Band's Woes from Border Whoa

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You may have recently heard from Saskatchewan's Ultimate Power Duo, or the Sask local of the AFM, about the band being turned away at the American border when attempting to travel down for SXSW. According to the band:
"US Homeland Security denied Ultimate Power Duo access to the United States. It is a frustrating story at the very least. Many hours at the border. We are pretty disappointed, SXSW is amazing! But, we will be back next year.......maybe.....yes!"

The band states that although they didn't have a working visa for the US, they followed the AFM's advice and brought with them to the border proof that they were invited to play the conference, that they weren't being paid, and a letter from the AFM backing them up. They still got turned back.

For the musicians, the complicated and pricing process of gaining entry to the US market has long been a source of frustration - for some, to the point that they just won't bother. The AFM continues to press the US congress to lighten the restrictions, even John Kerry is reported to have taken up the case, but they are fighting again post-9-11 increases in security and protectionism that are contrary to the notion of increased access or flexibility.

At the same time, hundreds of Canadian artists work in the US every year on these visas without problems. The bottom line is that with or without a visa, the border guards have the right to turn you away. The Ultimate Power Duo actually discovered this a year earlier when they attempted to cross the border for an "unpaid" gig and were turned back. In fact, it was this incident that put a red flag on their file and had them turned away on this recent trip. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with SXSW or with their preparations for this trip.

The advice here, if anybody is looking for any, is to take the border seriously. Homeland Security may be the easy butt of jokes on John Stewart and "American Dad", but if you get turned back because you are trying to slip down for a quick club show, it could ruin any plans of doing any real touring in the US in the future. And let's face it, Americans love going to see music, they love buying music, and you're hard pressed to make a living on the road without taking some US greenbacks out of some US music fan's pockets.

If you are looking for info on the P2 visa, check out the upcoming MARIAtalk Newsletter, and the recent SOCAN Words and Music magazine.


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