Jake Austen

Jake Austen is an independent music writer and the editor of Roctober magazine. He is the author of TV-a-Go-Go: Rock on TV from American Bandstand to American Idol, the editor of Flying Saucers Rock n Roll (Duke, 2011), and a founder and puppeteer of the cult-favorite cable access dance show Chic-a-Go-Go.



"Icons of Obstinacy: The Urban Enablement of Rock 'n' Roll Delusionals"

With its rumbling music industry mechanisms and bohemian enclaves, the big city is a perfect home base for successful commercial pop artists as well as their less-chart conscious cousins in the underground. But the runoff from these scenes provides sustenance for another genus of musicians, artists who for a number of reasons, ranging from personal eccentricities to bad luck, never make it in any scene, yet never quit. These icons of obstinacy can toil for elusive glory for decades by capitalizing on such urban amenities as the infinite opening act slots spawned by bustling nightlife, low grade session work, the jingle industry, and other hustles unknown in Smalltown, USA. These are the rockers who never give up, even when they probably should.

My presentation tells the tales of two such acts, the Fast and the Good Rats, both from New York. The stories will be complimented by a video montage of rare footage demonstrating the urban opportunities that fueled their fantasies and kept them from starving. These include playing background bands in porno films and Z-grade movies, bizarre cable access appearances, Mexican-language talk show guest spots, and biker bar gig home movies. These amazing images not only showcase the absurdity of artists whose continued existence was dependent on a failure to grasp reality, but also the fascinating art created when an accommodating Metropolis allows for reality to be ignored.


My Speakers Sessions

Sunday, March 25

11:15am EDT