Drought-stricken Austin reaches out to Superstorm Sandy-damaged Norton Records with a benefit concert this Wednesday January 16th at Antone's, featuring Eve & the Exiles, the Freddie Steady 5, Homer Henderson, T. Tex Edwards, the Best, and the Texas Mavericks.
Run by Billy Miller and Miriam Linna, Norton ("Where the Loud Sound Abounds") is widely regarded as one of the premier rock n' roll record labels in the world, specializing in rockabilly, raunchy rhythm & blues, garage rock, and other primal musical forms. The company was dealt a cruel blow by Sandy when its entire stock of LPs, 45s, CDs, and paperback books got swamped by raging floodwater. On the Nortonville blog, Linna tells the story of the devastation wrought by the storm, and of the "continued efforts to get the baby out of the salty bath water and back into the dance halls and record stalls where she should ought to be."
Linna writes, "When the Norton Records warehouse went under the thunder of Hurricane Sandy on October 29th, it looked like curtains for the 'label with the able stable.' Virtually everything Norton was baptized in brine - sunk in nearly seven feet of salt water when Hurricane Sandy's tidal surge engulfed our waterfront Red Hook storerooms. Emotional shock and shudder aside, it should have been viewed as a total loss - close the doors and walk away. It was, after all, a catastrophe, an Act of God. The Poseidon Adventure. The Year Of The Flood. Too big and insane to deal with...
But the Loud Sound would not be drowned. "Quitting Norton was never an option. We could not leave stacks of shellac in that a cold, dark, waterfront tomb. Denominations of 7, 10 and 12 inch platters set for speeds of 33, 45 and 78 revolutions per minute, each capable of creating an Instant Party if only given a chance - trapped forever in a sepulchre by the sea?...We had to do something, anything. We put a call out to friends in the area who might be able to help try to pull records from the wreckage. Within hours, old friends, new friends, people we'd never met before, emerged from their own grim situations to lend muscle and hustle and gristle and sizzle in a massive effort to move thousands of tons of records onto higher ground."
In addition to recovery efforts within the warehouse, bands all over the world, whose music had been inspired in part by the rockin' sounds put forth from the mighty Norton label, began to organize benefit concerts to help Billy and Miriam get Norton back on its feet. New York, of course, and L.A., Seattle, Memphis, Pittsburgh, London, among other hip hotspots around the world.
Here in Austin, the idea for a Norton fundraiser had been put forth by numerous scenemakers, including Mal Thursday and Antone's talent buyer John O'Neill, but it was renowned local drummer Mike Buck (Eve & the Exiles, LeRoi Brothers, Fabulous Thunderbirds) who took the bull by the horns, programming and organizing the January 16th show, along with his wife and fellow Exile Eve Monsees. Buck also designed the poster, which will be on sale at the show, proceeds to benefit the cause. In addition, there will be a silent auction of some choice items from such fine local retailers Antone's Records, American Icon, and Waterloo Records, including eight hours of recording time at East Side Tone.
It's a great night of music for a great cause. Even if the weather has been a bit nippy of late, that's no excuse to miss this shakin' shindig. Be there or be square, kids.
The Austin Norton Records Relief Benefit will be happening Wednesday evening January 16th at Antone's Nightclub, 213 West Fifth Street. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Advance tickets available at antones.net.