True Believers, the Alejandro Escovedo-led guitar army that was at the heart of Austin’s 1980s music scene, headline a benefit concert and public memorial for SXSW creative director Brent Grulke at ACL Live at the Moody Theater on Saturday, September 8.
“Grulkefest: A CELEBRATION OF BRENT / 1961-2012” also features Doctors’ Mob, Fastball, Glass Eye, the Reivers, Sixteen Deluxe, Wannabes, Wild Seeds and other special guests (see the end of this release for set times).
A beloved figure in Austin for more than 30 years, Grulke died of a heart attack at the age of 51 on August 13. He is survived by his wife, Kristen Brock Grulke, and a seven year-old son, Graham. All proceeds from the concert will go to the Graham Grulke Education Fund.
A silent auction for the fund will take also take place at the venue. Among the many items that will be available: posters, prints, SXSW badges and wristbands, a chance to meet the Go-Go’s (at their upcoming ACL Live show), wine, hotel packages, restaurant gift cards and a $3,000 minimum-bid Collings I-35 LC electric guitar. There is also currently anAmazon.com benefit sale, featuring vinyl records out of Grulke’s own (quite legendary) collection.
Led by Alejandro Escovedo, his brother Javier Escovedo and guitarist Jon Dee Graham, along with bassist Denny DeGorio and eventually, drummer Rey Washam, True Believers were just one of the many bands that Grulke worked with in the ‘80s and the ‘90s, as a soundman (where he was always known to crank it up), tour manager, psychologist and friend.
“He was so interconnected with so many bands at the time, and still was until he died,” says Jon Dee Graham, who, like Escovedo, remains a pillar of the Austin music scene. “You couldn’t draw a chart of his involvement because it was just too many points of reference. He was so in love with music first, and musicians next, and Austin music and musicians. More than anyone I’ve ever met before or since.”
Grulke also infamously co-wrote the Wild Seeds’ song“I’m Sorry, I Can’t Rock You All Night Long,” though the sometimes journalist and former Austin Chronicle music editor did not write any words, just the song’s big riff. “Without the riff there would be no song,” says Wild Seeds frontman Michael Hall. “Brent was all about riffs, noise, emotion, spectacle.”
Wild Seeds have not played together in a dozen years, while True Believers last assembled on an Austin stage in 2005, but haven’t done so with this line-up since the early ‘90s. Hall says that rehearsing for the show this week was “like locking into a prior version of yourself–a steadier, younger, more ambitious one.
“And it’s a version of ourselves that we shared with Brent, who had a lot to do with our evolution as musicians and writers,” he continues. “Talk to the musicians in any of these bands and they’ll tell you that Brent had a lot to do with who we were, what we sounded like, how we played. So doing that again takes me right back to being with him too.”
GrulkeFest: A CELEBRATION OF BRENT / 1961-2012
September 8, ACL Live at the Moody Theater.
11:15 True Believers
10:30 Glass Eye
8:15 Wild Seeds
6:45 Sixteen Deluxe
Doors, 5:00 p.m., Show, 6:00 p.m. to midnight
Tickets: $20, $25, $35.