Rocktober: Get Out And Vote!

JamBase & HeadCount are proud to present: Rocktober '08 - Get Out and Vote!

It's that extra special, super rare season once again! Merrier than Christmas and happier than Chanukah, Presidential Elections happen only once every four years... we should all thank the forefathers for that one. Sure we're a music site, but like everyone else, we can't stop thinking about the next Prez, the future, the economy and all that other stuff that makes seeing live music all the more necessary. In honor of this great American tradition we asked a bunch of our favorite artists to share some thoughts on the democratic process. Check back daily to see who said what.

ROCKTOBER 2008
Click on the artist for their answers to the following:

  • Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?
  • What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?
  • If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?
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ARTIST
Patterson
Hood
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Skerik
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Warren
Haynes
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Tim
Carbone

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George
Porter Jr.

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Ted
Nugent
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Peter
Walker
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Grace
Potter
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Dave
Schools
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Al
Schnier
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Zigaboo
Modeliste
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Rich
Vogel
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Sonya
Kitchell
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Marc
Brownstein
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Brian
Stoltz
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Steve
Kimock
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Bill
Payne
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Keller
Williams
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Ed
Anderson
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Tom
Morello
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Jerry
Joseph
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David
Murphy
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Bassnectar
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Hank
Williams III
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Josh
Clark
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Reed
Mathis
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Nathan
Moore
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James
Marler
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Tom
Hamilton
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Joel
Cummins
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Vince
Herman
  
Patterson Hood - Drive-By Truckers

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

After eight years of Bush/Cheney running our economy and world leadership role into the ground a change is needed more than ever before. On a more personal note, this election marks the first time in my lifetime that I've ever been able to vote for my first choice candidate from the primaries in the November election. Usually the person I like is weeded out in the early primaries. I think Obama can go all the way and I think he would be a great President.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

I think all aspects of life are affected by politics so therefore everything is somewhat political. To pretend otherwise is a dangerous slope and a big reason why we as a nation got into as much trouble as we have. I really try not to ever stand up there and preach my political beliefs to the audience, as that's not what they've come to the show for, but it does affect the writing and it's no secret how I (or the rest of the band) feel about things. I tend to write about more personal aspects of character's lives, but often the two are intermingled.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Educate yourself. Read and study what's going on. If you get all of your information from one source, look around. I make it a point to read viewpoints from all over the political spectrum, Huffington AND Drudge, MSNBC AND Fox; I read The National Review and NY Times. I'll admit, I'm a little bit of a news junkie and have been most of my life. For the record, I'm not necessarily looking to vote for anyone with my exact political views for President. I think we need a somewhat moderate President who can at least try to unify some of the divisions. The Republican's like to attack Obama for his liberal views, but he's actually quite the moderate on most issues when you actually read what he says and what he does. McCain used to be one of the more moderate people in the Republican party but he has bowed down to the neo-cons to try to shore up their base and by nominating Sarah Palin as VP, who's basically Cheney with lipstick. Oh yeah, and get out there and vote.

The Drive-By Truckers perform tonight in Oxford, MS and kick-off a massive co-headlining tour with The Hold Steady on October 30. Complete tour dates available here.

If you've got your own answers to these questions, or want to respond in any way, check out our new Politics Forum...

Skerik - Critters Buggin, McTuff, Syncopated Taint

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Every election is different, and very much the same. Depending on one's understanding of history, it will determine your understanding/frustration, etc with the current events. I am very happy to see women getting involved at high levels of American politics, but I feel Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Palin, although they are very different, represent nothing new, and are perpetuating a broken system. We are seeing the failures of the Reagan administration's policies in two important areas, deregulation, and the solicitation of the Christian right. When people rant and rave about what is 'American,' and in the same breath support censorship, religion in government, and other unconstitutional ideologies, I get crazy and pray for more punk rock to come and educate the masses!!!

