The Austin Music Blogger Awards: My Prerogative
The Austin Music Blogger Awards is this Thursday, and it’s arriving with a little controversy via This Post by music icon, Gerard Cosloy. Reflecting upon my options, I wasn’t sure what to do. I was even advised to leave it alone because he’s the guy that put out the Pavement records. But, I’m from Austin, and I’ve been part of this music scene far longer than Gerard has lived here, so I feel its best if I take a few moments of my day to explain my perspective on the events…and perhaps even respond to a bunch of Mr. Cosloy’s points.
First, I think it’s best to discuss the point of the Austin Music Blogger Awards. For me, I jumped at the chance to be part of this because it represented an idea of the community of Austin music lovers joining together to provide something for the fans of Austin music. I respect what all these people do, and I know that there aren’t many people working as hard to uncover the great music of our fair city. That being said, it is also an opportunity for us all to work together for the greater good. I wrote about the need for the Austin music community to unite last year, but Gerard didn’t read it because apparently he doesn’t value the voice of the people that venture out five times a week to catch local acts play (which is sad because our current feature interview is with Sweet Talk, one of his bands). Personally, I know that in being the first year things are not going to be perfect; there are going to be errors and people left out. For that, I’m sorry, but improvements can always be made; it’s best to be constructive rather than belittle the cause.
I see this event as the Golden Globes to the Austin Music Awards, who would obviously be the Oscars. We wanted something a little bit on the smaller scale, more independent, something that represented the underbelly of what’s going on musically in Austin. Of course, that means inevitable downside that people and venues were going to be left out, feelings could get hurt, etc, but maybe that encourages us all to be better, therefore improving an already robust music scene. And in the end, it’s taught me how much I still have to listen to, in regards to Austin music.
Names were tossed around in the initial ballots that I hadn’t listened to, for whatever reason, and now I have. I’ve been opened to new acts and new people, that I hadn’t before; I’ve grown. Isn’t that what we should all strive for, constantly aiming to improve ourselves? It’s for this reason that I tried to involve Gerard, and other label representatives in the voting process. The labels, be it 12XU or Modern Outsider or Punctum, all work hard to give a voice to Austin musicians, and thus have a right, and almost an obligation to be involved in the voting process. Should one decline, that’s respected; that’s a personal choice. But, to criticize the event after you declined to be involved seems, frankly, childish and counterproductive.
While I respect the work of Mr. Cosloy, I find his comments damaging to the greater Austin community, which he clearly seems indifferent towards. Yes, Beerland is a great venue. I hit up shows there at least twice a month, and the staff/crowd has always been accommodating. Now, is it the best venue in town? I’m not so sure. The sound isn’t always on point, and it seems, that supported by Mr. Cosloy, the venue has an entitlement towards being its own special club. It also has the tendency to only feature one genre of music, and that in and of itself is great, but not something that ultimately warrants a Best Venue nod.
Honestly, I can forgive the Beerland comment, as I do value the venue and its place in the Austin scene. What I can’t forgive are his condescending comments towards the other artists involved, like Jess Williamson and American Sharks. Some would think that because Gerard has put out Pavement, and other acts that are well-regarded, that he has the right to his voice, and so he does, but to do it in a demeaning manner indicates a man dying to save his image; it’s about him, it’s not about Austin and the music scene. And therein lies his faults; he’s apparently not concerned with the whole music scene, just those acts and venues he’s interested in. How does that benefit Austin? How does that show the diversity of what’s musically going on in this town? It doesn’t. If anything, it’s an elitist myopic attitude that sets Austin back, trying to make it some secret club that only those in the know are able to participate in because the rest of us have “no fucking idea what’s going on.” Sorry guys, but that’s bullshit, and to let that attitude go unchecked only empowers this man to continue promoting that attitude throughout the city.
I grew up in this city, watching country bands open for punk bands and DJs open for metal bands. It’s what I loved about the city growing up, and what I love about it now. The diversity is great for all of us, and that’s what the Austin Music Blogger Awards are trying to represent … a look at the greater spectrum of the underground of Austin music. If we take that away and only choose to focus on one genre, everyone loses. Austin’s not a punk rock town, or a hip-hop town, or anything in particular; it’s an amalgam of styles and people; it’s a fucking city, and one that I love. We should be proud of the fact that there’s so many different sounds you many not realize are coming out of this city. That’s how art works. People create, others react, thus creating new art. None of us have the right to look down upon other acts simply because we don’t like what they’re doing. Yes, have your opinion, but to go about it in a manner that disregards the hard work of others in this city is unacceptable, and personally, makes me wish people with this attitude would just leave.
I know this seems long-winded, and possibly a bit scrambled, but my main point is to point out that despite its faults, which I think we’d all acknowledge, the Austin Music Blogger Awards is a chance for the bloggers and the bands to give something back to the community that supports them. Your band or venue didn’t make the cut? I’m sorry, but take it as a challenge. Take it as an opportunity to work harder. Don’t sit behind your computer and complain because that makes you a coward, or even a bully. You’re no better than anyone in this town. If we want our city to be a great one, then we have to work together, be it in the arts, food, politics or whatever. When we start to create a divisive community, we all lose, the artists in this town especially.
So come out on Thursday to Spiderhouse Ballroom (who’ve had some sold out shows) see what all the hubbub is about. It’s an event that will represent the whole of Austin music as seen by the people who cover it as best as they can. Maybe next year we’ll even have a special category for the Beerland Award or the Music Curmudgeon Award. Hope Mr. Cosloy will vote for those.