A little known folk musician from Edinburgh has found himself in the middle of an extraordinary week-long diplomatic tussle between the Scottish Government and the Obama administration in America.
Musician Dan Willson aka Withered Hand was denied a visa in time to attend the influential South by Southwest music festival (SXSW) in Texas because US authorities deemed he simply was not good enough.
But after a week-long campaign by the SNP government – backed by Radio 1 DJs, BBC6 Music, the organisers of T in the Park, and Creative Scotland – his visa application was approved on Friday. He flew out of Edinburgh yesterday morning hoping to pick up his visa in New York…
Withered Hand is one of 17 Scottish bands invited to play at SXSW. The festival is an important showcase for acts and is credited with launching Franz Ferdinand and Snow Patrol to worldwide success.
Willson’s application had been delayed because he had failed to prove the “extraordinary musical ability” needed to obtain a performance visa. The official rationale was that he did not charge enough for his gigs.
“They said it wasn’t commensurate with extraordinary ability,” said Willson. “It’s really annoying. What I do is fairly niche. I’m not a pop star. So its weird being judged against someone’s interpretation for what constitutes extraordinary ability or commercial success.”
Despite being unsigned in the UK, Willson has just signed a US record deal with San Francisco label Absolutely Kosher.
Everyone’s a goddamn critic. Especially no-talent political hacks.