I have not come to bury Cleopatra but to praise her.
After staging some 30 years of Grammy-like prize nights, Austin Music Awards director Margaret Moser retires after one last ball on Wednesday (see this week’s Music feature, “Passionate Kisses”). That’s akin to Lorne Michaels stepping down from Saturday Night Live. Pull out all the stops? By definition.
Unannounced musical guests? No question, including a last-minute FOB, friend of Bruce (Springsteen). All-star tributes to Moser? If only you’d seen the string of local musicians that passed through my inbox two weeks ago. Awards? Austin never saw Song of the Year coming, trust me. Promised is a night Lucinda Williams herself made sure to headline since she and Moser practically invented “kindred spirits.” Their rise to define Austin music – one and the same.
Today’s Texas Tornados (Augie Meyers, Flaco Jimenez, Shawn Sahm, etc.) remain the keepers of Doug Sahm’s eternal flame, so Moser flashes back to a ground zero of ATX music. Organist Dr. James Polk painted the Eastside purple when Moser boarded the freshly birthed Austin Chronicle in the early Eighties, and in native tenor saxman Elias Haslanger’s Church on Monday combo, chitlun circuit funk survives.
Lest nostalgia deem itself the guest of honor, the Jon Dee Grahams, Will and Charlie Sextons, and Sara Hickmans of tomorrow grant their parents special guest status when the Youngbloods Choir demonstrates which local acts of SXSW 2020 will walk off with an armload at the AMAs.
Margaret, who retires from the Chronicle in May, drew me in and cemented me to this publication in 1992. Barbara Crampton was the password, the secret handshake. Re-Animator? Yes, but lop off those first two letters and that’s Margaret Moser in a word.– Raoul Hernandez
Pound for pound the best representation of Austin indie? Down on Red River and across the highway on East Sixth, these bands tough it out, from a new millennial synth take on X (Kingdom of Suicide Lovers) and girl groups gone bad (Suspirians) to No Wave torpedoes (Dead Space) and boy (Flesh Lights)/girl (Foreign Mothers) punk. Three ATX micro labels, nine Picks & Sleepers™ – free: Ichi Ni San Shi (8pm), Quin Galavis (8:40), Ghost Knife (9:20), Kingdom of Suicide Lovers (10), the Dead Space (10:40), the Best (11:20), Suspirians (12mid), Foreign Mothers (12:40am), Flesh Lights (1:20).– Raoul Hernandez