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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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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