EASY ED’S BROADSIDE: Trouble Down in Texas
Image via Twitter (@ClaytonGardner)
You may have caught the story on cable news or perhaps social media, but last Friday a singer-songwriter named Clayton Gardner was livestreaming an outdoor acoustic show in front of a small, socially distanced audience in Las Colinas, Texas. He was about 20 feet from the audience and people were shouting out requests. One woman, who chose not to wear a mask, took to the stage, came up to Gardner, and literally got into his face. As he pulled back and tried to get away, she grabbed a bandana he had around his neck, pulled him close to her, and coughed. There’s video, of course, and it’s out there to see but I don’t feel the need to post it here.
If you’ve not heard Gardner’s name before, neither had I. His internet footprint is rather small, and from what I can tell his discography includes two albums self-released in 2012 and 2015. He’s got over 15,000 followers on Facebook, and since March he’s joined the thousands of other working musicians who are streaming for tips. But the majority of his posts are less about music and more about being a dad to his 3-year-old daughter. I found this clip on YouTube, and despite it being posted 2017, it had less than 150 views when I last checked. Beautiful song, really nice vocal.
In a story published by Consequence of Sound, Gardner issued this statement about the incident:
“I’m outraged by her behavior and the behavior of many others in our world today. I would much rather be at home but unfortunately I have to play some gigs to pay my bills, just like the rest of you. I can’t even do that safely and that’s disgraceful. I choose to take this virus seriously to protect myself and the ones I love. That is my right, and I don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks about it.”
That last sentence refers to the fact that Gardner chooses to wear a mask for protection, and many people came out calling him a crazy-ass liberal and staging the incident for publicity.
On his Facebook page he added some detail:
“I can wear a mask if I want to. I wear one because I care about you and the people you love. I can take the virus serious if I so choose to do so. I should be able to come home to my daughter safely after playing for you guys. I am just trying to make an honest living like the rest of you. Music heals. Just sit back and listen to it. Just be nice to people. Respect their views and their opinions even if they don’t align with yours. It is really that simple.”
On the other side, many of his fans decided to shame the woman by suggesting she was drunk, ill, or a wacky right-winger. They tracked her down and posted her name, yet Gardner was having none of it. She reached out to him and apologized, and he has accepted it and forgiven her. He figures that the video has embarrassed her enough, and that it’s time to chill.
To the folks thinking that he’s enjoying this attention or somehow fabricated it, this is what he wants you to know:
“I could care less about 10 seconds of fame. I have declined every newspaper interview and TV appearance. I kind of liked my life just the way it was, playing music I love, and being a daddy. So I will go back to that as soon as I can. There is to be no more blame or hate on my page. We can all learn something from this and be kind to one another.”
Texas, along with a number of states in the Sun Belt, have been breaking records day after day for new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Gov. Greg Abbott long argued against making people wear masks and has pushed to keep the state open for business, preferring that it be a decision left to business owners. But two days before the Fourth of July he reversed his opinion and ordered all Texans to wear face coverings in businesses, public buildings, and outdoor public spaces as the outbreak has surged.
Being kind to one another? I think Gardner is onto something.
Many of my past columns, articles, and essays can be accessed here at my own site, therealeasyed.com. I also aggregate news and videos on both Flipboard and Facebook as The Real Easy Ed: Americana and Roots Music Daily. My Twitter handle is @therealeasyed and my email address is email@example.com.