(from left to right) Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam), Boyd Tinsley (Dave Matthews Band), Jackson Browne, Martie Maguire (Dixie Chicks), Steven Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band), Dave Matthews (Dave Matthews Band), Bruce Springsteen, Emily Robison (Dixie Chicks), Patti Scialfa (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band), Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Bonnie Raitt, Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), John Mellencamp, Nick Harmer (Death Cab for Cutie) and Mike Mills (R.E.M.). Photo: Danny Clinch.
The Vote for Change tour came about as part of an informal conversation among a handful of artists on how they could make a difference in this year’s elections and beyond. This idea has resulted in a first-of-its-kind endeavor where Vote for Change participating artists will focus their energies on the states where the elections are expected to be the closest. (from left to right) John Mellencamp, Patti Scialfa (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band), Bruce Springsteen, and Nick Harmer (Death Cab for Cutie).
Photo: Danny Clinch.
The message is simple: it’s time to move on. That’s the point MoveOn PAC, organizer of the Vote For Change tour, is trying to get across.
Predictably, the headliners of the tour, who will crisscross the country for 40 shows in 30 cities in nine battleground states over a mere 10 days, will make that point tactfully. Then again, considering who’s scheduled to take the stage, you never know.
The tour boasts more than 20 acts, including Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, Ben Harper, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Keb’ Mo, John Mellencamp, Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds, R.E.M., James Taylor and those little Texas devils the Dixie Chicks. Detroit will host three of the concerts – Springsteen and R.E.M. at Cobo, Dave Matthews and Ben Harper at the Palace and Dixie Chicks and James Taylor at the Fox – on Saturday, Oct. 3. Meanwhile, Pearl Jam will play Grand Rapids, Browne, Raitt and Keb’ Mo East Lansing, and Mellencamp and Babyface Kalamazoo on the same day.
“We’ve always believed that popular culture and populist politics go hand in hand,” said Eli Pariser of MoveOn. “It’s an honor to be working with so many respected and influential artists, and we’re indebted to them for having the courage to speak out at a time when our country so desperately needs change.”
Not everyone thinks them so influential though. The backlash has already begun. In New York, Marilyn O’Grady, a conservative candidate for a senate seat in the state, has called for a boycott of Springsteen.
“He thinks making millions with a song-and-dance routine allows him to tell you how to vote,” she said.
O’Grady has taken out a 30-second television spot that urges voters to “Boycott the Boss.” The Boss, himself, has no comment about the whole affair. But many of the tour’s other top talents are talking.
“There has never been a more important time to band together and bring about real change,” said Raitt. “I want to see Americans everywhere honor those who have fought and died for our right to vote by getting out to the polls on Election Day. Democracy only works if we work it.”
Vote For Change appears to be working. When tickets for a tour finale in Washington, D.C. featuring 13 acts at the MCI Center went on sale, they sold out in just 30 minutes.
“For our 2.5 million members and far beyond, the Vote for Change tour will have a seismic cultural impact,” said Parisner.
Dave Matthews agreed.
“A vote for change is a vote for a stronger, safer, healthier America,” he said. “A vote for Bush is a vote for a divided, unstable, paranoid America. It is our duty to this beautiful land to let our voices be heard. That’s the reason for the tour. That’s why I’m doing it.”