrence; only 10% of Presidential vetoes have been overridden. This means if the Republicans want to pass any legislation that has a chance of becoming law, they must make it sufficiently moderate that the President will sign it (or that they can get sufficient Democratic colleagues to come over to their side to override the veto). This is much better than the 2012-2014 Congress, where we couldn’t even get laws to the President because they couldn’t get out of Congress, even if they were moderate.

I’ll note that one article I read today believes it to be a myth that more might get through Congress. They claim the problem was not the Democratic Senate, but the much more conservative Republican house under John Boehner. However, all this means is that we won’t be worse off then before, but the more moderate Senate might still veto the bills (or the Dems filibuster them), and the President would surely veto them.

Ah, but the Presidential appointments will never get through, you say. I can’t guarantee they will get through, but they actually are more likely to get voted upon. This time, in the Senate, it is the Democrats who control the power of the filibuster, being the minority party. They won’t be stopping votes, and the Senate is required to vote on appointments. They don’t do they, they can legitimately be called on the carpet for not doing their Constitutional jobs. It may also push the President to appoint more centrists (which are a better reflection of the country at large, vs. more party-oriented ideologues)

Ah, but you say the Republicans won’t allow the filibuster. My friend, Rich Wales, over on Facebook, addressed this concern: “While the GOP senators could indeed abolish the filibuster (by simple majority vote at the beginning of a session of Congress, if I recall correctly), it would be a phenomenally short-sighted and stupid thing for them to do. First, it would gain them nothing in terms of enacting their party’s agenda — because even if a bill could sail through the Senate as well as the House, the President still has his veto power, and the GOP is not going to have enough votes in either house to override a veto. Second, even the most fanatically single-minded Republicans know they will not always be in power on Capitol Hill. If they abolish the filibuster in the Senate, they will effectively be abolishing it for all time — and when the Democrats one day regain control of the Senate, it will be their turn to be able to ram anything they want through that body, and a GOP minority won’t be able to stop (or even appreciably slow down) a Democratic majority. Even if the Republican leadership in the Senate are bound and determined to abolish the filibuster, enough Senators with a broader view of things are likely to oppose the idea that a rule change’s chances of passage are small. Go to Wikipedia and read about the “Gang of 14” for a reasonably recent example of how Senators went to great lengths to avoid invoking the so-called “nuclear option”.”


Intolerable intolerance has swept across the land.
The gospel thumping homophobes have got the upper hand.
They are peeping though the windows and they are creeping through the door.
But we’ve been through some crappy times before.

We’ve been through some crappy times before.
McCarthyism, Prohibition, and the World Wars.
We’re up a the creek, the boat is leaking, still we will reach the shore.
But we’ve been through some crappy times before.


But “It’s the Republicans”, you say. Consider this. During the primary elections, many of the more strident Tea Party candidates were defeated in favor of the establishment Republicans. None of the Republicans elected to the Senate, to my knowledge, were Tea Party. Combine this with the fact that in order to do anything, they have to be moderate, not Tea Party, to get their actions signed by the President. This is not a Tea Party take-over; it may be an opportunity for a rebirth of the Republican party for the moderates.

More significantly, most of the Republicans elected were elected because the electorate was dissatisfied with a Congress that was doing nothing. If the new Congress continues to do nothing, what will happen? That’s right — they may not keep their seats. That happened to many Tea Party candidates.


We hear reassurances that everything is fine.
It’s been a while since we were a canary in this mine.
When you think it’s really bad, it gets a little worse.
But keep on looking forward, though we’re going in reverse.

We shout out that the emperor is not wearing any clothes.
He lies so much that you could hang your laundry from his nose.
The fox is in the hen house and the wolf is at the door.
But we’ve been thought some crappy times before.


This election is also an opportunity for the Democrats. Using the election as an excuse, they can adjust their leadership to move away from the polarizing Reid and Polosi. Both are good people, but bring a lot of baggage. They also have the opportunity to distance themselves from the President, if he remains unpopular. They can easily blame the Republican Congress for not taking any action. Congressional inaction is no longer the fault of the Democrats.

