Austin Musicians Need to Organize

RECEIVED Mon., April 20, 2009

Dear Editor,
    So the city of Austin wants to start enforcing a sound ordinance of 70 decibels in restaurants. Another bonehead move from “the live music capital of the world.” Interesting isn't it, that the city waited until after South by Southwest and its $100 million in the city's coffers? From now until the dog days of summer are some of the most glorious days in Austin. Musicians will be losing places to play, and the city will lose some of the magic that makes it Austin. Once again, bread is snatched from the mouths of Austin musicians.
    During SXSW, most local musicians don't work much. Musicians from out of town pay to play. Friends of mine earned less than usual, worked less than usual, and paid more than usual for parking. You do the math. It seems we are being sold a bill of goods. This is the “exploited musician capital of the world.” Musicians come to Austin only to be exploited by booking agents, club owners, and especially city fathers who are all lip service and no real help.
    The city of Austin's music office has been delayed. Good. I don't really know how much more “help” we need from City Council. Pinetop Perkins, a certified American musical treasure, at 95, has been found in violation of the noise ordinance. He was not playing in Metallica. Musicians in this town get fewer guarantees and more gigs for tips. As long as musicians accept this, they have no one but themselves to blame.
    During the Republic of Texas Biker Rally, the noise ordinance is repealed for the weekend because the bikers fill our hotels and restaurants and bring their money. I suggest a moratorium or a boycott until this asinine ordinance is repealed or modified. We musicians have to do something to make City Hall take us seriously. Perhaps the musicians should make the music stop since the only thing the city seems to understand is the economic impact. During the biker rally coming up, let's shut down Austin music. Hell, we won't be able to hear ourselves over the Harleys anyway.
Yours in struggle,
Rusty Trapps
   [Louis Black responds: Although I don't know exactly what the policies of non-SXSW clubs and events are, musicians do not pay to play at SXSW. They are either paid or in lieu of payment take a badge and wristbands.]
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