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Clip: DeRogatis on Vote for Change tour

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  • Carl Zimring
    Rockers play for change August 5, 2004 BY JIM DEROGATIS Pop Music Critic With a fervor
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5 8:01 AM

      Rockers play for change

      August 5, 2004

      BY JIM DEROGATIS Pop Music Critic

      With a fervor that hasn't been witnessed since musicians in the late '60s
      united to protest President Richard M. Nixon and America's involvement in
      the Vietnam War, some of the biggest names in popular music are coming
      together for an unprecedented series of fund-raising concerts with the goal
      of unseating President Bush on Nov. 2.

      Superstars from several diverse genres in rock and country -- among them
      Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, R.E.M., Pearl Jam and the Dixie Chicks --
      are among the more than 20 bands taking part in the Vote for Change tour,
      announced Wednesday with a publicity blitz that started when Matthews
      appeared on NBC's "The Today Show" and ended with Springsteen talking to
      Ted Koppel on ABC's "Nightline."

      "There isn't going to be any illusion in the audience about why we're
      there," Matthews said. "This election is the most important one in our
      lifetime. It may be the most important in America's history."

      Added Springsteen in a statement to the Associated Press: "We're trying to
      put forward a group of progressive ideals and change the administration in
      the White House. That's the success or failure, very clear cut and very

      Over the course of a week, the tour will play approximately 34 shows,
      visiting 28 cities in nine of the 17 "swing" states considered to be key
      for victory in the presidential election. In some cases, Vote for Change
      will find as many as six different shows happening simultaneously in cities
      throughout the same state.

      The tour kicks off on Oct. 1 in Pennsylvania as Springsteen's E-Street
      Band, R.E.M., former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty and
      emo rockers Bright Eyes perform in Philadelphia.

      At the same time, alternative superstars Pearl Jam and modern-rock
      up-and-comers Death Cab for Cutie will play in Reading; the Dave Matthews
      Band, rappers Jurassic 5 and the alternative-country band My Morning Jacket
      in State College; country-pop giants the Dixie Chicks and veteran
      folk-rocker James Taylor in Pittsburgh; John Mellencamp and R&B giant Kenny
      "Babyface" Edmonds in Williamsport, and Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and
      modern bluesman Keb' Mo' in Wilkes-Barre.

      The other states that have been targeted as tour stops are North Carolina,
      Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. The tour will end
      in Florida, where the president's brother is the governor and the 2000
      election was decided in a close call that remains controversial.

      Vote for Change is being sponsored by the political action committee
      MoveOn.Org. Tickets go on sale on Aug. 21, and while prices have not yet
      been announced, organizers say the millions of dollars in expected revenues
      will benefit an organization called America Coming Together.

      On its Web site, America Coming Together describes itself as "the largest
      voter contact program in history" and proclaims that its goal is to "derail
      the right-wing Republican agenda by defeating George W. Bush."

      "These artists feel so strongly about this election that they are doing
      something unprecedented in creating this magnificent tour," ACT president
      Ellen Malcolm said in the press release issued by the group Wednesday.
      "They are sending an important message to voters in the battleground
      states: You can change the country if you go to the polls and vote."

      Out on a limb

      In a country that is sharply divided along partisan lines, artists who are
      participating in the tour could face a harsh reaction from some fans who
      are opposed to their political views.

      Last year, the Dixie Chicks faced protest at concerts in some states and a
      boycott by many country radio stations after bandleader Natalie Maines told
      an audience in London that she was ashamed that President Bush hails from
      her home state of Texas.

      Two weeks ago, Linda Ronstadt, who is not participating in the Vote for
      Change tour, was kicked out of the Aladdin Resort in Las Vegas after she
      made comments onstage praising Michael Moore's provocative anti-Bush film
      "Fahrenheit 9/11." According to news reports, the remarks set off what was
      described as "a miniriot" by Bush backers who threw drinks, tore down
      posters and stormed out of the show.

      Some pop-music fans in Chicago say they're sick of musicians making
      political statements, and that the stars should just shut up and perform.

      "I believe 100 percent in free speech; furthermore, I don't consider myself
      a Democrat or a Republican," Chicago paralegal Maria Tararo wrote in an
      e-mail she sent me after the Ronstadt incident in Las Vegas and anti-Bush
      comments at recent concerts here by Morrissey at the House of Blues and
      Patti Smith at Skyline Stage at Navy Pier.

      "I want to get what I'm paying for. I feel like concertgoers nowadays are
      getting ripped off big time: We pay good money to see acts perform their
      music and wind up getting shortchanged by these same performers who feel
      it's their jobs now to 'educate' us, like we're stupid or something."

      But the artists participating in the Vote for Change tour say they aren't
      concerned about a backlash.

      "A change is in order," Maines told the AP. "There's never been a political
      climate like this, which is so the polar opposite of me as a person and
      what I believe in."

      Added Springsteen: "It's a pretty clear-cut decision in November. We're
      chipping in our two cents. That's all we're trying to do."

      Illinois fest to push registration

      Counted by political analysts among the solidly "blue" or Democratic states
      in the presidential election, Illinois will not be the site of any of the
      Vote for Change concerts. But the local musical community is also
      mobilizing to encourage voters, most notably via the ambitious four-day
      Interchange Festival, which includes a series of concerts at four Chicago
      venues Aug. 18-21.

      Less overtly partisan -- the organizers' stated goal is "to contribute
      money and volunteers to ongoing voter-registration efforts," and their Web
      site does not target Bush -- the sympathies of most of the musicians rest
      nonetheless with Democratic challenger John Kerry.

      Among the Chicago artists performing during the Interchange Festival at the
      Hideout, Schubas, the Empty Bottle and Metro are art-rockers Tortoise,
      rappers Diverse and the Molemen, psychedelic-pop songwriter David Singer,
      orchestral pop/alternative country musician Andrew Bird, the avant-jazz
      combo the Vandermark 5 and garage-rockers the M's.

      'VOTE FOR CHANGE' >> regional tour schedule

      Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, R.E.M., John Fogerty, Bright Eyes
      Sat., Oct. 2, Cleveland
      Sun., Oct. 3, Ann Arbor, Mich.
      Tues., Oct. 5, St. Paul, Minn.

      Pearl Jam, Death Cab for Cutie
      Sat., Oct. 2, Toledo, Ohio
      Sun., Oct. 3, Grand Rapids, Mich.
      Tues., Oct. 5, St. Louis
      Wed., Oct. 6, Asheville, N.C.

      Dave Matthews Band, Ben Harper, Jurassic 5, My Morning Jacket
      Sat., Oct. 2, Dayton, Ohio
      Sun., Oct. 3, Detroit
      Tues., Oct. 5, Madison, Wis.
      Wed., Oct. 6, Ames, Iowa

      Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Keb' Mo'
      Sun., Oct. 3, Grand Rapids, Mich.
      Tues., Oct. 5, Kansas City, Mo.
      Wed., Oct. 6, Des Moines

      Dixie Chicks, James Taylor
      Sat., Oct. 2, Cleveland
      Sun., Oct. 3, Detroit
      Tues., Oct. 5, Iowa City, Iowa
      Wed., Oct. 6, St. Louis

      John Mellencamp, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds
      Sat., Oct. 2, Cincinnati
      Sun., Oct. 3, Kalamazoo, Mich.
      Tues., Oct. 5, Milwaukee

      Dates, performers subject to change

      Contributing: Associated Press, Billboard
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