From the Vaults: Before the Deluge

‘Roadie’ beat these other music festivals to Austin


Back before Austin became a music-festival capital, Willie Nelson and his 4th of July picnics practically had the landscape all to themselves.

Then a couple writers from the Austin Sun, Michael Ventura and James Big Boy Medlin, were commissioned to write the screenplay for a movie called Roadie. (The Sun was this city’s alternative paper, and published between 1974 and 1978. After it folded, many of the staff members, including Ventura and Medlin, moved to Los Angeles and founded the LA Weekly.)

Roadie was filmed around Austin and released in 1980. It’s directed by Alan Rudolph (who also directed Choose Me, Songwriter, and Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle) stars Meat Loaf as the titular roadie, and much of it was filmed at the Manor Downs racetrack. The events in the movie weren’t festivals per se, but more the flavor of arena concerts. Ventura had a complicated relationship with the movie over the years, which he wrote about in a Letters at 3AM column, “Roadie: 30 Years Later.” Margaret Moser, who appeared as an extra in the film, had a much more gleeful experience with the production and told the story last year in her column, One, Two, Tres, Cuatro.

So, while out there enjoying the live music on Auditorium Shores this weekend, remember to hoist one for the unsung roadies.

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Roadie, Michael Ventura, Margaret Moser, Meat Loaf, James Big Boy Medlin

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