What is the relationship between music and politics and how - if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

I am constantly motivated by current events and my (mostly instrumental) music reflects this. Although it is not something tangible, emotions, thoughts, feelings, etc are constantly seeping into the music we play, and in turn, transmitted to the people who listen. I am very disappointed in most singer-songwriters these days, I rarely hear any kind of protest songs, whether serious, or irreverent. Thank god for The Daily Show and many comedians who are taking up the slack, otherwise I would have killed myself 8 years ago!!! We need some new DEAD KENNEDYS style bands with some 'REAGAN HATES ME' anthems. I see Ani DiFranco, part time Rage Against the Machine, and Spearhead, etc doing their part, but what about bigger artists? Where are the Pete Seegers, Bob Dylans, Joe Hills of today?

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Please read the CONSTITUTION, and A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES by Howard Zinn and tell me if we are not becoming a fascist, greed worshiping, xenophobic, theocracy?!?!? We are in big trouble if MCCAIN/ PALIN gets in office, the era of apathy needs to end this November, please motivate ALL your friends to vote, it's the ONLY way to initiate even a small amount of change, and it is crucial that it happen NOW!!! Anyone with a passport will tell you that the whole world is watching us now, if we fuck this up, we will lose a lot, and I want my daughter to be able to travel and see the world when she grows up, PLEASE!!!!

Skerik's next gig is on 10/18 in Portland with McTuff, complete tour dates available here.

If you've got your own answers to these questions, or want to respond in any way, check out our new Politics Forum...

Warren Haynes - Gov't Mule, Allman Brothers Band

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

This is the most important election in my lifetime. If we don't start making serious changes in our government immediately we're going to find that it's too late to get back what we've lost as a nation. Having traveled abroad since the early 80's I can tell you from talking to so many people in so many other countries that America has always been loved, emulated, and held in high esteem around the world. After 9/11 we had the entire world on our side. But what's happened since then has alienated us from the international community as well as creating a division in our own country. We are gradually/steadily eliminating the middle class in America. Most Americans can't afford to go to the doctor and our health care system is a joke. Those that don't believe that need to do some research and stop buying into the propaganda. Oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies etc. are running/ ruining our country. The good news is that more young people than ever are coming out to vote. This is the only way to implement the change we need.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

I grew up in a time when the Vietnam War was being protested heavily by our citizens, especially young people. The music that reflected those times was very intense but has somehow maintained a timeless quality due to its integrity and intent. There are proven theories that war and civil unrest always creates or stimulates waves of great, important music. Music should be important. It always has been - why should that be different now? Up until recently the political messages in my music were a little more subtle but now is the time for immediacy.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Vote. Speak out. Pay attention to what's going on. Don't buy in to the soundbites. Talk to people outside your circles and listen to what they have to say. Read up on the issues. And vote.

The Allman Brothers play tonight (10/03) in North Carolina, ABB dates can be found here. Gov't Mule's next gig is on October 30 in Vermont. Complete Mule dates available here.

If you've got your own answers to these questions, or want to respond in any way, check out our new Politics Forum...

Tim Carbone - Railroad Earth

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

By Susan J. Weiand
The obvious answer is yes it is. We have a black man who is the Democratic nominee for President. Moreover, this election is different because it seems that real change in the White House may be essential for the well being of the country, if not the world.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

Because music is one of the louder voices in pop culture it can be used to advance a political statement (for better or worse) or it can be used as an attempt to sway public opinion. It can be very powerful. Some of our songs have some subtle political undertones but for the most part it's better that it appeals to a higher consciousness.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

This coming election will be an historic one. We have a chance to change how the world sees and relates to us. Please vote!

Railroad Earth's next show is on October 11 in Philly. Check here for complete RRE tour dates.

If you've got your own answers to these questions, or want to respond in any way, check out our new Politics Forum...

George Porter Jr. - The Meters, Porter Batiste Stoltz

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

George Porter Jr.
Only in one way that there is a man of color in it but the crap is the same.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

I for one see no relationship between my music and politics, and it has not affected my music in any way.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

I would say this is your right to vote, use it for the betterment of man, women & child.