This election also provides the Democrats with the opportunity to groom and identify additional candidates. Hilary is great, but Hilary brings with her significant baggage (and I don’t just mean Bill). This election could very well be setting the stage for a Democratic victory in 2016, whereas retaining the Senate might very well have led to a Republican victory in 2016.


We have been thought crappy times before.
Indiscretion, floods, Depression, Vietnam and more.
The sun has set but don’t forget another day is in store.
Because we’ve been thought some crappy times before.
Yes, we’ve been though some crappy times before.
Yes, we’ve been though some crappy times before.


Another day is in store. It is important to remember that control of the House, Senate, or the Executive Branch is like the weather. It always swings back and forth. When it is hot, you know it will eventually be cold…. and then hot again. When we have Democratic leadership, you know that will swing to the Republicans…. and then back again. It has been this way throughout the nation’s history, although some of the cycles have been longer than others. As long as the Democratic party is one of the two major parties, they will eventually be in control of both houses again. In fact, it is likely that will happen when we have a Republican president. The electorate loves having Congress as a check for the President, not a rubber stamp.

Lyrics from “We’ve Been Through Some Crappy Times Before”, Austin Lounge Lizards, available on “The Drugs I Need“.

P.S.: Courtesy of Amy Angel on FB, here’s another interesting take on the subject.


“I didn’t know Big Tex smoked,” a fairgoer was overheard saying.

The Austin Lounge Lizards once sang about him

You’ve all heard tell of Pecos Bill
Who rode a cyclone ’til it broke
Well, at the Texas State Fair
There’s an even bigger bloke
That cowpoke’s name is Big Tex
Fifty-two feet tall he stands
Outside he’s just a mannequin
But inside he’s a man…

But Big Tex is no more. Friday morning an electrical fire destroyed the emblematic representation of the outsized ambitions of Texas. Big Tex was born in 1949 in the town of Kerens in Navarro County, TX. His birth parents named him “Santa”, but in 1951 he was put up for adoption, and was sold into slavery at the Texas State Fair for $750 (yes, slavery was legal in Texas). They transformed him into the man that he was, unveiling him in 1952. Tex stood 52′ tall. He wore denim pants, a Texas shirt, a 75-gallon hat, a 50-pound belt buckle and greeted fair visitors with a non-pre-recorded slow drawl “Howdy folks! Welcome to the State Fair of Texas!”.

Friday, that all came to an end. A fire started in his boot, and soon the entire body had gone up in flames. Specifically, the fire was caused by an electrical short that started in his right boot. Flames and smoke shot up his body, which acted as a chimney. In about 10 minutes he was gone. Gone was his 75-gallon hat. Gone was his fiberglass face, which once flashed perfectly straight teeth. Gone were his boots, his five-pocket denim jeans and his 23-foot-long belt. All that remained were his charred three-ton steel skeleton and his hands, sleeves, belt buckle and bits of burnt clothing.

But Texas state fair officials have vowed to rebuild him. Fair spokesman Oscar Goldman was quoted as saying, ““We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better…stronger…faster.”

I’m sure Heather Jo will be waiting for him. She’s Big Tex’s girl.

Music: Pipe Dreams (2012 Encores Cast): “Tidepool”


Three for Some, Fun for All

  • Observation the First. There’s a new Austin Lounge Lizard’s Video/Song, done for Consumer’s Union: The Balance Transfer Switcheroo
  • Observation the Second: Well, we’re now in a relationship with a failed bank. Our mortgage is with Downey Savings, or should I now say U.S. Bank. Still, it might provide us an opportunity. We’ve been wanting to refinance out of our 5/25 variable before it goes variable in 2011, but the rates haven’t come down as fast as the house’s value, making the refi harder. I can hope they might want to renogotiate the terms knowing what we had invested (we bought with more than 20% down)… all we are looking for is a fixed at our current rate.
  • Observation the Third: Working the conference, I think I’m beginning to see a generational difference. I’m at the age I like paper. Paper final programs. Paper At-a-glances. But we have a number of younger folks (OK, in their 30s) involved with the conference who seem to think that if it is on the web, we’re good to go. The presumption seems to be that everyone surfs the web with their phones these days, so why print. I’ve never had internet on my phone (I don’t even text): I use my phone to make calls. Am I wrong? Is this generational?

