December 14, 2005
It's Always Christmastime For Visa

Via Grits, the Austin Lounge Lizards have chipped in to another music/animation project for Consumers Union (see here and here for earlier efforts). This one is about credit cards and the many ways in which the end users get screwed. It's called It's Always Christmastime for Visa and like everything else the Lizards do, it's amusing. Check it out.

By the way, if you want to see more of the Lizards, read this.

It's late May and I'm shooting a documentary in Colorado when an e-mail comes in asking me to contribute to a silent auction benefiting Gretchen and Jon Dee Graham's son Willie, who suffers from Legg-Perthes Syndrome, a degenerative bone disease ("TCB," Music, June 24, 2005). With Gretchen's insurance provider bankrupt, and Willie's condition pre-existing – welcome to America – the child's basically uninsurable.

What to do? In Austin's music community, the answer's easy: Band together. Up went the benefits ("Texas Platters: Live shots," Music, July 1, 2005), Freedom Records' Matt Eskey arranging for the audio/visual souvenir to be sold later. Me? I happened to wander into a radical lesbian bakery in the village where I was working. It had to be kismet – the place is only open, like, two days a week for about 15 minutes per day. While I was in there, I came across a calendar, just sitting on a table, featuring Colorado musicians naked but for their instruments. This wasn't a brand new idea: Those ladies in England took it all off to raise money, and their effort led to a Hollywood movie version of geriatric nude time-keeping devices.

But it was an idea new to Austin. I giggled at the thought of making it happen. Figured I'd call some photographer friends to shoot some musician friends. Within days of my return home, I ran into Joe Ely at a party, and he agreed to pose. With the weight of that Flatlander's "Yes, I'll strip," and with Sara Hickman signing on next, that was enough to get other folks involved. The list of who said no and how they said it (Los Lonely Boys, Patty Griffin, Kelly Willis, Charlie Sexton) is almost as exciting as those who said yes.

Those who said yes are actually more exciting, since, well, they said yes, and then they took it all off. Shawn Colvin, Eliza Gilkyson, Glover Gill, Guy Forsyth, the Small Stars, Kathy McCarty, Matt the Electrician, Michael Fracasso, Nathan Hamilton, Tosca, the New Hot Damn, Southpaw Jones, Patricia Vonne, the Austin Lounge Lizards, and the man himself, Jon Dee Graham.

I've seen their picture - as it happened, a copy of the calendar was at the Mucky Duck when I went to pick up tickets to this Saturday's Lizards show a couple of weeks ago. It must be nice for Korey Simeone to have a butt small enough to be demurely covered by a mandolin, that's all I have to say about it. If you want one of these, go here or here. Read more about the project here. It is for a good cause, and you did need a calendar for 2006, right? So go check it out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 14, 2005 to Music | TrackBack