The Austin Lounge Lizards have been performing satirical folk music in Austin and around the US and Canada for more than 26 years. The Lizards have become the darlings of activist groups, who have relied on their songwriting talents to parody subjects such as abuses of the pharmaceutical industry, media conglomerates, health care and more.
AUSTIN LOUNGE LIZARDS - Strange Noises in the Dark
The Austin Lounge Lizards have delighted audiences from Texas to California, from Canada to the U.K., with their inventive style of satirical folk, country and bluegrass. Based in Austin, Texas, since they formed in 1980, the Lizards have honed their music into a knife-sharp art form.
Trademarks of a Lizards song are highly literate, sharply pointed lyrics that poke fun at politics, love, religion and the culture in general. For example, among the songs on their latest CD, Strange Noises In The Dark, are the title song-a darkly funny tale of a jilted lover obsessed with his ex; "Phil and Jesse," a sweet ode to retired Senators Phil Gramm and Jesse Helms; the self-explanatory "Why Couldn't We Blow Up Saddam?" and "We Always Fight When We Drink Gin," a touching duet with guest vocals by Kelly Willis.
The Lizard musical style features precise four- and five-part vocal harmonies and instrumental mastery, particularly from Conrad Deisler on guitar, Korey Simeone on fiddle and mandolin, and Tom Pittman on banjo, dobro, and pedal steel guitar. Rounding out the group are Hank Card on rhythm guitar and Boo Resnick on bass. Lizard arrangements often include harmonies and instrumental parts that are themselves a spoof of the conventions of bluegrass, country, rock, and pop music. So it's no surprise that the group counts among its influences Frank Zappa, George Jones, Spike Jones, Flatt & Scruggs, Tom Lehrer, and Steve Goodman.
The Austin Lounge Lizards grew out of the songwriting relationship between Hank Card and Conrad Deisler, who met when they were history majors at Princeton University and started writing songs together in 1976. Eventually Card, an Oklahoman, and Deisler, a Texan, ended up at the University of Texas law school together, when they hooked up in 1980 with banjo and steel guitar player Tom Pittman, who had the right academic credentials (a degree in philosophy from the University of Georgia). Originally playing Austin and Texas dates while keeping day jobs as varied as bailiff, construction foreman and administrative law judge, the band has been touring nationally since 1987.
Joining the band later were Boo Resnick, a Detroit native with a degree in history from the University of Michigan, and Korey Simeone, an Idaho native who recently fiddled in the Asylum Street Spankers. His background in music includes classical, swing, mariachi and German hip-hop.
The music of the Austin Lounge Lizards is played on bluegrass and Americana-themed radio shows as well as some of the more "in the know" independent radio stations. The band has appeared at festivals and in concert across the U.S., in Canada, and in the U.K. They have been featured in NPR's Morning Edition, and on the radio programs Mountain Stage and E-Town. Strange Noises In The Dark is the Lizards' 9th CD and their first on the Houston-based Blue Corn label.
Here's a delightful little blurb from "Relish Now" a music and culture publication from North Carolina: LIZARD TALES: The Austin Lounge Lizards have been making music for 25 years, earning a reputation for slaughtering sacred cows. The band - a showroom of tropical shirts - has released nine albums, all dedicated to satirically skewering politics, love, religion and whatever passes for culture. The band's latest disc, Strange Noises In The Dark, contains "We Only Fight When We Drink Gin," a great song destined for country-music apathy. No matter. Who needs Nashville when you can have Austin? The Lizards will perform Jan. 19 at the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte and Jan. 21 at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro.