SXSW Dispatch: Don’t Talk to Me About Music, Dammit

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nick-urata.jpgSo here’s the catch about covering the music portion of SXSW: after a day or two of playing as many as four sets a day and doing back-to-back interviews, musicians are tired of playing music, and even more tired of talking about it. Sometimes they’re hung over, or tired, hungry, annoyed, grouchy, or just a little disinterested. Can’t say I blame them; although they knew what they were getting into when they showed up, no?

The up-side is that when you tell someone you’re interviewing them for Mother Jones, suddenly their face lights up and they say screw jabbering about music, let’s talk politics. It’s happened consistently while here in Austin. So, here’s a brief glimpse at what’s on the minds of musicians at SXSW in 2008:

“I basically stopped reading all newspapers—except the sports sections— in early 2003. I just don’t really trust anyone. They’re all kind of crazy,” James McNew, bassist, Yo La Tengo.

“Obama came on the tele, and I was crying out, punching the air, saying ‘Yes, Yes!’,” Dave Wakeling, founder, the English Beat.

“We’re all foreigners,” Sandra Lilia, guitarist/singer, Pistolera.

“Let’s beach an aircraft carrier, and give that money we were spending to keep it afloat to some schools. We could pay for f!*king healthcare, but we pay for defense. Maybe people will finally f!*king vote in 08. But it’s only March, and it’s more bulls!*t every day,” Nick Urata, founder/singer/guitarist, DeVotchka.

“Democracy is a mass movement. If we don’t take a stand, and take democracy back, it will be taken from us. We need a major movement, and a plan to grow,” Richard Bowden, founder, Million Musicians March, Austin.

—Gary Moskowitz
(photo of Nick Urata of DeVotchka)

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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