Liberty Lunch Reunion in Austin Features Wild Seeds, Pressure, and More


Do you still miss Liberty Lunch? If so, Saturday’s show at the Far Out Lounge is for you — so much so that it’s actually called “I Still Miss Liberty Lunch.”

After opening in the 1970s on the site of a former lumber yard on West Second Street, Liberty Lunch became one of Austin’s best-loved live music venues in the 1980s and 1990s, until as the city-owned land it was built on became sold off to make way for new tech ventures. That’s all the water under the adjacent South First Street Bridge at present, given the transformations downtown has undergone since then.

But many longtime Austin music fans still remember it, and when some of them created the Facebook page “I always miss Liberty Lunch” a decade ago, Lunch’s former owners, Mark Pratz and J’net Ward, responded in the same way. They hosted a reunion show in 2016 at ABGB that went well enough to warrant a sequel.

From the archive:Our 2016 interview with Liberty Lunch’s Mark Pratz and J’Net Ward

The pandemic intervened, but Pratz and Ward pushed on, even after emerging variants delayed a meeting at the Far Out Lounge that was originally scheduled for last fall. Now, however, all systems work. Saturday’s all-ages event runs from noon to midnight with performances from a dozen local baking groups, some of whom have come together for the occasion.

There’s also a silent auction that runs until 6 p.m. featuring shirts, posters, and more from local and touring bands that played lunchtime at its peak. Admission is $10, and all proceeds after costs will go to the SIMS Foundation and HOME (Accommodation options for musicians and artists). Liberty Lunch t-shirts will also be sold.

The Far Out Lounge is a spacious outdoor area with a small indoor bar. The land includes several food trucks. There is also a new Torchy just across the street. Parking is limited, so the location encourages carpooling. The new HEB at South Congress Avenue and Slaughter Lane is just a few blocks south; its parking lot is large but often crowded with customers on weekends.

Former Liberty Lunch owners Mark Pratz and J'Net Ward and former employee Betsy Nissen, left, show memorabilia at the 2016

Various members of the music community will perform the acts throughout the day, including Dianne Scott of the Continental ClubJeff McCord of KUTX, Andy Langer and Loris Lowe of Austin City Limits Radio, Kevin Connor and Mark Murray of Sun Radio, Kevin Curtin of Austin Chronicle, local radio personality Drew Bennett, journalist/author David Menconi, and yours truly American Statesman/Austin360.

Related:Darden Smith’s expansive ‘Western Skies’ combines music, essays, photos

Here’s who’s playing and when:

1 to 1:30 p.m.: Larry Seaman

An Austin mainstay since the heyday of 1980s new-wave rockers, the Standing Waves, Seaman fronted several other bands in the ’90s and recently began recording records under his own name. He will be joined by Kim Longacre, best known as singer-guitarist with the Reivers, and Walter Daniels, formerly of Bigfoot Chester and Jack O’Fire and more recently head of the Del Valle Trustees.

1:45 p.m. to 2:25 p.m.: Tail Gators

Formed in the mid-1980s by former LeRoi Brothers guitarist Don Leady, the Tailgators were masters of swamp-rock, blending Texas root forms with Louisiana Cajun influences on several acclaimed albums. Leady started the band a few years ago with a new lineup (original bassist Keith Ferguson died in 1997).

2:40 p.m. to 3:20 p.m.: Dump truck

Guitarist Seth Tiven’s indie rock band first made waves in Boston with albums such as 1987’s “For the Country.” It rebuilt its backing band after moving to Austin in the early 1990s, recording five more albums over the past three decades. Expect a mix of songs from the Austin and Boston years.

Doctors' Mob is among the bands reuniting to play on Saturday

3:35 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.: Crowd of doctors

“Come drunk, come late, or don’t show up at all” was the motto of this 1980s Austin band who had a reputation for being pranksters, but made music that balanced the melodic songwriting brilliantly. with a scenic energy close to metal. Meetings have been held on and off since the 1990s; when the Mafia hits theaters, you can pretty much rest assured that it’s a good occasion.

