Online and in the pages of our quarterly journal, we’ve talked a lot about how music and politics intersect. I think it’s safe to say we’re not onboard with the “shut up and sing” crowd. Sometimes musicians make a statement through their songs, and other times they speak their minds from the stage. In some cases, though, actions speak louder than words, as they say, and that may well be the case with drummer Felix Walworth. Walworth, the bandleader for Told Slant, very publicly cancelled a South by Southwest showcase after spotting a clause in the performer contract that said the festival may contact immigration officials if foreign performers play outside official SXSW venues. The move caught fire on Twitter, and people wondered just what the heck was going on. As with anything involving immigration, especially in these fraught days of “extreme vetting” and “build the wall,” it’s complicated. It’s hard to deny that SXSW has done a lot to give artists from outside America exposure, and it turns out that contract clause may be just a common bit of legalese that got misinterpreted. NPR has a terrific story explaining both sides. See what you think.
Ryan Adams on the making of his new album, Prisoner, and how “it felt good to be fragile and a little crushed” during its making. [Rolling Stone]
This year’s Merlefest attendees (including me, for the 16th year) are in for a real treat this April, which will mark the Wilkesboro, North Carolina, festival’s 30th year. The much-acclaimed Transatlantic Sessions, which join up roots musicians from the US, Scotland, and Ireland, are putting on a one-time performance on *this* side of the pond, and Merlefest is the place. With Jerry Douglas at the helm, you know it’s going to be a good time. [Wilkes Journal-Patriot]
That High Fidelity stereotype of people who frequent record stores (“Young men, always young men …”) isn’t holding true anymore, as more and more women buy and sell vinyl. [Mixmag]
Didja hear that one about Neil Young and the giant speakers on his house and barn? We have confirmation: It’s true. [Society of Rock]