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Margaret Moser’s Retirement Party

Christopher Cross crowns the Continental’s all-star love-in

By William Harries Graham, 12:45PM, Tue. May. 6

Aloha: (l-r) Larry Seaman, Moser, Marjorie Baumgarten, Todd Wolfson, Susan Moffat, Louis Black, Nick Barbaro, Steve Chaney, yours truly
Aloha: (l-r) Larry Seaman, Moser, Marjorie Baumgarten, Todd Wolfson, Susan Moffat, Louis Black, Nick Barbaro, Steve Chaney, yours truly
photo by Neka Scarbrough

Margaret Moser’s retirement party, which I put together at the Continental Club on Sunday, began at 2:15pm with the rock & roll thrill ride of the Hickoids. No slow build, the show rocked all day long and closed with a surprise performance from Christopher Cross some seven hours later. Moser gasped and held her hand over her mouth when Cross arrived.

For each band that played, Moser was at the side of the stage gazing up. She’s in chemo again, so it was surprising how much she stood. Clara Reed of the Continental Club didn’t miss a beat even for the first band, jumping onstage to dance the famous Reed dance.

Jeff Smith of the Hickoids set the tone, though. By the end of the Hickoids set, his shirt was undone and he knelt at the side of the stage serenading Moser, who swooned like a school girl. How could you start a party better than that?

Eve & the Exiles delivered perfection. To say Monsees is a great musician would be an understatement. What’s really special about the guitarist and co-owner of Antone’s Records is that she retains Austin’s old-school charm and credibility while being young and contemporary here in our new condo city. She couldn’t be nicer, and on Sunday played with Kathy Valentine’s Bluebonnets.

The Wagoneers also performed, something they normally do on Sundays at the Continental. Monte Warden cut the rug with this wife during the Hickoids and has known the guest of honor since he was a teenager. On the other end of the spectrum, Muddy Waters’ harp cat, Paul Oscher, brought the blues home. Oscher’s become a regular at the Continental’s sister venue nearby, C-Boy’s Heart & Soul.

Rosie Flores put on an amazing set with new drummer and second generation Ziolkowski, Victor, who also keeps the beat for Tito & Tarantula. Churchwood delivered a high voltage set, while the Standing Waves reunited specifically at Moser’s request with Steve Marsh as a guest. My father Jon Dee Graham and his Skunks bandmate Jesse Sublett offered up a moving acoustic set.

My band the Painted Redstarts were said to have rocked the house. We played to impress and covered the True Believers’ “She’s Got” for Moser. It’s the only cover we do.

Moser’s boyfriend, Steve Chaney, told me that Christopher Cross was Margaret’s big dream. We aim to please when toasting the legacy of an iconic local writer retiring. Cross gave me a call after he heard I was looking for him, and Scott Ward of Strange Brew was instrumental in arranging the first class performance. Cross played all his hits, from the Oscar-winning theme of Arthur, “Best That You Can Do,” to “Sailin.’”

The Chronicle’s Virginia Wood brought a cake, atop of which in frosting was Moser’s SXSW cover from March. The vibe was an explosion of happiness and music, with folks like ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons dropping by. I’m glad I wasn’t so busy managing the show that I caught my Chronicle employers Louis Black and Nick Barbaro sharing looks and camaraderie with SXSWers Brad First and Roland Swenson.

Their expressions told the whole tale of the reason for this party. Seemed like a good time to cry at the goodbye we all have to say to Moser.

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