Monday, March 23, 2009

... on the other hand

Todd Martens at the Los Angeles Times started his final take on SXSW this way:

As much as reporters sought to apply a theme to this year's South by Southwest, the musicians and industry reps in Austin, Texas, for the four-day music extravaganza just weren't making it easy. The economic realities of 2009 were a relatively obvious topic, but life for the many of the artists in Texas this week -- a record-setting 1,900 of them this year -- has never exactly been easy.

"During hard times, I didn't have much education or stuff like that to rely on," said the New York Dolls' Sylvain Sylvain, reminding attendees that artists are comfortable with recession-time living even in flush decades. "I wanted to take a job where I could still do my performances, or if I got drunk the night before, I wouldn't get fired."

Me, I want to follow up on yesterday's thoughts on Jazz Fest and SXSW and the relationship between the events and their towns. Yesterday my flight home was overbooked and the airline was looking for volunteers to stay until Tuesday - the soonest they could get the volunteers out - with a hotel paid for and a per diem. I considered it, thinking about friends from L.A. and New York that were still in town and what I could do if I stayed. What that reminded me was that SXSW is its own city, and Austin's simply the space it occupies. That might seem obvious, but graffiti on the bathroom wall in the Continental Club says, "Don't move to Austin," and I'm certain that many enjoy the town's vibe during SXSW and want to move there the same way people want to move to New Orleans after Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest. The difference is that the SXSW is as much shaped by the people visiting as the people who live there, and the glut of music will largely go away this week. In New Orleans, the big event may end but the same bands will play the next week as played during those events, and the vibe that surrounds them is entirely New Orleanian.