Jackson Browne speaks out against energy firm with Austin music ties

From left to right, Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, Jackson Browne and Jimmy LaFave at the 2011 Cherokee Creek Music Festival Photo by Kye R. Lee / The Dallas Morning News

From left to right, Kelcy Warren, Jackson Browne and Jimmy LaFave at the 2011 Cherokee Creek Music Festival in Central Texas. Photo by Kye R. Lee / The Dallas Morning News

Singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, whose songs were the subject of a tribute album released by Austin label Music Road Records in 2014, has issued a statement criticizing Music Road owner Kelcy Warren for the recent actions of his Dallas-based company Energy Transfer Partners.

The statement, posted Wednesday morning on Browne’s official website after first appearing Tuesday evening on Indian Country Today, came in the wake of this weekend’s controversy in North Dakota over a Native American tribe protesting ETP’s construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. A spokesman for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe said that private security guards pepper-sprayed more than 30 protesters.

“I met Kelcy Warren on one occasion, when I played at the Cherokee Creek Music Festival, held at his ranch,” Browne’s statement began, referencing his 2011 appearance at the annual Hill Country event benefiting children’s charities.

“Later his company, Music Road Records, produced an album of my songs. Though I was honored by the ‘tribute’ and think highly of the versions, which were done by some of my favorite singers and songwriters, I had nothing to do with producing the recordings or deciding who would be on it.

“I do not support the Dakota Access Pipeline. I will be donating all of the money I have received from this album to date, and any money received in the future, to the tribes who are opposing the pipeline.”

Browne went on to say that had he been aware of Warren’s ETP activities at the time, he might have “dissuaded the artists from appearing on this record.” The album included contributions from major names including Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt and Don Henley, as well as Austin acts including Bob Schneider, Shawn Colvin and Eliza Gilkyson.

Browne’s statement made no reference to the Trans-Pecos Pipeline, a natural gas conduit that ETP is building through the Big Bend region of West Texas. That project has generated considerable controversy in West Texas towns such as Alpine and Marfa, as we reported in June.

Read more: Trans-Pecos pipeline mogul’s plans divide Austin-area musicians

Longtime Austin musician Jimmy LaFave, a partner in Music Road, has defended Warren’s actions. Others, including singer-songwriter Patty Griffin and guitarist Scrappy Jud Newcomb, have spoken out against the Trans-Pecos Pipeline and performed at events to raise funds and awareness for West Texas groups fighting its installation.

In a public thread on Facebook on Monday, Charlie Pierce, leader of the local band Choctaw Wildfire, stated his intentions to organize a protest of LaFave’s Sept. 15 performance at Shady Grove. LaFave’s September itinerary also includes appearances at Nashville’s AmericanaFest as well as the Sept. 29 All ATX concert at ACL Live benefiting the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.

Read more: Jimmy LaFave, other artists address pipeline controversies



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