I feel compelled to write this open letter to the editors of the Austin 360 weekly entertainment guide. This is the weekly arts feature section of the Austin-American Statesman and covers the "live music capital of the world". I am writing after being a regular reader and subscriber for about 5 years. Your article in the 8/13/09 issue was the latest example of what I would like to suggest to you is poor, lazy, and ill informed reporting. I challenge your reporting staff to go out into this "live music capital of the world" and find stories about music that matter, artists who are interesting people, artists that put care and craft into their work, struggles that inspire other vocations, art that serves humanity. Or how about the local music scene- how owners are cutting back on booking, guarantees are less, tipping has fallen, bands are asked to advertise for venues? Whats it like to be a working local band, a local musician?
A quick claim here, yes I am a local musician and as one I am writing to you.
Austin 360 has 52 opportunities a year to feature something/someone outstanding- you guys are working to do that. I'm going to go through your latest feature and explain how you fall short. Let me be clear: it is not just this article. Its the whole slant of your music arts coverage- from proudly following bands that puke out of windows prior to going on stage (Tuesday), to top lists of Texas musicians which leave out quality artists giving space to forgettable noise makers, to gleefully promoting as 'best bets' noise makers, drug fueled rappers, and punk bands. I've got nothing against those musicians, they probably work pretty hard and there are some who like that music. But I bet your readers are really interested in the next John Lennon, you know? Someone who is working real hard to make substance. Substance. Thats what I want in my music- expression, emotion, beauty, excitement, craft. I count on you to find and report on substance.
Now, like you say Pink Nasty is a nice guy. He hasn't played but one show for the eight months of this year, but your reporter chose to feature him in an article. During the interview he publicly urinates for the reporter, hmmmm lets see, I think I would hold it if I was fortunate enough to be interviewed. He is as you proclaim "an artist working to shake up the status quo" and he does this by making lyrics about feces, bodily fluids, bestiality and other forms of alternative sex, 'Faces of Death' type scenarios. Side note here: anyone can color outside the lines, that doesn't make it art, and it doesn't push the boundaries. Your reporter lets on that "if you don't pay attention to what he's saying ..(his music) is saleable" and "I can't imagine anybody rapping along to songs on his album." Why, oh, why are you featuring this guy? I mean, I don't know the band Trail of the Dead, but even they left this guy's album behind- it could be that bad! Furthermore you chose to feature an artist that has "only got one more album in him (and) 'these are the worst songs I've ever written'". Groan....
C'mon guys, search this city high and low, find us some real, lasting, substantive musicians to feature so the rest of us can be inspired. If you say something is "hip" one more time I'm gonna scream. Do not focus on the fleeting, subculture, alterno, coloring outside the lines, sophomoric simplicity. Find substance in this great city and its teeming masses of musical endeavor. Do not offend us by featuring the mediocre. Austin 360 music reviewers "pull your head out of your ass and find us some sunshine."
Unbelievably Great Music