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Rock for Regime Change
T here is a political force that is pushing for regime change at home by registering thousands of voters, distributing literature, creating television and newspaper ads, and filling halls and auditoriums. It’s not the Democratic Party. It’s good old Rock and Roll.
Bob Weir, guitarist and singer with The Dead, puts it: “Democracy is much like a muscle. If you use it, it gets stronger. If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
From Hip Hop to Punk Rock, musicians and bands are encouraging fans to tune into the political process and channel their anger and frustration into direct action at the ballot boxes in November’s presidential election.
“One good thing this Bush administration has done is coalesced young people, out of shear anger, into getting rid of the people running Washington—basically, the energy industry and their special interests,” offers Al Jourgensen, singer with the platinum-selling band Ministry . “I’m disillusioned not only with Bush stealing the last election, but because his policy never seems to include the demographic of young people even though they have the most to gain or lose because they have the longest to live.”
Even bands and musicians who have traditionally avoided a political persona are stepping up to sing out for regime change at home in November.
“From the stage, I am encouraging people to register to vote, which is something we’ve never done before,” reveals Bob Weir. “But this time the stakes are a lot higher than they’ve ever been. Big business is in the act of buying our government and once that is done, they won’t give it back. And the deal is very close to complete now.”
Rickie Lee Jones surprised some fans and critics with her latest album, The Evening of My Best Day. It offers lyrical critiques of the Bush regime with songs about the Florida election scandal.
“As a mother, as a human being living in America, there was no way I could not say something,” explains Jones. She has even developed a website called Furniture for the People, which features political essays and analysis devoted to voting out Bush in the next election.
“George W. Bush does tend to do whatever he wants to do regardless of what the people indicate that they want. From drilling for oil to the cutting back of funds for Medicare,” reflects Jones. “And when his first order of business was to assign who would get the contracts to rebuild (Iraq), he didn’t even try to disguise that this was to create business for certain people.”
Musicians nationwide are appealing to U.S. youth to take part in the voting process and step away from political apathy, the “I’m too cool to vote” attitude.
“Voting is the new not voting,” says Damian Kulash, singer and guitarist with the Chicago-based band OK GO. “The disaffected non-involvement that so many of us have been a part of needs to stop. It has stopped.” Kulash has written a five page guide for other musicians called How Your Band Can Fire Bush. “A lot of bands don’t know how easy and important it is to be involved,” remarks Kulash.
Music For America is an organization made up of musicians, tour coordinators, and band managers that is distributing fact cards at concerts that reminds fans that of 27 million eligible voters under age 25 in the 2000 election, only 10 million voted; and in 6 different swing states, the election was decided by less then 10,000 votes. In Florida, the margin of victory was 537 votes.
Jay Bentley, bassist with seminal punk band Bad Religion, points out, “If you’re 18 to 24, you’ve probably been ignored by politicians who don’t think of you as a political force.” Guitarist Brian Baker adds, “We want to make it punk to vote. Given the seriousness of this election in November, I think that people are going to participate.”
More then a few bands, from Dave Matthews to Bad Religion, are touring swing states to influence the coming election. A variety of new album releases are also aimed at removing the Bush administration from office.
For America and Move- On have released a benefit CD entitled
Future Soundtrack of America
that includes songs by David Byrne,
REM, OK GO, Tom Waits, and Death Cab For Cutie. Nick Harmer, bassist
with Death Cab for Cutie, encourages fans to search for answers
for themselves: “Don’t listen to me, listen to the BBC.”
Rock Against Bush , a compilation CD produced by Punk Voter and Fat Wreck Chords , sold 250,000 copies in three months. Rock Against Bush 2 was scheduled for release in August and will feature, among other bands, Blink 182, Foo Fighters, Green Day and No Doubt. The first Rock Against Bush included a DVD of Uncovered , a documentary film about the U.S. war in Iraq. The national tour was joined by outspoken Bush critic and former director of the UN Weapons Inspection Team in Iraq, Scott Ritter. The new Rock Against Bush will include a DVD titled Unprecendented , focusing on the 2000 Florida election scandal.
Punk Voter was founded in 2001 by Fat Mike (Mike Burkett), bassist and vocalist with NO FX. “I was upset about the 2000 Presidential election. I thought that Florida was rigged,” says Mike. “I figured I had to use my connections and celebrity to get other bands and kids involved in the upcoming election. I’ve got a couple hundred bands and a couple hundred thousand kids who are pissed off and want this guy out of office.” These days, Punk Voter and Music For America are registering between 150 and 300 fans at a time on this summer’s Warped Tour featuring bands like NO FX, Pennywise, and Anti-Flag.
According to Fat Mike, the most important issues facing youth today are the war in Iraq and the threat to the right to have a safe and legal abortion. He predicts, “Abortion will probably be made illegal if George Bush wins. And we don’t have enough troops in the Middle East and they are going to have to reinstate the draft.”
Print ads being produced by Punk Voter of side-by-side comparisons of Bush and Kerry on the issues will be published in weekly newspapers in swing states and in Rolling Stone magazine. Fat Mike has also created BARF PAC; Bush Administration Retirement Fund Political Action Committee.
Head Count is an organization focused on registering fans of improvisational and jam bands. It has already registered close to 20,000 voters, according to co-chair Andy Bernstein. Between now and the election, Head Count volunteers will be touring with The Allman Brothers, Bela Fleck and The FleckTones, Santana, Michael Franti and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
At the Hip Hop Summit in August 2003, over 11,000 voters were registered in Philadelphia. Organizers are hoping to register even more young people throughout the summer in Boston, Kansas City, St. Louis, and during the March on New York for Freedom, Justice and Equality on August 30.
At the National Hip Hop Political Conference in June 2004, artists like dead prez, Bustah Rhymes, and Kurtis Blow came together to develop a national strategy to unseat President Bush by transforming cultural power into political power.
The Imagine Festival will serve as an alternative event to the Republican National Convention in New York, with hundreds of political, cultural, and arts events being planned throughout the city with daily themes like prosperity, unity, and democracy. Moby, DJ Spooky, and others will play at the Apollo Theater concert that commences the festival on August 28. The Imagine Festival has been organized jointly by Music For America, MoveOn, Involver Alliance, The Knitting Factory, and others.
Ministry vocalist Al Jourgensen admits that his strategy for encouraging fans to vote is a bit devious, “Between sound check and show, I will trade my autograph for their autograph on a voter registration card.”
Bob Weir says that after the election, The Dead may offer discounted or free admission to concerts for fans that show ballot stubs. As November approaches, musicians and fans are gearing up to make a historical and positive impact at the ballot boxes by voting for regime change at home.
Weir reminds us of the power of each person: “If every deadhead in the state of Florida had voted in the last election, it would be a very different world today.”
John Malkin is a musician and journalist who hosts a weekly radio program on Free Radio Santa Cruz. A book of his interviews with musicians will be published in Spring 2005 by Parallax Press.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.