Hooray For Ham!

Marisa Demarco
2 min read
Mmm. Spikey haaaam.
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I love this city. I really do. I’ve rarely ever had the urge to move out of it.

Friends have wandered to far reaches of the earth seeking better jobs and better living. But I’ve stubbornly maintained my loyalty to this weird town, its food, its dirty streets, its nasty smells.*

I like the pencil/breast towers in the Downtown skyline, the lowriders blasting bass for your face, the too hot rock clubs, the long-standing racial tensions, the clannish shyness. It’s a little-big city, small-town thinking (falling bullets, ancient pickups, crumbling adobe) with a growing population (505, 949 as of the 2006 census and counting).

But for the first time in a long time, I’ve really been bitten by the moving bug. And there’s one reason: HAAM, the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.

My band and I squished ourselves and all our gear into a minivan and drove out to Austin for three shows with a kickass stoner rock act Full Stride** Everything was great, aside from the sweaty gear/musicians crunch in the van and the smell in the van. (Band in a Can.) That was nasty.

Come to find out that Austin has health insurance for its musicians. No shit. You bring in proof that you’re a musician–newspaper articles, fliers, liner notes–and you get hooked up with $12 doctor visits and free dental. Every so often, HAAM throws this huge benefit concert and all the bands play for free. The show raises most of the money for the program.

I probably won’t move for a good long while. I’ve got heaps going on here. But if I ever did, I could really see going to Austin. I was astounded that Austin respects its musicians so well, and recognizes them as a vital part of its cash flow. As Albuquerque gears up to makes itself a “world-class entertainment capital,” or whatever they’ve tagged it these days, it should consider this kind of thing.

*Have you ever noticed how bad Albuquerque smells? Like when you’re coming back from camping or something?

**Coming to Burt’s 11/9 to play with Black Maria and Dixie Witch.
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