November 2008 Archives

City Hall

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Today in Austin the Austin music community came out in mass to hear the findings of the Live Music Task Force.

Austin has called itself the Live Music Capital of the World since 1991 when they adopted the phrase and used it to take advantage of the glorious music scene that drew me here in '90. Although the city boomed in the '90s, filing to the brim with high tech industry and dot com carpetbaggers, the money that came with them changed the face of Austin, and the sharp rise of the cost of living left most of the music scene in the cold. The music continues, but live music venues and musicians found that they were being pushed to the fringes of the town they once called their own. The city grew, but at the expense of the cloture that drew the young hopefuls that hope to find a life filled with creativity and sound.

The Live Music Task Force hopes to reverse that trend so that the new generation gets to enjoy the music as well. I have heard many stories from couples, now parents, who met at shows I played in the '90s, and they all want to share with their kids the joy and freedom that they enjoyed. But much more is at stake here.

History, even that which predates audio recording technology, tells of music in every culture, and all religion has music at its core. when Austin was built, the second building that went up was a music hall tavern, so that the workers would have a place to celebrate the task at hand.

The reason is simple. Music builds community. Anything that brings people together and raises them up in ecstasy, whether religious or secular, is a spiritual experience. That connects people. And even more, it teaches them that they are made of the same stuff. That drum beat, that melody, that catchy line, when it works it works because we all feel it, we relate. All talk of brotherly love is useless without us feeling that we are one. And when the crowd sings together, at church, at the ball game, at closing time we are at our strongest.

Music, and all art, teaches empathy. Without time spent enjoying the poets work, whether it is in words, paint, architecture or food the world is a lonely place. A simple song can make the loneliest person feel understood.

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