Get to know Dianne Scott with us. We sat down with Dianne outside of The Continental Club just before Planet Casper took the stage. To me and most people I know, Dianne is a part of the club. Bricks, mortar, Steve and Dianne, etc. I was excited that she agreed to talk with us. I am friends with Dianne on fb and was inspired to continue the “Fuck cancer” tattoo trend by getting myself branded in support of people battling this disease. Thank you Dianne. Our team this time was Belinda, Rockslide and me (transcribed by CC Bonney). Thank you for reading…
AustinDaze: How did you wind up in Austin?
Dianne: I had been a performer, talent buyer, booking agent, and band manager in Upstate New York. When I moved here in 1987 it was with the express purpose of working for C.B. “Stubb” Stubblefield. A radio DJ friend had given me Joe Ely’s first album. I was fascinated by the whole thing, including the photo on the back that was taken at Stubb’s first BBQ joint in Lubbock. Once I found out that Joe, and Stubb, and lots of other Lubbock and other well-known musicians were in Austin, that sealed the deal. I wanted to work for Stubb and meet all of them. And I did. Within a month of moving here I was working for him, and I developed a close relationship with him and many of those musicians. He loved introducing me to people because I got so excited about it! He took me to meet John Lee Hooker, and Bobby “Blue” Bland at Antone’s. Plus, people like Albert King, James Cotton, Buddy Guy, George Thorogood, and Tom T. Hall were regulars at Stubb’s when they were in town. It was intoxicating!
AustinDaze: Can you tell us the story about how you came to have one of the coolest jobs in Austin? Because not everybody gets to say they work at the coolest club in the world.
Dianne: Well, I was actually a booking agent here in town and a lot of the acts that I booked played here at the Continental Club. So I got to know Steve on a professional basis. And I knew that of all the club owners I had done business with, he was the one with the most fairness, and the most integrity. So this kind of became my home club where I hung out when I wasn’t working. And on the 5th anniversary of Steve having the club, at that time his current wife, Gabby, was the bar manager. And she called me that afternoon and asked me if I was coming to the club that night for New Year’s Eve. And I said, “Yes.” And she said, “Do you want to make some money while you’re here?” And I stopped for a second and said, “Doing what?” And she said, “Working the front door.” And then she started crying and she said, “It’s our 5th anniversary and we don’t have anybody to work the front door.” Ha ha ha. So I said, “Sure, I’ll do it.” And I worked the front door, then I moved to the back, and I’ve been at the back ever since. And that was 21 ½ years ago. Ha ha ha.
AustinDaze: Over the years, you’ve gotten to be around and met some really interesting people. What are some of your best stories you have?
Dianne: There is more than a handful, but the ones that come immediately to mind are the first year that we held our Wanda Jackson’s Birthday Bash. It was so spectacular because our dear friend, Rosie Flores, had just gotten Wanda out of retirement. And when she recorded her Rockabilly Filly album, she called on Wanda to come and do songs with her. So that South by Southwest, they ended up performing here together. And the following Fall, we had our very first Wanda Jackson Birthday Bash. And now we still have them every year. And then there was the time, also during South by Southwest, the back door opened up, and I looked and I immediately recognized the gentleman sticking his head in, and he said, “Um, I’m going to be playing here later, would it be okay if I came in and used your bathroom?” And I said, “Absolutely, Mr. Kristofferson, you are welcome to.” And meeting Robert Plant was wonderful, but having him come in the back door and say, “Hi Dianne, how are you today?” is the best. Hearing Robert Plant say your name is absolutely tremendous. And then there was meeting Dwight Yoakum. And there was having Buck Owens be here for his birthday bash one year. And seeing him with tears coming out his eyes while The Derailers were playing one of his songs. And hearing him duet with Kelly Willis. And having James Burton here. Having all these legends that I grew up loving, like Archie Bell and Roy Head, and Barbara Lynn and Barbara Mason, and all of these people, its just amazing that I now, in my 60’s, am meeting some of my heroes and actually getting to be friendly with them. Like Tony Joe White. He was just here. And I just ended up telling him that I’ve been telling everyone that he’s my boyfriend. And he said, “All right!” And that was pretty good by me. And there’s plenty more where that came from.
AustinDaze: Are you involved in booking these people?
Dianne: No, I don’t have anything to do with the booking at all, that is Steve’s and Celeste’s territory, not mine. What I do is the promotions and publicity after they’ve been booked. I write the Continental Confidential, which is our weekly newsletter. And I also do all of the PR. I do the press releases and I maintain the websites for C-Boys and The Continental Club and The Gallery. And I do all the social media sites, and I stay pretty active on all of those.
AustinDaze: So you’ve been around and seen Austin change so much. How do you see the changes affecting musicians in town?
Dianne: I think the affordability here is certainly an aspect of what made Austin so popular as a place for musicians to come and live and actually thrive with their art. Because first of all, there was no money to fight over here. So it became a very inclusive music scene, because there was no point in arguing over the $10 you were going to get paid at the end of the night. So everybody would show up at everybody else’s gigs and they were all very supportive of each other. And I see that fractured somewhat now, it’s not quite the same as it was. But then you let a musician get in trouble, and who’s there to help them? Every other musician in town. So there’s still a lot of that old ethic that still remains. But that’s the biggest change that I see is that the affordability has made it so difficult for musicians to continue to live here. The money still isn’t in Austin, the business still isn’t in Austin, it’s the creative process that’s here in Austin. So if they can’t be here, there goes the process.
AustinDaze: Well said. How do you feel when you think about our Austin music scene going global? For instance, Gary Clark Jr.