4:30 p.m. to 5:10 p.m.: Wild Seeds

For more than two decades, Michael Hall was a respected writer for Texas Monthly, but in the 1980s he was best known as the frontman of this melodious rock & roll outfit that had songs like “I Can’t Rock You All Night”. Long.” Hall played a key role in Liberty Lunch’s final year by hosting a “Gloriathon,” which featured a long list of Austin musicians taking turns on stage during a 24-hour set that consisted of “Gloria” by Van Morrison played over and over and over again.

5:20 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.: Walter Tragert

Speaking of the Gloriathon: The longtime local singer-songwriter paid tribute to that unforgettable day/night last year releasing “Twenty Four Hours (of GLORIA)”, a bittersweet memory of the event and the Liberty Lunch itself. He’ll only play one song at Saturday’s event, offering something of a boon to the deal.

Kathy McCarty will perform as part of Saturday

5:40 p.m. to 6:10 p.m.: Kathy McCarty

In the 1980s, McCarty often played Lunch with Glass Eye, arguably the most inventive of Austin’s bands of that era. She helped bring attention to Daniel Johnston in the 1990s with “Dead Dog’s Eyeball”, a full album of Johnston songs. One of them, “Living Live”, was played in the credits of Richard Linklater’s 1995 film “Before Sunrise”. Now we have a book-ending moment: Linklater’s new movie “Apollo 10 1/2” features McCarty singing Johnston’s “Rocketship” in the credits.

6:25 p.m. to 6:55 p.m.: Eve & the Exiles

Austinite native Eve Monsees has grown to be a key player in the Antone Kingdom: she co-owns Antone’s Record Shop with her husband and often plays at the club. But lunch still has a sweet place in its heart, and its presence on the poster highlights how the city’s live music venues often complement each other more than they compete.

Eve Monsees will perform with Eve & the Exiles for Saturday

7:09 p.m. to 7:50 p.m.: The Savages of Uranium

How exactly to explain the Uranium Savages? The description on their Facebook page sums it up pretty succinctly: “Musical troupe, funny, crazy, weird, playing in Austin for 45 years and not yet dead! The group is led by famed local muralist and artist Kerry Awn, whose ties to Sixth Street comedy troupe Esther’s Follies dovetails with the Lunch’s history. The founders of Esther’s were the original owners of the Lunch before Pratz and Ward took it over.

8:05 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.: Outings

Posters of local bands at Lunch in the late 1980s and early 1990s frequently featured this group, whose jangly rock & roll, taken to another level by the soaring voice of singer Kim Hayes, was a perfect match for the spirit of the times. The Wayouts never really got the chance to get into bigger things like the Reivers and the True Believers, but an album they recorded in 1993 for a European label finally appeared on Spotify a few years ago. months, and it’s glorious to hear those old songs again.

Continued:When Liberty Lunch was the place

9:05 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.: Pressure

Reggae was a big part of Liberty Lunch’s identity, as the club featured many Jamaican creators of the form. The sound connected with Austin audiences and led to the appearance of several local reggae groups in the 1980s. The pressure was among the best of them, and when Pratz and Ward organized the first show “I Still Miss Liberty Lunch” six years ago, the pressure was on.

10:05 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.: Extreme heat

Originally called Steamheat when they released their debut album in 1975 on local label Fable Records, this horn-led funk-soul-jazz-rock ensemble went on to release half a dozen albums and several EPs under the name from Extreme Heat. The eight-piece band includes vocalist Bruce Spellman and famed local percussionist James Fenner.

11 p.m. to 11:45 p.m.: Shoulders

Michael Slattery’s carnival rock outfit was endlessly entertaining. He would occasionally beat the drum with a big marching band while singing at the top of his voice about the garbage men or his uncle Achin’ while the marching band rolled behind him like a clown car propelled by corn liquor. They seem like a perfect act to end this 12 hour party.

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