George Porter Jr.'s next gig is on October 11 with Porter-Batiste-Stoltz at the Loki Music Festival in Asheville, NC; tour dates available here.

If you've got your own answers to these questions, or want to respond in any way, check out our new Politics Forum...

Ted Nugent

Ted Nugent from MySpace
Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Yes it is more critical in that America has over the years slid further down the slippery slope to a nanny state socialist wimp society and the Obama ticket clearly will jettison us dangerously deeper into dependant socialism.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

Though much great music can, has been and should be apolitical, it can also stimulate the thought process with its celebration and prodding of activism while shining a light on the good, bad and ugly of the human experience.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Do not ask what your country can do for you, do all that you can for your country. To be productive and independent is vastly superior to being slovenly and dependent.

For more on Ted Nugent, check out our exclusive feature/interview with him here.

If you've got your own answers to these questions, or want to respond in any way, check out our new Politics Forum...

Peter Walker - Eulogies

Peter Walker
Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

I think there's more on the line now than ever before. It's the same old story but with greater numbers: Our impact on the climate, our dependence on oil, war, our healthcare system, our economy. We've heard it all before but right now we're in some very dark days at home and abroad.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

Music is an outlet, a voice. Even if personally I'm not singing about tearing down political walls, I'm singing about things that often don't get talked about – like emotional walls. Things you'll never get into by watching the news, or by following politics. Those are some of the most threatening walls to me.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Vote for your values, not for your money.

Eulogies are on tour now. Tonight (10/07) they celebrate the release of Tempted To Do Nothing at Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles. Complete tour dates available here.

If you've got your own answers to these questions, or want to respond in any way, check out our new Politics Forum...

Grace Potter - Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter by Russ Harrington
Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

This election is different than past elections but it's building on what the 2004 election started. There was a lot of movement in this direction before it came to pass. This election is like the head of the pimple.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

I try not to make music more important than it really is. In my mind music is something that takes you away from the overwhelming thoughts about life and the troubling times that we're in. I feel that at this juncture in our political history, though, there is no avoiding it. Even for me as a musical secularist, it's unavoidable to cross over.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Choose wisely.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are on tour now. Their next gig is tomorrow night (10/09) in Northampton, MA. Complete tour dates available here, maybe if you ask nice Grace will wear the flag...

If you've got your own answers to these questions, feel like talking about that lucky flag, or want to respond in any way, check out our new Politics Forum...

Dave Schools - Widespread Panic, Stockholm Syndrome

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Dave Schools by Willa Stein
I'm not sure just how different this election is from others. The faces have changed but things seem to be basically the same: the same hot button issues, the same waffling and mudslinging from two candidates who seem to have de-polarized themselves from the campaign planks that separated them during the primaries. I do KNOW that things seem to be far worse for the average American and far more desperate for the Constitution than they did four years ago (and I didn't think it could get any worse).

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

When I was a little kid, music seemed to be the voice of change and dissent. In the best cases it could galvanize a crowd to take to the streets in a constitutionally guaranteed show of civil disobedience. These days it seems that many artists are actually SUING candidates (McCain at least) for using their songs without permission as aural wallpaper for the image of their campaigns. I'm sure that artists are just as angry and have plenty to say, but I can't seem to find their music anywhere. Perhaps it is confined to "Free Speech Zones." The idea of areas where protesters are kept well away from candidates (and in some cases behind chain link fence) is outrageous in this country. As far as my own writing goes, I would say that I shot my political wad four years ago with Stockholm Syndrome. The writing continues, but with less venom and more hope.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

If I could speak to all voters I would have to say that we need to demand more transparency in the voting process. These electronic voting machines that have no real way of being secured scare me. We should have the option of voting on paper even if it means navigating all kinds of chads and counting ballots that take much longer. Finally, I would suggest to never give up hope in the dream of democracy. Find ways to educate yourself about the candidates. Learn all you can about your LOCAL elected officials and make your voice heard to them. Remind them that they are supposed to be working for US. A good place to get unbiased information about your representatives and their voting records is: www.votesmart.org. Check it out!

