Music is the message
Music, speakers and workshops planned for all-day political-awareness fest
In the last 40 years, music has become a powerful tool for social and political awareness. Artists like Bob Dylan and, years later, Rage Against the Machine have used music as a conduit for spreading their message to young people who may not otherwise seek it out.
With the political climate as hot as it’s been in decades, it’s an ideal time to initiate political discussion using any means available.
“Music events usually miss out on having a message beyond music,” says Hjalmar Hake. In response, Hake has organized “Bring the Noise: Democracy Needs a Voice!,” an eight hour event that will bring together music, speakers and workshops in order to provide an atmosphere conducive to healthy political discussion.
“People should be engaging each other. Politics shouldn’t be taboo.” said Hake’s wife, Wendy, who has worked with him to bring the idea to fruition.
Hjalmar said rounding up performers and speakers was an easy task because Chico is a hotbed for politics, culture and music. The couple began putting the word out in July, and through simple networking they were able to assemble a diverse range of artists and speakers.
“Once we started to dig into it, it became overwhelming,” he said.
The festival will also feature voter registration booths for both parties. Hjalmar said that, with the political division in the United States, he is shocked by the low voter registration numbers.
“In this country, not even half of the population is registered to vote,” he said. “It’s a great failure. In some countries it’s illegal not to vote.”
Hjalmar said the entertainment will cater to a wide range of musical tastes. Local DJs and bands such as Matt Loomis and Squirrel vs. Bear are among the dozen or so artists set to perform.
“It assembles a large group of people who think the same way,” said Squirrel vs. Bear bassist Ron Barker. Likely those who attend the event will lean to the left end of the political spectrum, but Barker’s comment speaks to the benefit of putting the sensitive topic of politics in a comfortable environment to help people speak what’s on their minds.
The featured speakers and workshops will touch on important local and national issues.
Derek Mitchell, founder of the Center for Cooperative Research, will speak about the importance of the Internet as a means to promote social change. His Web site, www.cooperativeresearch.org, is a database with summaries of historic events, most notably the events leading up to 9/11 and the Iraq war.
It’s what Mitchell calls an open-content model for publishing. Soon people from all over the world will be able to access the site to add, clarify and delete information after it has been reviewed for accuracy.
“It’s really dynamic and a really good analytical source,” Mitchell said.
Other workshops will include “Blood Ties and Business Ties in Politics” and “Beat the System,” which will discuss the use of referendums as a means to get important issues on ballots.
The all-day event will take place outdoors at Riparia, a park-like setting located in south at the end of Normal Street and off Estes Road, by the old Diamond Match Factory. There are no presale tickets available, and proceeds from the $10 admission will go to the Chico Peace and Justice Center.
The Hakes said they hope “Bring the Noise” will lead to smaller monthly gatherings. Wendy said that, if anything, she hopes the event will offer those who attend a different perspective and encourage political awareness.
“It was a natural thing to do this event," she said. "We thought it was very important to do this before the election."