Second of two stories on Austin Music critic Margaret Moser.
Margaret Moser certainly had a good run and she taught us all something about dignity. She stayed composed even when the cards she was dealt were impossible. I never heard her complain during her lengthy sayonara. She chose wisely the moment to check into hospice care so as not to burden her friends and loved ones. Her goodbye was said with grace.
I offer two notable episodes that, to me, characterize Margaret’s unique boldness and character.
At 22, Margaret came into our offices when the Austin Sun was in the ramshackle upstairs wooden warren of offices on 15th Street. Without ever having churned out a piece of journalism, Margaret made a convincing pitch. She wanted to get two backstage passes for-- Metallica? Iron Butterfly? -- somebody BIG playing at the Armadillo. She vowed she would get on the tour bus and go on the Texas road trip with the band. She promised the inside lowdown from the back of the bus from the groupie perspective. Sure enough about five days later she called in from Dallas. It took, shall we say, a great deal of editorial creativity to cobble together the piece that ran in the Sun.
The Austin Sun started the Austin Music Awards and Margaret was put in charge of collecting the nominations from the critics' panel. She ignored the Country radio stations. Townsend Miller, the Austin American-Statesman’s music writer, kept calling to complain his nominations had never been picked up. When quizzed, Margaret lied. The lie crumbled after a couple days but because the Sun was a haven for edgy souls with bravado the episode wasn’t turned into a confrontation. Instead, the differences were healed and the Awards went on to become a big success. They’ve grown in importance and impact since then. The Sun, later the Chronicle and the Austin music scene in general have all benefited greatly from the Austin Music Awards. And Margaret ran the show.
She grew up in San Antonio, when the world was quite a different place; staid, hierarchical and vanilla. On the weekends her dad would flaunt the era's conventions by dressing up in flamboyant drag, then going out on the town. Most children, in that time, would have been thrown into spasms of confusion and self-pity from such an unusual experience. But others, like Margaret, could turn such challenges on their head and use them as tools to become powerful, magnanimous people who celebrate the unconventional.
Margaret’s story is one of soul and passion … nothing trivial.
Jeffrey Nightbyrd Shero © 2017
Photo: JR Compton ©1976 http://www.jrcompton.com/photos/The_Birds/J/
Jeffrey Shero was the founding editor of the original Austin Sun.