West Texas Television

May 1, 2007

Guest blogging by Tom Michael

It’s been too long since I’ve been to NC, but quite a few bands I like hail from the state (more on that later). I once saw Vic Chesnutt play from his wheelchair at Cat’s Cradle, where this Sunday the stage is set for The Gourds, who I caught at Austin City Limits. The Gourds are the prototypical Austin band, and Gin and Juice, their bluegrass cover of a rap hit, is a local anthem in the Texas capital. Like the clerk in Woodstock NY who is a novelist or the waiter in Los Angeles CA who is a screenwriter, in Austin TX everyone seems to be a musician.

It’s drifted over into my part of the state, where around the “West Texas television” (i.e., campfire), I remain, according to my wife, “the only guy in town” who doesn’t play guitar. When David Byrne visited (& borrowed my bike!), he said much of the same:

It took me a bit to get used to this homey approach to music and performance. New Yorkers are sadly more “professional” in their attitude towards their art. … When I first encountered and participated in these campfire sings I realized the meaning and resonance of these things goes deeper — to some extent this is a way of resisting the century-old trend of produced and commodified entertainment and culture.

Anton Zuiker

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