But he’s got talent: Withered Hand overcomes visa problems to reach SF

Pub date March 22, 2011
WriterJen Verzosa

On Sunday, March 20, Dan Willson, mastermind behind the Scottish outfit Withered Hand, took the stage with his acoustic guitar at SF’s Hemlock Tavern. Only weeks prior, however, the show was teetering on the precipice of being canceled. Despite being submitted months in advance with an expedite fee, Willson’s visa application was flagged a week before his flight by an U.S. Immigration official that demanded more proof of Willson’s “extraordinary talent,” his achievement of “significant recognition,” and performances at “events that have a distinguished reputation.”

“We ended up pulling together letters from various sources – managers, folks at our distributor, other artists – to prove [Willson] was of ‘extraordinary ability’,”  says Maren Wenzel, director of marketing and publicity at Willson’s home record label, Absolutely Kosher Records. Like fellow Scots Belle and Sebastian and Snow Patrol, Withered Hand was funded by the Scottish Arts Council while making its debut album, the just-released Good News.

Fortunately, nearly everything worked out. “Through my amazing visa agency Tamizdat and the graciousness of Creative Scotland, I received a great deal of support and advice, and with their assistance and that of U.S. officials, we managed to get everything in place to be able to secure my visa,” explains Willson. “Whilst there was a lot of stress and delays, we only had to cancel one show, and I was able to get my original flight.”

Withered Hand on They Shoot Music: