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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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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