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Ronnie Lane resumes career in Austin
by Marty Racine
Houston Chronicle; Houston, Tex.; Apr 2, 1987

HE LEFT Houston dispirited and disabled, a victim of Multiple Sclerosis and his own naivete. A trip to London and a move to Austin later, Ronnie Lane is preparing to resume his music career. He officially makes his Houston debut with his new Austin band the Tremors at Rockefeller's Friday.

Lane, you might recall, is one of the seminal figures of British rock. He co-founded the Small Faces in the mid-'60s with Steve Marriot (later replaced by Ron Wood), Ian McLagen (who became a Rolling Stone) and Kenney Jones (who replaced Keith Moon in The Who). He lived the fast and good life, becoming running buddies with the era's greatest stars, notably Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr.

It all came to a halt in the mid-'70s when Lane was diagnosed for MS, the body crippler. Through his physician, he made contacts with MS treatment programs in Houston and lived here while establishing his MS program Action for Research into Multiple Sclerosis (ARMS-America), modeled after ARMS of Britain and funded by $1 million start-up money raised by a celebrated all-star rock tour of the States featuring Lane's closest musician pals.

ARMS disintegrated and went into receivership last year amid divisive staff intrafighting (much of the $1 million was unaccounted for). Lane blamed himself for being too ``innocent'' about whom he trusted. He moved to Austin, attractive not only for being Austin but for its lower humidity, which seems to minimize the effects of MS. He then returned for treatment and rest in Britain.

For the past two months Lane has been woodshedding in the Capital City with the Tremors. Wendesday, April Fool's Day, was his 41st birthday, and he celebrated last night with his first paying performance in years, with the Tremors at Austin's Back Room.

Friday's show is expected to include about 15 songs, old and new, with keyboardist Russell Young, drummer Chris Young, bassist Ronnie Johnson and guitarist Tommy Grim. Special guest will be top notch New Orleans saxophonist Bobby Keyes, who once toured through Space City with the Blasters. The Tremors are planning shows as well in Lubbock, New Orleans, Dallas and the West Coast at the end of April.

Sometimes these stories have a happy ending. Welcome back, Ronnie.

Why be normal? Why not. The weekend in club land is basic, average and typical when: Kings X and Dr. Rockit are at the Ale House; the Banded Geckos are at Anderson Fair; Shake Russell and the Dishes are at Fitzgerald's; Jerry Jeff Walker is at Wunsche Brothers; and Four Hams on Rye and Miss Molly & The Passions are at Chelsea's 804.

As we can deduce, life goes on.

Meanwhile, the critic must play his favorites and, in the public interest, plans to attend:

Alamo Choir, Friday at Blythe Spirits. Quickly becoming one of my favorite new Austin groups, with a smooth, rootsy synthesis of rock and country. Check 'em out.

Dave Van Ronk, Friday at Anderson Fair. For old time's sake. Van Ronk was one of the principals of the Greenwich Village folk-blues scene of the early-'60s. A quiet way to start the evening, before one gets depraved enough to see past midnight with Alamo Choir.

POP NOTES: Austin's True Believers have been cancelled at Fitzgerald's tonight. The date appears on the club calendar but was tentative all along. The band is currently in the studio working on their second album...Andy Williams is no longer essential to the Essential Blues Band. The southpaw guitarist, who had traded lead work and vocals with Jerry Lightfoot for more than a year, has been ``replaced'' by keyboardist Kenny Hall, whose modern flamboyant style is conducive to either co-leads or rhythm duties. With saxophonist Grady Gaines on assignment with his own group and facing a recording session for Black Top Records, the new lineup sends guitarist/vocalist Lightfoot into more of a leadership role. Take the baton and run, Jay-ree. The Essentials, on the by and by, make their first Cafe L.A. appearance Friday and return Saturdays in April to Local Charm, which they put on the musical map last year... Behold the latest Texas-Los Angeles Connection for the hip-happenings in the ``new hillbilly'' scene. Catalyst east of the Pecos is new Austin band the Wagoneers (with Houston drummer Tim Lewis, formerly of 6 Gun), who are positioned on the sunny side of life, and don't let jaded rock critics tell you it's a dark bizness. As we speak they're out in L.A., where tomorrow morning they play the ``Street Scene'' on a bill with Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakam. Friday night they're doing time with Dave Alvin's new band The Allnighters and Austin's Evan Johns & The H-Bombs at Club Lingerie. Sounds boss. The week in L.A. includes a stint in the studio with J.D. Foster, would-be producer and bassist for the Lonesome Strangers, and Dusty Wakeman, engineer on Yoakam's ``Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc''. album. Just checking each other out, understand. The Wagoneers return to play at least three Houston dates in April: the 9th at the Pig & Whistle, the 17th at Private Property and the 24th at Bourbon Street. Definitely a critic's choice. For those whose attention span has been reduced to a pile of twigs by television, I'll bug you again as the dates approach... The Saltwater Cats, who play Local Charm Friday, repair to Dickinson's Limelight Studios Saturday to begin work on a single, ``Love Is A Gamble'' b/w Big House, both Cats' originals...

Saturday will be the first Fajita Cook-off and '50s/'60s Rock 'n' Roll Review and Dance, aka FCO50-60RRRD. It's at Gilley's, with the cook-off at 1 p.m. and the music at 8 p.m. in Gilley's Arena, starring the Diamonds, Del Vikings and the Shirelles. Admission to the cook-off is $2; the music $8. For both, it's $9. Sponsored by the Texas Recreation and Parks Society Ways and Means Committee, which explains it all... Guitar star Joe Walsh has been signed to headline the list of guest auctioneers appearing at KLOL's 4th annual Rock 'n' Roll Auction, scheduled for April 18 at the Hard Rock Cafe... Rock oldies group Johnny Dee & The Rocket 88's headline Aswell's Cafe's 1987 Charity Quadrathon Saturday in the cafe's back yard (2310 Brazos) at 4 and 8 p.m. The Quadrathon, a series of events which started last Saturday, concludes with the Earl Campbell Fun Run Sunday (Buffalo Bayou) and the ABCD Scramble Golf Tourney Monday (Willowisp Country Club). Four Houston charities are the beneficiaries. For more info, call 523-2837...

 


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