After nearly ten years of war and atrocity in Afghanistan and Iraq, the complete plunder of the American economy, the co-opting of our political process by corporate interests (sanctioned by the US Supreme Court), the foreclosures of thousands of homes by predatory banks and financial institutions, and a persistently grim outlook on the job market - after all this and so much more, a small band of opportunistic lower-case anarchists and democrats were about ready to take back the reins of our wayward country, to be the change we wished to see, and to occupy Wall Street all the while, until somebody paid attention. I found myself at the center of the action.
I had waited for this moment at least two years, about the same amount of time that I had been writing protest songs - and these were my own response to the milieu described above. After moving to NYC where injustice, greed, exploitation, materialism, and corruption were unavoidable and unconscionable, I couldn't help but notice the relative silence coming from the arts community, the very people that, as far as I'm concerned, are charged with speaking up, crying out, and standing against institutional violence with Truth, Beauty, Peace, Justice. I found that this silence was most sadly (and ironically) deafening from the music scene. As an aspiring songwriter myself, I felt the great weight of responsibility fall on my feeble shoulders; I began writing protest music.
Nearly two years later, and only one month before the occupation was to begin, I released my first opus of such material on an EP called Protest Songs (Are Dead). Little did I know the perfect venue to perform these songs was soon to crop up in the financial district of Manhattan!
And that tiny spark, flicked brightly on September 17, ignited a conflagration that quickly spread across the country and the world. I was continually encouraged by the news coming from Liberty Plaza, especially relayed updates from occupations in Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and so on. This was indeed a real movement!
But as time passed and our humble occupation grew, so too did the police presence and abuse, tourist interference, and media attention (there was a virtual blackout from corporate media until the mass arrest on the Brooklyn Bridge). I felt increasingly uncomfortable at the occupation downtown and spent less and less time there, though my solidarity did not dwindle in the slightest. After that first week I only stayed at the park for morning marches, evening GAs, and overnight camping; after three weeks, I only came for certain special occasions.
I spent the time instead tweeting, writing, and supporting the occupation from my home in uptown Manhattan: I started the Zombie Music Campaign (a portion of which will go directly to OWS) and began working occupy visits into the schedule for my Zombie Music Tour to support the new Protest Songs album. On December 4 I started the tour and have since played for occupations in Philly, DC, Asheville and Chattanooga, with many more occupations to come. It has been great to meet with the other occupations, to see the work they are all doing to resist violence and injustice with peace, compassion, and a hopeful vision for the future ever in view.
The Zombie Music Tour continues tonight in Athens and the campaign, still going on now, could really use your support. 50% goes to five great organizations working toward peace and justice, one of which is Occupy Wall Street in NYC. The rest of the money will support the production of the Protest Songs album and tour.
I do hope you'll consider: if you believe in the occupy movement and/or the role of artists and musicians to inspire and speak truth to power, and if you have the slightest amount to contribute to my existential tip jar, then you can make a huge difference as I trek along on my Zombie Music Tour for peace and justice! Please check out this page for more info and I hope you'll consider nudging me along on my journey.
Please also be sure to learn about and support your nearest occupation. It can be very fatiguing out there, especially as smaller occupations meet resistance from police and local governments. Your local occupy needs your support!
Finally, if you're interested in the Protest Songs album, you can download it from iTunes or listen for free on YouTube. I hope you'll check it out!
Thanks so much for your support and solidarity. We are the 100% and we're all in this together.