Margaret Moser Tribute: John Cale

Velvet Underground co-founder on first meet: “Up walks a petite blonde with all the swagger of someone 10 feet tall”


Margaret and John Cale at KGSR during SXSW 2005 (Photo by Todd V. Wolfson)

The early days of my love affair with Austin – those days when my band and I roamed the hinterlands of Oklahoma DRIVING WEST in an Econoline van packed with sleepy, angry musicians and their gear – we still had NYC in our back pockets. This Welsh boy, now familiar with the 24-hour mania of NYC, was off to explore the other U.S., the one you weren’t sure would accept you or your brand of art rock/punk.

My music wasn’t blues. It wasn’t anything particularly associated with the Southwest. Better learn their ways, but more importantly, understand what not to say or do when you’re the intruder. Mind your manners – learn your place.

Driving exhausted and hung over from one Southern state to the next, we never lost that arrogant veneer that nothing could happen to us. We were resplendent in the cloak that New Yorkers everywhere wear. You didn’t need to carry a gun to make that point. Once, after a show, we were invited by some locals to stop by their farm on our way out of town. The promise of a party with all its expectations!

Instead, I was gifted a genuine World War II Luger! Ahhh, this is the South!

At a large wooden hall called the Armadillo, the headline had been “God Comes to the Armadillo” – so different from anything the VU had encountered. Gleefully wincing at the marquee, up walks a petite blonde with all the swagger of someone 10 feet tall. She grabs hold and says she’s “Margaret” and she’s there to welcome my band to the venue. In that moment, I understood I’d found someone who knew the score and was there to make sure we didn’t trip up too badly. We checked into a small hotel nearby and drank ourselves to sleep. The following morning, I awoke to a ruckus coming from the pool.

I walked outside, there was Margaret with her gin & tonic in hand at poolside loudly laying into someone in the water. Her friend sat in a chair nearby, but neither were interested in swimming. I tucked into a six-pack and was goaded to get in the water. Rather than do that, I sidled up behind Margaret and gently pushed her into the pool.

Being fully dressed, she was not happy and spluttered at me while her friend stood up and called me various names before helping Margaret out of the pool and into her room nearby. As the door closed, I heard her tell Margaret that I’d better not try that with her, because she had something in her handbag I could chew on. Margaret told me later it was a Charter Arms .38 – a favorite means of dissuasion with Texas ladies.

Throughout the ensuing years, I proudly witnessed Margaret’s intense passion for cultivating a true family of her wayward artists as we all passed through her backyard year in and year out. If ever there’s anything to learn about true loyalty and a die-hard love of life, she’s the master. Her name is synonymous with so much of the Austin music landscape – stories upon stories of countless musicians seeking refuge and advice – but mostly it’s her unfailing generosity and kindness.

From day one, she’s worn her heart on her sleeve and displayed mad love for me and everyone who dared dream of being a part of the Austin creative community. Never shy, always ready to box with anyone purporting injustices, she made nurturing her true religion, and that’s an indelible mark, never to be removed.

  • Margaret Moser Tribute: Leader of the Pack

    The importance of being Margaret Moser as told to 23 of her peers, mentors & protégés
  • Susan Antone

    “If I could do in my lifetime half of what she’s done, I’d be a happy person”

    Marcia Ball

    “She’s a music writer who writes to enlighten”

    Lou Ann Barton

    The blues belter on what it's like to have your career chronicled by the best

    Ray Benson

    Soap Creek Saloon on a 10-cent tequila night

    Alice Berry

    On the Texas Blondes: “We were just cute girls who liked cute bands”

    Alvin Crow

    Summer camp with the kids

    Joe Doerr

    Pulling out a seat at Austin music’s banquet table

    Joe Ely

    “She always stirred up whatever trouble there was”

    Roky Erickson

    On Margaret’s personal and passionate way of writing about music

    Alejandro Escovedo

    “Her love for the Velvet Underground and John Cale was the same as I had”

    Rosie Flores

    “Austin wouldn’t be Austin if it wasn’t for Margaret”

    Gary Floyd

    Promoting punk, Austin, Texas-style

    Denny Freeman

    Remembering that “little blues cult”

    Chris Gates

    The power of print – and a 20-inch dildo

    Eliza Gilkyson

    The best advice she ever received? Keep your dogs clean.

    Jon Dee Graham

    A champion of Austin music – and Austin music writers

    Emily Gimble

    “She’s such a positive force in the world”

    Warren Hood

    “She’s the coolest, hippest lady”

    Tamir Kalifa

    Mother Falcon's mama bear

    Barbara K

    The power of music for fixing things and opening hearts
  • Chris Layton

    Antone’s, 1979: Hurricane Margaret blows in

    Paddy Moloney

    "You felt you were in safe hands with Margaret"

    Jason McMaster

    “She’s as metal as anyone – maybe even more”

    Augie Meyers

    “You can’t replace Margaret. There’s no more people like her.”

    Eve Monsees

    The confidence booster

    Derek O'Brien

    A great writer, and a great partier, too

    Rose Reyes

    “She was the leadership in Austin journalism that made sure women, Latinos, blacks, and youth weren’t overlooked”

    The Rolling Stones

    That Margaret Moser, she’s a rainbow

    Shawn & Shandon Sahm

    Beautiful Texas sunshine

    Larry Seaman

    “I don’t want to be greedy, but I want a little more time”

    Charlie Sexton

    The United Nations of Margaret

    Jeff Smith

    The case for San Antonio as the true heart of Texas music

    Angela Strehli

    “Margaret was always exuberant, cherubic, and mischievous simultaneously”

    Jesse Sublett

    When the Queen calls, you come

    Tiarra Girls

    “She will always be such an important part of our story”

    Kathy Valentine

    Right place, right time, right woman to share the joy with

    Jimmie Vaughan

    “Everything back then felt like us versus them – and she was one of us”

    Patricia Vonne

    Shine a light

    Monte Warden

    The career kick-starter

    Lucinda Williams

    The life of the party

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Margaret Moser, John Cale, Velvet Underground, Armadillo World Headquarters, God Comes to the Armadillo, Margaret Moser Tribute

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