Bad Livers inducted into Austin Music Hall of Fame

Yeah, I was surprised as the next guy. See what happens when you walk away for 8 years? I put on a clean shirt and headed down to the Austin Music Hall to pick up the honor, which is chosen by the readers of the Austin Chronicle. I'm a well documented blow hard who talks way too much on stage, so I asked Danny to craft some thank you notes which I read at the awards ceremony. Here they are:

"I would like to thank the Austin music fans and musicians that saw fit to honor the Bad Livers in this way. I just wanted to say that the band worked so very, very hard.

It would be difficult for someone not directly involved to realize the magnitude of this statement. We really believed we were changing things for the better. We were trying to infect the world with our passionate love of all things music, and our desire to make something "happen." We put in untold thousands of hours, wore out more than one van, and even endured several near death experiences.

It makes me feel proud that you guys are recognizing the efforts of the Bad Livers. I think I can speak for the band and say we always felt like we were doing something really great. Thank you for letting us know that you felt that way as well. My sincere hope is that others will come up with their own idea of music, ignore alien orders and develop the concept as far as possible. "

- Danny Barnes, 3/12/08

I do indeed agree with all that. I mean, have you ever found yourself on stage in some hopelessly crappy dive, say in Universal City Texas (thanks again Nancy Fly Agency,) grinding out a $30 a man gig in front of an increasingly hostile audience, thinking to yourself "what the hell am I doing here? Is this are there is?" Folks, we literally risked our lives daily out on the highways of these United States just trying to get from Lawrence KS to Iowa City IA in time for a sound check, (which is silly really as sound checks never help but you have to play ball and go through these silly rituals in the music biz .) And hardly anyone shows up and you break a $125 bass string, and then beg the sound man for a place to crash.

You have to really, really believe in the validity of what you are doing to accept these, and lo so many more inequities to present original musical thoughts out into the world. We toured well nearly 500 dates before we released our first CD for instance, entirely counter to accepted wisdom. We passed on crappy record deal offers from the usual suspect folk labels, and went with a wonderful punk rock label who was as surprised as us that we asked to be on their roster. Over the years we employed graphic designers and t-shirt makers, booking agents and publicists, all of whom we accepted as part of our creative team.

We didn't do it for the chicks (we were married or much like it and always loyal,) we didn't do it for the dope and beer (we were stone sober, Danny was a youth minister at his church for a time) and we sure didn't do it for the fame, which really never shone on us, even after we scored every good break an artist could ever hope for. We were passed over time and time again by big time music biz managers who took meetings with us and passed, considering us "un-manageable." We wore out 4 booking agents, 3 vans and a fiddler. And starngest we're still around to talk about it.

Year later I am proud to state that when a decision needed to be made, the answer was the one that best served our music and not "career" in the business. We committed ourselves to our music alone. It was, and seems to still be, a revolutionary concept.

For my part, I was always sure that what Dan and I were doing was important. That even if we weren't catching the ear (or the pocketbooks) of the people today, someday, maybe long after I'm dead, the body of work we created would be fully appreciated. Seems as though we had a positive influence out in the world, if only evidenced by the number of amazing young traditional musicians of every stripe which cite us as an inspiration.

But with this little gift of public validation, I am reminded that yes indeed, it is possible that my misspent youth out on the road may actually have amounted to something. I'm also blessed to be around to kvell, even just a little bit.

Oh, and what I forgot to say at the Awards show is that we have a couple of dates on the books for this year. We've been invited to perform at the Pickathon up in Oregon in August and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in SF in October. If schedule and interest allow, there might be a few more. Who knows?

I never imagined I'd be in a Hall of Fame anywhere either.......