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Political process depends on you


By Gerald M. Gay and Cathalena E. Burch
ggay@azstarnet.com, cburch@azstarnet.com

Sheryl Crow was among the early cheerleaders for Rock the Vote, a nearly 20-year-old nonpartisan effort that encourages young people to register to vote and become more politically active. So it was not surprising when she encouraged the 2,700 fans at her recent concert here to take a few minutes and register at a booth set up in the venue. Judging from her comments, she was hoping that most of those who took the time would sign on as Democrats. Hope is alive, she said, a reference to Democrat Barack Obama's campaign mantra.
"Don't give up on hope," she said. "Hope's not hokey."
Musicians of all political persuasions are using their talents and celebrity to encourage others to vote this election season.
The practice is nothing new. During the build-up to the 2004 election, several major artists, including Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Crosby Stills and Nash, Jack Johnson, NOFX and Authority Zero came through Arizona on the "Vote for Change" and "Punk Voter" tours.
David Slutes, entertainment director for Hotel Congress, saw a number of politically themed tours come through in 2004, and his club even hosted a few. Linda Ronstadt headlined the venue's Virgin Voters Ball on Election Day.
Slutes has always seen music as an effective way to draw people in, especially younger people, to look at the issues. But the jury is still out on whether the tactic actually generates votes, he said.
"What I found last time is that many of these people just didn't vote," he added. Congress will have voter-registration booths set up at most of its shows right up until the registration cut-off date on Oct. 6.
"They came to the events, did a lot of 'rah rah' and just didn't vote. It was interesting and great to motivate and get the message out. But to actually have them make it into the voting booths this time — the proof will be in the pudding."
While the number of major artist tours geared toward voting has been toned down this election cycle, musicians of all genres have stepped up to endorse their chosen candidates.
Earlier this year, producer will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas showed his support for Obama by gathering John Legend, Common, Esthero, Ed Kowalczyk of Live, Herbie Hancock and a slew of other musicians, actors and sports figures for a musical recitation of Obama's "Yes, we can" speech. The resulting video was posted online in February and has since been viewed more than 9.5 million times on YouTube.
On the other end of the political spectrum, John Rich, one-half of the country duo Big & Rich, is firmly in McCain's camp: He wrote the campaign's theme song, "Raisin' McCain," which played throughout the convention last month.
Rich's partner, Big Kenny Alphin, supports Obama: Federal Election Commission filings show he kicked in $2,300 — the maximum allowable for an individual — to Obama's primary campaign.
Country musicians and fans are often assumed to be Republicans, said Buzz Jackson, program director for country radio station KIIM (99.5-FM). But he figures country fans and musicians are actually split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.
Anntoinette Brown, 43, is a country fan who is leaning toward Obama.
"I feel like he can make a difference," she said Saturday at KIIM's Country Music Festival. "I have two 15-year-olds and they just started high school. I want them to have all the benefits they can to prepare for the job market."
Festival-goer Brenda Maynard, 50, is going with McCain.
"I come from a military background and he's from a military background, to say the least. He'll fight for our country," she said. "And I like the fact he has a female running mate."
None of the artists on Saturday's lineup talked politics, but at least one local candidate sought the support of fans. A glossy flier from Republican Tim Bee, a candidate for Congress, was placed on almost every vehicle in the parking lot.
Reggaeton superstar Daddy Yankee came out in favor of McCain, an endorsement that caused bad blood with some in the hip-hop community. Rapper Fat Joe called the "Gasolina" singer a sell-out.
"I don't care who I piss off," Yankee told the New York Post. "This is about my ideals, not about making friends. Senator McCain is the kind of man whose promises you can actually believe in."
McCain introduced Daddy Yankee last month at a campaign stop at Central High School in Phoenix. McCain's wife, Cindy, is a graduate of Central.
Tucson's music community has leaned to the left with several recent performances.
On Aug. 17, an eclectic mix of local musicians, including hip-hop artist James Ciphurphace, the rock band American Android and longtime reggae outfit Neon Prophet gathered at Club Congress to perform Barack 'n' Roll, an event organized by Tucson's Obama Street Team.
Just last Saturday, Calexico headlined a concert featuring Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World to raise money for the re-election campaign of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Pablo Peregrina, a bilingual folk guitarist, performed at Barack 'n' Roll. He and musical partner Sally Withers moved swiftly through songs that included Peregrina's own rendition of the Chicano movement anthem "Sí Se Puede" ("Yes We Can").
Peregrina hoped that his music would help steer Latinos to the polls on Nov. 4.
"Obama, to me, reminds me of Bobby Kennedy," he said. "There is something about this man in the way he talks. He makes me want to do what I can."
Several local bands, including Kool Shades and AV, will perform at another Obama event on Saturday: The Generation Obama (G.O.) Tucson Music & Arts Festival at Armory Park.
The message from some rock stars is nonpartisan. Kelly Hansen, the lead singer of Foreigner, urged the near-capacity crowd at the Tucson Music Hall Sunday night to just make sure to vote.

**azstarnet**

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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La Cangri Del Blogger said...

Espero que a la gente de Venezuela se le de que DY ya pronto valla para halla sin NINGUNA cancelacion....

La Cangri Del Blogger said...

Las Noticias se actualzan cuando se puede Y cuando ahi noticias. DY no hace las noticias todos los dias....

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