Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Dead and the RNC

As a Grateful Dead fan and a conservative I found this interesting: The Grateful Dead Come to the RNC, Peace, love, and politics.
With Donald Trump winning the GOP nomination this year, a number of corporate sponsors have declined to support the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Wells Fargo, UPS, Motorola, JPMorgan Chase, Ford and Walgreens were all sponsors of the convention in 2012, and are MIA in 2016. Even a number of prominent Republicans are either skipping the convention (Mitt Romney) or addressing the convention via video (Marco Rubio).

So it's a little surprising that of all the people who apparently have no problem associating themselves with the convention this year, one of them is Bob Weir. While that may strike fear in the hearts of the legendary Grateful Dead guitarist's fans, don't worry—Weir hasn't become a Republican and isn't hanging out in Cleveland. In fact, Weir's pretty busy at the moment, as The Dead and Company are on tour right now with John Mayer. (Nota Bene: I was recently in Boulder the day of a Dead and Company show—which was exactly as much of a Cantina-On-Mos-Eisley carnival of souls as you could imagine—and was reminded repeatedly by multiple deadheads not to call the remaining band "The Grateful Dead," because it can't be The Grateful Dead without their now deceased leader Jerry Garcia, PBUH.)

Anyway, Weir's name was being billed heavily at the RNC because he's one of the founders of Headcount, "a non-partisan organization that works with musicians to promote participation in democracy." Which is a lofty way of saying that they go around to jam band concerts and EDM shows registering young people to vote.

Headcount's RNC event was pretty low-profile, especially since they corralled one of the best musicians on the planet to play for them. While forgettable '90s alt-rockers took the main stage at the House of Blues, Headcount arranged for Robert Randolph and the Family Band—a.k.a. the Jimi Hendrix of pedal steel guitar—to take the stage in a small bar off to the side at around 11:30. They played for about 50 invite-only Republicans, and as the kids like to say, Randolph tore it up. (But not before Headcount thanked their corporate sponsors, Amazon and Oracle, for making it all possible.)

In a weird way, the event was a reminder that not everything about American politics is broken. In key respects, our cultural divides are not as fierce as they once were—at least at the event I attended. I met a number of Republicans there who were keyed into the work of Headcount because they were big Grateful Dead fans. It may seem a bit jarring when you encounter staunch Republicans bragging about the great second-generation soundboard they have of a 14-minute version of "Fire on the Mountain" from the Oakland Dead show in '86, but I presume Weir and Headcount know their target audience. Similarly, disliking Robert Randolph, who combines the best of America's great blues, rock, and gospel traditions, should be grounds for putting you in a catapult and flinging you over Trump's wall. In a week where half the people in Cleveland are openly lamenting having to be there at all, it was one hell of an event.

There comes a redeemer, and he slowly too fades away
And there follows his wagon behind him that's loaded with clay
And the seeds that were silent all burst into bloom, and decay
And night comes so quiet, it's close on the heels of the day

No comments:

Post a Comment