Margaret Moser Tribute: Leader of the Pack

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

Margaret and her best friend and Texas Blondes redhead E.A. Srere at the 1994 Austin Music Awards (Photo by John Carrico)

“One man’s life touches so many others, when he’s not there, it leaves an awfully big hole.”

So teaches us the angel Clarence in 1946 Christmas parable It’s a Wonderful Life. Standing outside at Mohawk on Sunday, June 4 – hours after returning from a San Antonio rendezvous with Margaret Moser, who had entered hospice care that Friday – I reeled off the top of my head two dozen journalists alone she considered close peers, mentors, and protégés.

“In May 1976, I quit a straight job to clean offices and answer phones at the Austin Sun,” Moser emailed last week. “I bullshitted my way into interviewing Spirit for an authorless column called ‘Backstage,’ and I repeated this until I ended up with the column. I kept it for a while, but there’s not a lot of long-form writing of mine until an interim paper, 1978-ish, between the Sun and Chron called Rumors, based out of San Marcos.

“That’s where I break in with Stevie and Lou Ann, Antone’s, and I think the Sex Pistols.”

Between the start of the Chronicle in 1981 and hanging up her press laminate 33 years later (revisit “Margaret Moser Retires,” May 16, 2014), this paper’s most popular and populist voice cut a radical swath through culture both high and low, and every facet of music in between. Born out of education and advocacy – to Willard Cummings Moser, B.A., M.A., B.D., Ph.D. and Phyllis Jackson Stegall, B.A., M.A. – and alpha to three younger brothers (Scott, Stephen, and Bill), the Chicago-born, Gulf Coast-bred, famously uncollegiate lifetime scribe and Austin Music Awards chieftain documented the Texas state capital in print, onstage, for TV and film. Margaret made media, and media made Margaret – mutual beneficiaries.

As I fruitlessly tried to concentrate on Hurray for the Riff Raff activist Alynda Segarra, the Bronx-born Puerto Rican singer called to mind AMA go-to Alejandro Escovedo. What would he say about Margaret Moser’s importance to Austin music and beyond? Or Lucinda Williams, Roky Erickson, Jimmie Vaughan?

Suddenly, that chorus drowned out anything coming from the Mohawk P.A.

Forty-plus witnesses speaking to four decades of dedicated scholarship could’ve been Top 40s of civic leaders, business owners, barbacks, doorkeeps, SXSW volunteers. Save for the sole two recipients of the AMA’s Margaret Moser Award, all interviewed are musicians. Our celebrant dedicated her life to them and so many more, and in doing so, Margaret Moser, 63, helped stake the Austin music scene as surely as Clarence saves George Bailey.

  • 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”

    John Cale

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

    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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Margaret Moser, Margaret Moser Tribute, Raoul Hernandez, Jon Dee Graham, Alejandro Escovedo, Charlie Sexton, Lucinda Williams, Margaret Moser Award, Austin Sun, Austin Chronicle, Rumors, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Antone's, Sex Pistols

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