Jim Testa | For The Jersey Journal
If there's one bright side to the country's current political turmoil, it's that the protest song is making a comeback.
The mix of politics and the popular song has been an American tradition since the birth of the nation, but the protest song – mixing rock and folk to express political outrage, opposition, or support for a cause – became a staple of the turbulent Sixties. On Sunday, February 19, at Guitar Bar Jr. in Hoboken, a host of local artists will be performing their favorite protest songs at a concert billed as "Songs Of Liberty And Justice," to benefit the ACLU
Among the performers will be Bar/None Records owner Glenn Morrow, Jon & Deena of The Cucumbers, Hoboken chanteuse Tammy Faye Starlight, folksinger Dave Calamoneri, Rebecca Turner, Stephen Said, Jordan Chassan, and many more.
The concert is the brainchild of Elena Skye and Boo Reiners of Hoboken's Demolition String Band. "For me, it was really just a matter or doing something before I lose my mind," said Skye. "The past few weeks have been really surreal. I knew this administration was going to be horrible, but I had no idea just how horrible and how much damage they would do so quickly."
Elena and Boo are no strangers to concerts of this kind; they've organized many tribute nights to favorite performers or genres over the years, recruiting friends and fellow musicians. "We know a lot of musicians who are as horrified as we are about what's going on, so it made sense to try and pull us all together in hopes of beginning a series of events like this, to raise money for various organizations that we're really going to need, and are going to need our support, in the coming years," said Skye.
Musicians largely sat out the presidential election, but the Trump administration seems to be motivating the music community to organize and speak out. Elena and Boo said that the idea of a local benefit for an organization like the ACLU, which fights to protect individual rights, is a good example of how artists can make their feelings known.
"Doing work on a grassroots level is so important because so many of us feel hopeless and helpless," Skye said. "Our democracy is being attacked on so many levels at the same time, it's overwhelming. Knowing that we can make a difference in our own community - meeting neighbors who feel the same way we do, making our voices heard and exercising our right to gather and voice our opposition - will be inspiring and healing, I hope."
Guitar Bar Jr. at 203 11th Street is the uptown outlet of Guitar Bar, the Hoboken music store owned by musician James Mastro (the Bongos, Health & Happiness Show, Ian Hunter Band.) The benefit will begin at 7 p.m. with a $15 donation requested at the door. Copies of Indivisible: A Practical Guide To Resisting The Trump Administration will be raffled off at the show.
Speaking of benefits, it's fundraising time for New Jersey's foremost listener-supported radio stations, WFDU-FM and WRSU-FM. Al Crisafulli, the owner of Dromedary and Sugarblast Records, will be hosting a special "Skinny Tie" version of his "Signal To Noise" show on WDFU.FM at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, February 15. For a $15 donation, he will play any punk or new-wave request from listeners. That will be the kickoff to WFDU's annual fundraising drive.
On Saturday, February 25, deejay Pat Byrne will bring his "Prove It All Night" variety show back to WFMU's Monty Hall for a special benefit show to kick off the station's annual fundraising drive. Pat's guests will be comic Seth Herzog, Vic Ruggiero (of the Slackers,) and a DJ set by Sunshine & Rain. Monty Hall is located at 43 Montgomery St. Admission is $5, but guaranteed seating is available for $10. For more information, visit WFDU.FM and WFMU.org.
CLASSIC COUNTRY IN HOBOKEN
On Friday, February 17, Hoboken's Little City Books is presenting a "Classic Country Night" with an A-list of local talent (Gene D. Plumber, Tammy Faye Starlight, Amy Allison, Kate Jacobs, Dave Schramm, the Cucumbers, Amy Rigby, and more playing their favorite country songs from the Thirties to the Seventies. Little City Books is at 100 Bloomfield Street, Hoboken. Advance tickets are recommended and available from littlecitybooks.com.