I am thrilled to be writing this little entry because I am coming to the home of HELLO GIGGLES! Yes, this week I come to LA with The Citizens Band! We are performing on Wednesday the 19th at the Avalon on Vine St. in a performance co-sponsored by Move On.org and Press Here Productions! It’s extra exciting because we are coming to celebrate the release of our first album “Grab A Root And Growl” which hits the streets on September 18th!
We are a political cabaret, but in the most magical, never never land, dreamy sense. Our album’s title comes from an old Depression Era saying via the Dust Bowl. When life had become wholly unlivable and untenable on the great American prairie in the 1930’s many people had no choice to pick up and leave. But small group remained. They vowed to “Grab A Root And Growl” to stay on the land and fight for it! And people! That’s what I believe we have to do now, here, in the grand U.S of A. We have to Grab A Root And Growl! We have to raise our voices, come together, agitate, VOTE, campaign, pound the pavement to insist on what we believe in. As John Lewis recently said, “the vote is the most powerful, non-violent tool we have in a democratic society. It is precious. It is almost sacred”.
The Citizens Band has become my time traveling device, and after 8 years of mining the past for treasures that tell of the future, I’ve found that music is an oral history. It’s the story of our heartaches, struggles and victories. Songs tell of how we’ve changed and of our stagnation. Music speaks to something primal and intuitive. Music explains the unexplainable and touches us on deeper levels than we understand. Why else would my son be able to hum a tune before he could talk? Why else do children respond to singing, music, rhymes, before language and reason? It transports us somewhere profound and stays with us when all else slips away. Songs, that speak of our journeys and what we’ve overcome can stay with us when written histories turn to dust with age, are burned, banned or forgotten. A song from a specific era can tell us more about that time than most books….if we listen carefully enough. A song can persuade us when speaking when the written word can’t.
Beyond what the written word can do, songs come from the hearts and the voices of those who walked before us. With their voices raised they carried songs from place to place, resurrecting and keeping alive the dying and forgotten stories in a way that only music can. Carl Sandburg said that these songs tell, “not of the ‘people’ of the politicians, not of the customers of The Tin Pan Alley, but rather, The Folks, the common human stream that has counted immensely in the history of music.” Yes, the folks! This is our story.
When we think of songs that cry for change, we think of the protest song or the topical song. These songs are a record, as important as any other kind of historical record. Every period of social upheaval gives birth to songs of discontent.
Artists often describe the process of making great works as an intuited process. Some deep part of ourselves intuits a knowledge that we didn’t know we had. Often, through art, we explain ourselves to ourselves. These songs are this way. They tell us something about the human condition, about a snapshot in time, about how far we’ve come and how much we’ve remained the same. These songs tell us that all our struggles are not dissimilar. Our shared experiences and parallel emotions are what connect us personally and politically. We aren’t so different, and because of this fact, this fact that echoes throughout these songs, we must fight for each other. We are in the same boat brothers and sisters!
In The Citizens Band we take these songs and use them to tell the story of what is going on politically today. There is something profoundly satisfying about finding a song that was written 100 years ago that still has resonance now. But this same satisfaction smacks of something frightening. These songs that sing of our troubles, our human foibles, why are they still relevant? They beg the question; why can’t we learn from our patterns? This is the main question that The Citizens Band seeks to solicit. Let’s look to the past, to understand our present in the hopes of making a better future. Can historical recurrence be our guide in leading us to a brighter day? I think so.
“Allow yourself to be used by this spirit of history” (The Great John Lewis again!) and come join us if you can this Wednesday. We promise to inspire and awe and play some darn good, old fashioned, pro-democracy, anti-apathy, MUSIC TO VOTE TO! HURRAH! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
For more information on MOVE ON.ORG: http://front.moveon.org/