Widespread Panic's next gig is tomorrow night (10/10) in Austin, Texas. Complete Panic tour dates available here.

If you've got your own answers to these questions, or want to respond in any way, check out our new Politics Forum...

Al Schnier - moe., Al & The Transamericans

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Al Schnier by Dino Perrucci
Every election is different. This one seems critical. We are in a very precarious position now, where the most subtle ripple could set off a huge wave of change in the near future. So much of what has occurred over the last 30 years (not just the last eight) has led us here - a system in which power and money is chasing its own tail - that it will be challenging for either candidate.

Our country was based on the principles of freedom and democracy, but the driving force has been free enterprise. Our founding fathers established an economy that was free from taxation from the British Empire. Certainly, freedom of speech and freedom of religion - these "inalienable rights" are not to be denied, but the single principle that ultimately may be our most challenging is that of free enterprise. So often in our history (and currently) the money trumps those "inalienable rights." Almost every single problem we have in this county can be traced back to whether or not someone made a profit - lobbyists, the pharmaceutical industry, tobacco, oil, religion, campaign financing, the environment, AIDS, homeless, the drug war, any war... Follow the money.

So, is this election different? I have a feeling that over the next ten years we are going to see some very significant changes in the global dynamic. This may be one of the most important elections of our lifetime.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

Music has always been a great outlet for me, both as a listener and as an artist. So often, I turn to music as a means of expression or communication, especially for the issues most important to me. I'm a big fan of guys like Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Ray Davies, Elvis Costello - guys who often wrote great songs about the issues on their minds.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

You're right to vote is more than a privilege. It is an opportunity to be a part of the equation. Your daily lives may very well seem untouched by the impact of your single vote - especially in the short term; however, in the long run, you will be bringing about a change that will echo for many years to come. The key is to set that wave in motion now.

If you're not registered to vote or have any questions, check out www.headcount.org.

moe. is currently on a break, but you can catch Al & The Transamericans on tour starting on Halloween in Utica, New York. Tour dates available here.

If you've got your own answers to these questions, or want to respond in any way, check out our new Politics Forum...

Zigaboo Modeliste - The Meters

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Zigaboo Modeliste
It would seem young people are really getting involved in the voting process. African Americans and women are represented more than ever in this electoral process. Cyberspace technology has entered into the political forum and this avenue has exploded, giving this election another outlet for people to connect on the issues.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

Even though there is too much politics in music, there is not enough music in politics. Therefore, because of that, it has prompted me to write about one of the candidates that I support through a song called "0-b-a-m-a, Obama (Obamagroove)" in an effort to move forward in a more positive direction. It's time for a change!

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

The U.S. will not be complete until everyone votes. America is at stake and everybody should have a say. It is a privilege and your duty to vote.

Zig's next gig is on October 24 at Pier 23 in San Francisco, CA. Complete Zigaboo Modeliste tour dates available here. And be sure to peep his new track "0-b-a-m-a, Obama (Obamagroove)" at www.obamagroove.com.

If you've got your own answers to these questions, or want to respond in any way, check out our new Politics Forum...

Rich Vogel - Galactic

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Rich Vogel by Dino Perrucci
It's funny, I remember blabin' on camera to the HeadCount folks four years ago about how important the last election was... and it was. Now as I sit here four years more jaded I feel like I've seen it all. After eight years of W, well... no where to go but up right?! Maybe not. If nothing else I'm going to be driven to the polls on November 4th by the one scenario that scares the shit out of me - that McCain could win... and then die.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

For me the relationship is that music is the thing I go back to to remember that life is good when politics makes me want to stick a fork in my eye.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

