This is an exciting time; it feels like everybody is in motion, mobilizing for the election feeling a sense of urgency that has taken us all out of our state of shock into a one of action. From anarchists to apathetics, the citizens are deciding that this is one time we all need to cast a vote. The arts community is coming to the table, with great documentaries coming out just in time to help turn the tide. Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Control Room, just to name a couple I can’t remember a time when so many musicians organized around an election. Ani DiFranco came up with the clever idea of a swing state tour called Vote Dammit. Indigo Girls are honored to be joining her for three southern shows in September. You can go to www.righteousbabe.com for more information. I just read a book by Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman and David Goodman called Exception to the Rulers. It is chock full of information about the Bush Administration and its corporate connections which have gone unchecked as well as the mainstream media’s lack of true objective journalism. Websites like WWW.Moveon.org, WWW.Headcount.org, and WWW.Punkvoter.com, are making concerted efforts to educate and urge disenfranchised people to vote. It feels like the Democrats could really come out on top in this election.
The Democratic convention was on during our west coast tour, but I managed to catch most of the reruns on CNN. The most inspiring speeches I heard were from Barak Obama and Al Sharpton. Al’s was the one that really got me fired up. He tells it like it is and is truly inspiring to me. I was totally disappointed when CNN came on afterwards and made such a big deal about him going over his time limit. You know Al just can’t win; he’s not tame enough for our racist media. They had to take him down. At least when they interviewed Donna Brazil, she pointed out that it was one of the best speeches of the convention and Mr. Sharpton’s career.
We will see another great African-American activist when we go to Charleston, W.V. on September 6th for a Labor Day Rally with Jesse Jackson and Willie Nelson. We will be supporting the United Mine Workers and the AFL-CIO. The theme of the rally is Reinvest In America / Put America Back To Work. I am hoping as we support the United Mine Workers and the AFL-CIO, we are helping to make the coalition between unions and environmentalists stronger. We support the unions and encourage them to push for lower impacts on the ecosystem and communities as well as safer working conditions for the workers.
Our Honor the Earth work continues with board meeting and numerous emails passed around to discuss our future events and goals. We have a big benefit planned in Salt Lake City on October 1st. This comes just time for the election season. We are still focusing on energy justice issues and working towards the goal of more alternative energy for the United States. Our last tour has helped to put up wind power on Indian reservations. We are also emphasizing solar energy. I know John Kerry has included the development of renewables in his energy agenda. Its good to have a candidate who is not knee deep in the oil industry.
Emily attended the Annie Mae Pictou Aquash Awards at the United Nations. It was part of a larger United Nations Event event – “Honoring Indigenous Women of the World”, and included rituals and songs from all over the indigenous world. The Annie Mae Pictou Award was created in 1998 by the Indigenous Women’s Network to honor Annie Mae’s life by affirming the strength and vision of Native women whose work is often unrecognized. Annie Mae Pictou was a Native activist murdered on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1975. The award now also honors the life and work of Ingrid Washinawatok El-Issa. Ingrid was an internationally recognized and beloved humanitarian killed after visiting the U’wa community in Columbia in 1999.
I asked Emily for a reflection form the event and she said this:
“The songs from Hawaii were especially enchanting and inspiring. The whole evening, with its representation of diversity and strong women, paid tribute to the life and work of Annie Mae, Ingrid Washinawatok and others who have passed on, and gave us all hope, courage, and gratitude for the work being done in the world by visionary indigenous activists.”
The three activists who received the award this year are:
Mililani Trask, an international human rights activist from Hawaii,
Noeli Pocaterra, an indigenous rights activist in Venezuela,
And Katrina Cantrell, a Shoshone reproductive rights and women’s health activist.
For more Honor The Earth news go to
This past April, we went to the huge March on Washington. It was an awesome event and felt like a send–off into our year of activism. It helps to see so many allies in one place. The march showed an impressive amount of diversity in age, race, and gender. The selection of speakers emphasized the importance of the feminist movement having an agenda that includes concerns of all economic classes and races. The movement has made great strides to recognize that abortion is only one issue among many that need to be addressed as part of the larger problem of women as a disenfranchised population. Gloria Steinem, in true form gave props to the youth of our movement. Deloris Huerto, co-founder of the United Mineworkers, social activist, labor leader and organizer, spoke about women’s rights from a Latina / Chicana perspective. There were many great speakers and performers, each with a different perspective.
Our summer tour season came to a close last night with a show in Brunswick, Ga. On August 7th Emily joined Caroline Aiken and Trina Mead (Three5Human) for a jam later that night at a club on St. Simon’s Island called Murphy’s. I sat on a porch and thought about the shows we used to play on this island at resort clubs. We would bring our friends and play for a few nights in a row, hanging on the beach during the day. Caroline hails from St. Simons and when we were starting out, her shows out on the island were legendary. Caroline gave us a break early on in our music days in Atlanta and let us play a few songs in between sets. Trina Mead’s new band is called Three5Human, from the old racist classification of African Americans as 3/5’s human. They are working on a new record and we will bringing them on for some shows this Fall.
Two days before Brunswick, GA., we returned to the West Coast for the Homo A Go Go art and music festival. What an amazing event. The queer community comes together every other year in Olympia, Wa. to play music, perform spoken word, show films, display art, attend workshops, and encourage radical activism. Money raised by the festival goes to the Olympia based Gender Variance Healthcare Project. The transgender awareness and emphasis of this festival makes it unique and ultra-important to the queer movement. As I was listening to all the bands and spoken word, I just kept thinking how much better radio would be, if it wasn’t so trans/ homophobic. It felt super special to play for the Homo A Go Go audience and the organizers were some of the best we’ve worked with. We ended our set by raffling off a chance to sing Closer To Fine with us to raise money for the GVHP. (We did this 2 weeks before in Seattle for Home Alive and raised over $3000). I wish I could of stayed all week, especially since Team Dresch had a rare reunion on Saturday Night. While I missed the reunion I did get to play a couple of songs with The Butchies.
Please check out www.homoagogo.com and look at all the performers, so you can start checking out their cds and books. My first recommendations from the festival would be music by Team Dresch, Mirah, or Triple Creme and books by Ivan E.Coyote.
Tomorrow I head into the studio to work on vocals for my solo record. We have a little time off in August to refuel for the coming season. We appreciate all you folks coming out to our shows and being the best audience ever. And once again, please vote.
-A.R. August 8, 2004
What’s In Rotation:
*The Gits-Enter: The Conquering Chicken
*Queens of the Stone Age-Songs For The Deaf
*Athens Boys Choir-Rhapsody in T
*Poet:A tribute to Townes Van Zandt
What’s On The Bedside Table:
*The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the U.S.A.,1638-1870 by W.E.B. Du Bois
*Four Souls by Loiuse Erdrch
*Love and Rockets #10 by the Hernandez Brothers
*The W Effect-Bush’s War On Women edited by Laura Flanders
*The Greatest Taboo-Homosexuality in the Black Community edited by Delroy Constantine-Simms
Best independent bookstore from this year:
Birchbark Books, Minneapolis, Mn. –owned by Louise Erdrich, this bookstore has an excellent, focused selection, including a great children’s section.
Chris Vereen’s brilliant photo exhibit- “From Galesburg to Atlanta”
Atlanta Contemporary Art Center –Phone: (404) 688 1970
September 11th-October 23rd, 2004