Treading in the Ether

Robin Wilson and the Gas Giants have a phantom hit

Which, Wilson says, is infinitely better than playing support for white blues rocker Kenny Wayne Shepherd. "After those shows we'd have like, maybe two people come up to the merch booth and buy stuff from us. It wasn't a real ideal pairing."

The band has been out on the road for two- to three-month stretches and hopes to pair up with another name headliner before hitting as many summer radio fests as possible.

But Wilson acknowledges that after nine months of effort and little in terms of tangible numbers, both he and the record company will have to consider giving up and moving on to the next projects -- the release of the Poppin' Wheelies record and a follow-up to Backburner. Heartening for Wilson's cause is the fact that tour mates Train were in a similar situation, touring and promoting their current album and single, "Meet Virginia," for more than 15 months before finding success.

While we doubt he can actually shoot light from his hands, Gas Giants Robin Wilson (center) will be releasing his local Uranus Presents compilation this week
John Eder
While we doubt he can actually shoot light from his hands, Gas Giants Robin Wilson (center) will be releasing his local Uranus Presents compilation this week

"We're not going to give up on "Quitter' until the last possible minute," says Wilson adamantly. "We have enough signs that it's researching well enough to justify us keeping after it. The record-company people and the people at McCluskey and Associates, they use all kinds of mathematical formulas to calculate if something is working or if something is a hit or not. And all of the math says we've got a hit on our hands. The only problem is actually selling records."

The Uranus Presents CD release party is scheduled for Saturday, May 13, at Long Wong's in Tempe. The concert will feature performances by Sonic Thrills, Haggis, and Ghetto Cowgirl. Showtime is 9 p.m.

Cable Ready: Rap-metalers Bionic Jive, fresh off their performance at the New Times Music Showcase, were invited to perform on Jimmy & Doug's Farmclub.com, a program on the USA Television Network. Admittedly, we were unfamiliar with the show (when my TV's tuned to cable it's fixed on Lifetime. Call me a sally, but the Golden Girls tickle this writer's funny bone -- and the tarty Rue McClanahan is oh so easy on the eyes). So we decided to do a little checking, and it turns out that Farmclub.com is a new concept in television programming -- kind of like Star Search for the interactive age. The live-music program features unsigned bands performing in a talent competition with the online/viewing public serving as judges. Episode content is split between music from competitors and guest spots by established national acts. The Jivers traveled to Los Angeles last weekend to tape their appearance. Group leader Larry Elyea reports the trip was a success that saw them share a Farmclub.com bill with big names Juvenile and System of a Down. The episode is set to air on Monday, May 22, at 8 p.m. on USA.

And the Winners Are . . . : We got a nice chuckle when the Rep recently questioned the relative "meaning" in winning a New Times showcase award, quite a damning condemnation when you consider the source. After all, who knows more about being meaningless than the folks over at the Rep? But for the 13,000-plus who turned out for the event and the thousands of others who voted, this year's showcase was the biggest and, dare we say, best ever. After a week spent tabulating ballots, the winners were finally revealed at a ceremony held at Alice Cooper'stown last Thursday. The awards were handed out by yours truly, and fortunately, this year's trophy (which kind of looked like a giant penny with a severed ear on it) was far less scandalous than last year's decidedly phallic-looking hardware.

To the victors. Leading off were a trio of champs defending their crowns: Sistah Blue, Cousins of the Wize and Barrio Latino all got return wins in the blues, hip-hop and Latino categories, respectively, while local icon and all-around good guy Walt Richardson was once again the top vote-getter in the reggae/ska department. Haggis was also a back-to-back victor, though this year's kudo came in the newly constituted pop grouping.

First-time entrants Ghetto Cowgirl, Subterranean Jazz and DJ Lego took the rock, jazz and DJ awards. Punk glamour gals the Peeps also earned the nod in their debut appearance, while newbies the Rumble Cats took home top honors in the roots division.

Twang artistes Flathead were hard-fought winners in an Americana tussle that saw them edge out the young and hungry Truckers on Speed, while another group of youthful upstarts, Tolerance, actually did claim the prize for best hard/modern rock band. And in a showcase first, the band voted most likely to make it big, Victims in Ecstacy, lost in the industrial category to repeat champs Radio Free America.

The ceremony itself was a thoroughly enjoyable affair that saw rock winners Ghetto Cowgirl play an opening set before surrendering the stage for a free-for-all jam session featuring Haggis, Truckers on Speed (who ripped through a cover of Neil Young's "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" and "Lightnin' Speed" by fellow locals the Piersons) and the nattily dressed Sonic Thrills -- who, falling short in the rock category, decided to play a tongue-in-cheek version of "Born to Lose." Mini-sets from punkers the Impossibles and future big shots Victims in Ecstacy followed. By the time the last chords rang out, the event, much like the free open bar, was but a memory with talk already turning to the 2001 showcase.

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