I would tell people that the qualifications for being president have to go beyond a candidate being someone you can "relate to," or feel like you "could have a beer with." I was reading a book about the Kennedy's recently and as we went through the Cuban missile crisis I was amazed by just how close we came to having a nuclear war. All of the generals of the Joint Chiefs of Staff we're telling Kennedy that he had to bomb the missile sites and then invade Cuba with ground forces. Kennedy asked one of the generals what the Soviets would do once we started killing Russian soldiers. The general said "nothing." Decades later they held a conference commemorating the missile crisis with principle people from both sides. During the conference the Russians participating revealed that not only were there thousands more Soviet soldiers in Cuba than was thought at the time but that they possessed tactical (battlefield) nuclear weapons and were authorized to use them to repel an American invasion! Kennedy was a student of history and knew that WWI had begun almost accidently because of the actions of a small number of people. He was a young president but he had an understanding of the world and the forces at play to make the right call and NOT heed the advice of his military advisors during the biggest military crisis of the cold war. The point is that rather than long for a president that is "like you," you should pray to God that your president is smarter than you are.

Galactic is on tour now, dates available here.

If you've got your own answers to these questions, or want to respond in any way, check out our new Politics Forum...

Sonya Kitchell

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Sonya Kitchell
Absolutely. Why? For me, first of all, because I am able to vote. I was too young to vote before, and this will be my first election to vote in. In the broader sense, it is the first time a black man or a woman have run for president or vice president and it's about time, seeing as our country is not only made up of white men. America is truly one of the world's mixing pots and I look forward to the day that the president reflects the vast variety of the constitutes in our country.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

I believe that the relationship between music and politics is an important one, because musicians and public figures have the platform from which they can affect people. Some musicians will say music and politics should be separated and I think that's fine, but personally, I care about the state of the world and if there is anything I can do to make it better, I will do it. That being said, politicians hugely affect the way we live, through the bills that are passed and the choices that our made, so I believe we should care who's in office and do everything in our power to make sure it's someone who will have a beneficial affect on the country rather than a largely detrimental one.

This belief affects my music in the sense that I do write political songs because it's something I care about.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Please vote and take the time to think about it.

Sonya Kitchell is on tour now and The Slip is her backing band! Their next gig is October 15 in Boulder, CO. Completer tour dates available here.

Got thoughts? Share them on our Politics Forum...

Marc Brownstein - The Disco Biscuits, Conspirator

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Marc Brownstein by Dave Vann
Well the obvious factor in this historic election is that we are going to end up with either a black President or a woman VP. That right there makes it the most unique election in the history of our country. Here's to hoping for the former (no disrespect to women on a whole, this one [Palin] just scares me more than the lunch lady: Want some more Sloppy Joe?!?!?!!).

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

There is no direct relationship between music and politics, no more than there is for any other profession and politics. There is a huge relationship between people of our generation and politics. Having watched the economy spin out of control and the wars linger on and on, our generation has been energized on the subject of politics. Not since the '60s have so many people out of the political sphere taken it upon themselves to become socially and politically active; and music is just one small part of that.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Rise up. Rise up and take back control of this country. Together we can rebuild the reputation of our amazing nation. And don't forget, we live in the most amazing nation in the world. I mean, if someone as inarticulate as George W. Bush can become the 2nd most powerful man out there, then this really is the land of opportunity. Make it yours.

Marc Brownstein's next gig is with Conspirator on October 22 at the Georgia Theatre Athens, GA. The Disco Biscuits next shows will be part of Caribbean Holidaze in Jamaica; they follow that with a five-night NYE run in NYC. Complete Bisco tour dates available here.

Got something to say? Let it be heard on our Politics Forum...

