United we sing
A new show series gathers local musicians to express their frustrations through protest songs
Election day was overwhelming for local musician Jeannie Howell.
She and more than 100 women gathered on the steps of the state Capitol in pantsuits to take a group photo, celebrating what they thought would be the election of the nation’s first woman president. When the press showed up, reporters asked to interview Howell. They assumed she had organized the event.
Technically, it was her idea, but all she did was make a Facebook page. She didn’t expect this kind of turnout. It spread like wildfire, and she was more than happy to claim it.
“It blew up. I was just excited,” Howell says. “We were there to look at each other in the eye and say, ’This is awesome. This may never happen again. Let’s embrace this moment together.’”
The feeling of elation was soon eclipsed by the despair of Donald Trump unexpectedly winning the nomination. Howell, like millions of other people, was unprepared for this outcome.
“It was the worst gut punch in my life,” Howell says.
This helpless feeling was short-lived. Howell isn’t the kind of person who wallows in self-pity. She contacted local promoter and longtime friend Jerry Perry (full disclosure: Perry helps book the Sammies for SN&R), and the two created an event to fight back. They named it Indivisible, based off the national organization of the same name that aims to obstruct each of Trump’s regressive policies. In a troubling time, they hoped music would bring people together and express all these tumultuous feelings in a constructive and uplifting way.
On Sunday, February 12, at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub, local musicians—including singer-songwriters Howell, Dinorah Klingler, Kevin and Allyson Seconds, and Jonah Matranga—will take turns singing protest songs. Several health and women’s rights nonprofits will speak between the artists.
“It has to be more than a ’Kumbaya’ moment,” Perry says.
Howell and Perry hope to raise awareness about important local issues. Also, they’ll be directing attendees to the Indivisible Guide (www.indivisibleguide.com), which includes many practical ideas on how to fight Trump on a grassroots level.
“People have to feel the energy of being involved,” Perry says.
The musicians’ sets will be short by necessity. So many want to be involved, Perry says that it might become a series of shows. This event features primarily heartfelt singer-songwriters of the acoustic variety, mostly with rock, indie and punk backgrounds. Follow-up shows will likely feature different musical genres.
Each performer has chosen protest songs pertinent to the current political climate. Klingler, who is Latina, chose the Spanish protest song “No Nos Moveraacute;n” to honor the millions of Latinos that feel betrayed by Trump’s racist comments.
“We’re getting just one chance to really honor the name of our country: the United States of America,” Klinger says. “I believe this is our chance to get united against something that seems to be a dream.”
Howell and Perry hope to encourage the audience not to isolate themselves in their homes and stare at Facebook. They need to get out and fight, Howell says.
“Let’s get together in person,” she says. “Let’s give people a small direction and bite off a small piece for them, and that’s their avenue into advocacy and activism.”