Thursday, October 01, 2015

Sanders Campaign Needs More Punk Rockers To Join The Chorus of Musical Support


photo of Alice Bag and Frightwig by Eric Goodfield

by Denise Sullivan

The rock 'n' roll choice for president is clear, according to the Artists and Cultural Leaders for Bernie Sanders. Politically conscious, engaged, and enlightened performers whether from folk roots like Bonnie Raitt or Jackson Browne, or edgier stock like Wayne Kramer, Jello Biafra, and Margaret Cho, comprise the diverse list of performers. Meshell Ndegeocello, Lucinda Williams, David Crosby, John Densmore, and Serj Tankian (System of a Down) have also signed on to support Sanders.

Of course music people traditionally lean left, whether Fleetwood Mac for Clinton or Bruce Springsteen for Obama; we rock the vote. We also know Democratic leaders and insiders rarely allow rebels like Sanders to prevail, but we in the arts and humanities must maintain hope and stand with Sanders. As a woman, I'm particularly interested in Sanders on the ERA and the Paycheck Fairness Act, his advocacy for increasing minimum wage, commitment to expanding health and reproductive rights, and belief that childcare, pre-school and parental leave should be available to all Americans, not just a privileged few.

While I don't know where original punk rocker Alice Bag stands on Sanders, over the weekend I heard her perform "Equality in the USA" with Frightwig in San Francisco at the Punk Renaissance, a weeklong festival organized by Punk Rock Sewing Circle, former punk rockers committed to social justice. Interestingly, Sanders has ties to punk rock, when as mayor of Burlington, he approved the Mayor's Youth Office and punk gathering spot, 242 Main. Not only do I think there could be a valuable meeting of the minds here-- as in a coalition of punk rockers for Sanders-- but Bag's powerful punk performance once again reminded me of my generation's musical ability to change hearts and public opinion in fundamental ways.

Sung to the tune of "Anarchy in the UK," Bag snarled, "Time for equal pay I thought this was the USA!" This is one punk rocker with plenty to say and she does it with more fire than most ("I'm tired of this patriarchal bullshit!"). Accompanied by the forceful  Frightwig, core members of the San Francisco scene who have long advocated for women's rights in song, the band's Mia Simmans led the group through her own anthem, "Redistribution of Wealth." Bag also sang out against Monsanto in "Poison Seed." The evening's lineup also featured the Mutants and Penelope Houston with the Avengers performing her "We Are The One" and "The American In Me," among other timeless indictments of a broken system.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather hear these kinds of songs, sung by women, leading our way into the future, instead of "Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)." I look forward to the continually updated roll call of the artists joining the fight with Sanders, and more songs that will lead the way forward. Until that time, here's some inspiration worth remembering from punk rock's past.

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At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be awesome if these quotes are actually true. I love the Black Flag meme, despite mixed feelings about Rollins.

If they are not actual quotes, I think they do a disservice to the authenticity of Bernie's campaign.

Bernie and his wife fostered the creation of 242 Main, the longest running punk collective in the US, that's enough cred on it's own.

Otherwise keep up the good work.
I read this blog almost daily.



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