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Rodrigo y Gabriela confusion causes SXSW cancellation
Rodrigo Y Gabriela have been forced to cancel their SXSW festival showcase in Texas and other US dates because of visa difficulties.
The Hot Press Newsdesk, 16 Mar 2007
According to one of the duo’s American record company men, Chris Tetzeli, US immigration alarm bells went off because Rodrigo Sanchez has the same name as a wanted felon.
“Rodrigo had nothing on his file,” Tetzeli tells Billboard magazine. “He’s absolutely clean. It’s just this name confusion. There was a lot of anticipation going into these dates. The timing is pretty tough.”
This is confirmed by the statement on the Dublin-based duo’s website which reads:“Sanchez, who applied at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City to renew his papers, was told the request was on hold because officials had to verify that he wasn't the person with a similar name who is on a wanted list. Details on the identity of the wanted man weren't available.”
Visas for overseas acts wanting to work in the States has been a hot topic of conversation in Irish music circles, with one manager describing the situation to Hot Press this week as “a nightmare”.
He continues: “The system’s changed in that artists applying to tour or record in the States now have to go through Homeland Security who are very aggressive and accountable to nobody. Their first question was, ‘Why do you need to be here instead of your own country?’ I very politely said, ‘We can’t do a 10-date American tour of Ireland’ and their response was, ‘Insufficient reason’. I had to get letters from all the individual promoters who’ve booked us plus testimonials from half-a-dozen US music industry people before they decided to give us visas, and then they took two months to come through.”
It’s not just professional musicians who are coming under increased scrutiny.
“I’ve heard of individuals being carted off to airport interrogation rooms because they’ve got a fiddle or acoustic guitar with them,” our source continues. “I just wonder whether American musicians coming to Ireland are getting the same hassle?”
The answer, I think we can assume, is “no”.