Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Amusement Park Music Composers to Picket SXSW

Most years at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, the biggest crowds are those of wristband-clad fans trying to get into the hottest showcases at Emo's or the Austin Music Hall.

This year, though, they just might be outside the convention center, wearing signs saying things like "Riddler's Revenge Overture Rocks! Give Us A Panel!" and "I'd Like To See Anyone From Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Write a Medley of Today's Hottest Country Songs Without Going Crazy!"

That's because for the fifth consecutive year, conference organizers have refused to create a panel at the conference for the discussion of the writing and arrangement of music performed or played at amusement parks.

"We just want to get our due," said Hobson Fitchburg IV, who counts the background music of "Crackaxle Canyon" at various Six Flags parks among his credits, along with arranging the music performed by the marching brass ensemble at Valleyfair! in 1987. "We deserve to be recognized for our vital role in contemporary music and composition. While we're at it, some of the ensembles should really be given a showcase -- that'd be huge! Who wouldn't want to hear songs by The Fray, Daniel Powter, and Justin Timberlake performed by high-energy people with a sparkling pre-recorded background?"

Stephanie Hathaway, who says she arranged the "very special" version of the Halloween theme music played in the themed section of the same name at Holiday World, concurs. "We are just as much a part of the modern music community as anyone. If you don't think it's outrageous for us to be excluded, just ask yourself this question: Where would we be if the art community acted the same? You'd never see caricature artists or airbrush artists on display at the Met or Tate Modern or MoMA, would you? And wouldn't your world be just a little emptier?"

Both performers then had to end the interview to get back to perform for the 3:00 performance of the Hawaiian stage show at the Pittsburgh-area Conley Inn.

South by Southwest officials did not return repeated requests for comment.