4Q06 Theatre Planning (Update II)

Yet another theatre planning update (and thus a followup to this post). The tickets to The Musical of Musicals have just gone up on Goldstar, and so we now have 3 tickets to the 10/28 matinee show. Hopefully, some friends of ours who live in Burbank will be able to join us; if not, we’ll meet them for dinner afterwards.

The next tickets I’ll be getting will be A Light In The Piazza, for which HotTix go on sale October 10th.

Update 10/10/2006: We’ll be seeing A Light In The Piazza for the Sunday Matinee, 12/3. I have no idea where our seats are: they can no longer tell us that information over the phone.

I’m also tempted to explore tickets I’ve also ordered tickets for The Beastly Bombing, which had an interesting write-up on The Huffington Post as “The Most Offensive & Morally Unredeemable Musical I’ve Ever Heard”. The official subtitle of the play is “A Terrible Tale of Terrorists Tamed by the Tangles of True Love”. It is produced by SORO (The Secret Order of Revolutionary Operettists), and is supposedly a wicked political satire in the tradition of Gilbert & Sullivan. It is at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood, running until November 18th. Perhaps We’ll be going on Friday November 10th, as it looks like NSS&F may be down in Orange County. I’d have to do tickets off-Goldstar, however. [Reading my friends-of-friends list, I discovered that mistermerlin is playing the President; he’s a friend of terpsichoros. shutterbug93: I’ll note that Heather Marie Marsden from It Came From Beyond is in the cast.]


In other entertainment news, the Austin Lounge Lizards have a new CD coming out. It is now available through their store. The song list looks great:

Go Ahead and Die
The Drugs I Need
One True God
Xmas Time for Visa
The Neighbor of the Beast
Wer Ist Da?
     Buenos Dias, Budweiser
Toast the Earth with ExxonMobil
Ain’t Gonna Rain
Banjo Players in Heaven
The Tower
We’ve Been Through Some Crappy Times Before

Yes, I already have a copy on order! I should note that the Lizards are on tour: those on my friends list will find the following of interest:

  • SAN FRANCISCO, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2:25 PM: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
    Festival, Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park. (415) 255-0333

  • AUSTIN, Saturday, October 28: Cactus Cafe, UT Student Union, Austin,
    TX. Two shows, at 7:00 and 9:00 pm. Call 512-475-6515 for
    information, or just show up early.

That information came straight from the Lizard’s email.


The CDs I Need

Whilst working on my last entry, I went out to the Austin Lounge Lizards website to see if they had the lyrics to Big Tex’s Girl (“Howdy, folks. Welcome to the State Fair of Texas”). In doing so, I discovered some wonderous news:

Our new album, “The Drugs I Need,” will be released October 10, 2006. Look for it in fine record stores near you. It will also be available (along with all other Austin Lounge Lizards’ merchandise), through our website.

Yea! A new Lizards CD. Now I can listen to “The Drugs I Need” as I drive! All together now…

You’ve got a headache, and I’ve got some strange disease
Don’t worry about it, this pill will set your mind at ease.
Its called Progenatorivox: its made by Squabbmerleco
It’s a life enhancing miracle, but there are somethings you should know:

It may cause:
agitation, palpitations, excessive salivation,
constipation, male lactation, rust-colored urination,
hallucitations, bad vibrations, mild electric shock sensations.
But its worth it, for the drugs I need.

Hopefully, they’ll have all of their political videos on the CD. Those of you in the SF Bay Area are also lucky, as they’ll be up your way:

  • Friday, October 6. Palms Playhouse, Main St., Winters, CA, 530-795-1825, www.palmsplayhouse.com
  • Saturday, October 7. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, Speedway Meadows, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, 2:25 PM

Alas, they haven’t been down in Southern California for about 4 years, ‘da bums.