Last Thursday, amid the hustle and bustle of our Downtown, a sanctuary of benches and palm trees next to the Austin Music Hall was christened Margaret Moser Plaza for the Chronicle’s senior music writer. The next day, after 33 years logged on this newsweekly’s music beat, she retired.
As lovingly summated by Kevin Curtin in “Playback,” the latest in a not-so-long line of Chronicle Music news columns following in the footsteps of Moser’s first scene reports back in the Stone Age, she dedicated her life to the Austin music scene and to all sounds in general – film, teenagers, laughter. That she and I won’t be trading emails anymore on a weekly basis leaves a hole in my job the size of the Yucatan crater.
Her last day on the paper’s payroll, Friday, May 16, also coincided with Margaret’s 60th birthday, as thrillingly marked by Mother Falcon at the Belmont that night. The show, a fundraiser between the two parties for attendance to the local indie orchestra’s summer music program, could be heard rushing down the alleyways of skyscrapers nearby. On the spectacular outside patio, the band’s Tamir Kalifa said from the stage that there basically wouldn’t have been a Mother Falcon had Moser not championed Austin teen acts long and hard.
At 10:15pm, when I arrived – present in hand – I missed my dearest and oldest of Austin family members by minutes. In her third bout with chemotherapy, she lasted longer at the performance than she had any right to. A bit distraught, I called her from the club’s inside stage and we talked for 30 minutes, laughing over our initial point of connection more than two decades ago, which I’d speechified on at the dedication – Re-Animator’s Barbara Crampton. She made me promise to keep her working, and we even threw around some ideas.
Enough credit cannot be paid to another one-of-a-kind ATX blond, Susan Moffat, who colluded with the ladies of local politics – Council members Laura Morrison, Kathie Tovo, and Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole – to honor our sister in arms with a spot where she oversaw the tented backstage area of too many Austin Music Award ceremonies to count. Its new namesake and I laughed long and hard Friday about the proper, rock & roll manner to christen Margaret Moser Plaza. If you know her like I do, you know it’s NOT with a bottle of champagne and hand-holding.
Fortunately, the video of the dedication that the city sent along yesterday contains no such adult content. The heartwarming musical segments, produced by the incomparable William Harries Graham, are only hinted at here, but trust me, Kevin Russell covering “With a Little Help from My Friends” and chorusing with Graham’s father Jon Dee, Charlie Sexton, and Chris Masterson on Doug Sahm’s “She’s About a Mover” for the honoree prove that no matter how urban our Downtown becomes, Margaret Moser Plaza will be a safe haven for old-school Austin.
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