Dianne: Well of course, I’m especially proud of Gary. He’s a friend, and I’ve been watching him play at The Continental Club since he was 18 years old. So I almost have a vested interest in him doing well. And I love seeing our musicians getting the recognition they deserve. However, I know that it’s a double-edged sword. That along with it goes the accusations of selling out. And then you also have musicians who have lived in this Velvet Rut that is Austin, and now they’re having to face the cold hard truth of the real world. And they’re not being always told how wonderful they are. Sometimes they are being told they are a second rate somebody else, or they are not who they think they are. There is criticism now that was not so prevalent when they were in this Velvet Rut, as I call it.
AustinDaze: The musicians that move away seem to always come back.
Dianne: It’s true. Christopher Cross has been gone for 30 years and he is back. There are several musicians…
AustinDaze: Gary’s coming back.
Dianne: Gary actually moved to New York because of his girlfriend, and he has never completely left Austin. As long as his parents and his sisters are here, he’ll always be back in Austin. Always. In fact, his father’s family grew up in the neighborhood right across the street, this was their home area.
AustinDaze: So your post about your cancer tattoo inspired me to get branded for all the people in my life that have been stricken with this disease. Have you influenced more people to get that tattoo other than me?
Dianne: There are actually several of us who have gotten it, and several more that say that they are going to get it. The actual “Fuck cancer” stamp was created when we did a benefit for Michael McCanless, who was known as “Fiddleboy,” and he was the fiddle player for Hank Williams III. When he was stricken with cancer, he ended up going on Hank III’s message board, and every day everybody would go on there and tell how they were going to fuck cancer that day. Sometimes it was, “Up the ass with a nail-studded telephone pole,” and sometimes it was something else. And so that kind of became the start of the “Fuck cancer” movement. So we had the stamp and it just got to the point where I started thinking, and one of our other doormen started thinking, you know, too bad that washes off, I guess it doesn’t have to. So we went next door and got our tattoos. The only difference between mine and some others is that I refuse to capitalize the “c” in cancer. I will never capitalize the “c” because I feel that words have power, and that particular word already has more power than it deserves. And so to take away some of its power I use a “smaaaall c” instead of a capitalized “c”. So Nick Curran when he got his tattoo done, followed suit, and there is another person who has done the same. But I highly encourage that.
AustinDaze: Is there anything else you want to add?
Dianne: Thank you Russ for keeping us in the news. It’s a wonderful thing that you do, it is much appreciated.
AustinDaze: Are there any other stories I should ask you about? Anything else you want to tell me?
Dianne: Boy, there are a lot of them I’d like to tell you, but I can’t. Ha ha ha.
AustinDaze: What do you think about the Continental Club expanding? It started with one club, and now there are three. What do you think of the expansion?
Dianne: I think that Steve is very, very good at what he does. What he has done is create a niche for all of his passions. This is his roots rock club, the Gallery is his jazz club, and C-Boys is his soul and funk club. He has managed to find a different place to suit all of his musical tastes, and fit more bands in! Because now in fact, C-Boys, you know it started out that we were only going to do music on Friday and Saturday night. Of course now its most Sundays, its Tuesdays, it’s Wednesdays, its Thursdays, its Fridays, its Saturdays. 8 ½ Souvenirs is even back for Tuesday Happy Hours. We also have Jitterbug Vipers doing a Friday Happy Hour residency. We’ve got all these different things going on. Sunday is devoid of residencies because that’s where we can do benefits and road shows that are looking for just a quick gig some place in town. We can put them over there on a Sunday night. So yeah, its shaping up very well.
AustinDaze: The TuesdaZe and WednesdaZe shows I’ve seen up in The Gallery are AlwaZe amazing!
Dianne: The Continental Club Gallery is an amazing space to begin with, there is something about that particular space.
AustinDaze: The acoustics are really good.
Dianne: Yes, exceptional acoustics considering there are so many windows, and all of that, and the high ceiling. But it has a really good sound to it. It is the perfect space especially for acoustic shows. And then there’s the Quarterly Tertulias every three months. It is a mixture of artists who are writers, poets, and musicians. They are given a theme for that particular presentation. And many of the musicians write to that theme, and then the writers write to that theme as well. We’ve had some comedy skits, and there have been what you could almost call some one-act plays, as well as the original songs. It is an amazing experience.
AustinDaze: All Steve has to do is open a coffee shop, and I wouldn’t go anywhere else!
Dianne: I know. I have suggested that we get Jo’s coffee to expand their kitchen to our Gallery. That hasn’t happened yet. But hopefully, eventually that’s gonna happen. Actually, I see the Gallery as a space very much akin to what Chicago House used to be. Chicago House during the 80’s and 90’s, downtown at 607 Trinity, was a music and art space. Music was divided into shows and open mic nights. Jimmie LaFave hosted the Wednesday open mic for ages. There was always art on the walls for sale, there were books in a bookshelf for sale. They served coffee and snack-type foods. And there were one-act plays, and poetry readings. And all of those things I see happening compatibly in the Gallery. But we haven’t moved quite in that direction yet. But it’s getting there. If Steve agrees to it.
AustinDaze: I’ve been at the Gallery just about every Wednesday. It’s so good, they always carry me upstairs.
Dianne: Well, I wish we had an elevator.
AustinDaze: Me too!
Dianne: Maybe somebody would donate us one of those ones that go on the stairway, and it could go up on the fire escape?
AustinDaze: Yeah, like at C-Boys. Well, thank you Dianne.
Dianne: Thank you.