Brian Stoltz - Porter Batiste Stoltz, The Neville Brothers

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Brian Stoltz by Sam Friedman
In some respect it will be different. The upcoming election in November holds the possibility of realignment - a time when ideas and stale patterns of policy can shift. Americans have the opportunity to break away from the old, stagnant way of looking at things and begin to influence those in power with a new, think out of the box mentality - creating new paradigms. But this will not be easy. There may be some difficult lessons to go through in the process. America has been riding the wave for a long time. In many ways, delusion and deception are drawing to a close. There is a growing consciousness among us. Things that were in the past hidden are now easily exposed. Much of what we have taken for granted no longer works. You can see things beginning to unravel. Banks and insurance companies are failing due to greedy accounting practices and republican deregulation, while their CEO's take home huge severance packages. The government bails out billion dollar corporations at the tax payer's expense, while veterans and people down on their luck are left homeless in the street, including people still suffering the effects of Hurricane Katrina three years later. We, the tax payers, are paying for the bailing out of the failed home mortgage industry (so we now all own homes that we can't live in). They have privatized wealth and socialized debt. Soon all this will be seen as a case of massive fraud and manipulation by the banks, brokerage houses, and sub-prime lenders.

Some American soldiers deployed to Iraq are making $800 a week while Washington pays mercenaries between $650 and $1000 a day. Human beings continue to be tortured while the White House says, "America does not torture." Private Security Company's like Blackwater USA are not held responsible when they cavalierly murder innocent Iraqis. Company's like Halliburton and Bechtel are pulling in billions in profits nation building and constructing schools in Iraq while at home ours crumble – and most on the right want to do away with the Department of Education. Oil prices are increasingly on the rise, making it impossible for some families (and for bands to tour), while Exxon shatters their quarterly profits record at $11.7 billion. Environmental changes are taking place. The Bush/Cheney Administration, and those tied to the president, ratchet up the rhetoric over Iran's nuclear capabilities in the same way that they did in regards to Iraqi WMD – and we know how that turned out. And the irony here is that America has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world and is the only nation to have ever used them on other human beings.

When the structure falls apart, the soul is revealed.

This is just a few of the many problems facing America today - and I am not sure that anybody has the cure for all these ills. Some things just may have to play out. One thing I am sure of is that in the 21st century, it should no longer be valid to stand up with your hand over your heart, waving a little Chinese-made American flag with tears in your eyes and think that this is patriotic without questioning these policies and the practices that have been induced on us and on the rest of the world. In a global society, we will not survive by continued unilateral thinking. It will become increasingly difficult to hold your head high and say that you're an American without including the entire planet in your good intentions and actions. There was a time when most of the world looked at the U.S. with respect - that no longer exist, but all the more reason for us to work to become good stewards to the entire planet.

We are living at a unique point in history. Time is speeding up. You can feel the pressure building. Calculations that once took decades now take seconds. Communication around the globe is instantaneous. The Internet has put the world in our lap. We can no longer separate ourselves from the rest of the world. I am not an expert in finances, but it seems to me that with all the money the U.S. spends on bailing out the fat cats, and with the three trillion dollars that will be spent in Iraq, much of it to private contractors and administration cronies, and with all the money we divert to prop up dictators around the world so American corporations can exploit cheap labor and so oil companies can have their way, we could feed and clothe the entire planet. But few in power are interested in that.

Some aspects of this realignment will take place with or without our involvement. Writer, Thomas Friedman, expresses this as "The World Is Flat" - the planet is balancing out. India and China are rising as a global power. Africa will begin to flourish. America will have to find its place in this new scheme of things and the more we make an effort to influence things in a positive direction the better.

I feel that this election will be different from the rest because we are living at a crucial time in history and we do have the power to influence this global re-balancing. But it will take hard work. Individuals have to speak up and get involved on a local, state, national and world level. We can no longer feel like the little guy who can do nothing.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

There has always been a relationship between music and politics. Every country has a national anthem and what are considered patriotic songs. We also have protest songs, anti-war, anti-establishment and pro-establishment songs. These can be found in most genres of music including rock, folk, punk, classical and hip-hop.

For a long time politics did not have much of a role in my songwriting process, although I would occasionally slip in a comment here and there, but only in a line or two, and it was usually some word-play that brought humor to balance out the statement. Back then it never felt right to take a political side no matter how strongly I felt about an issue. But then in March 2003, when the Bush/Cheney Administration invaded Iraq and began its occupation, I felt a growing anger. I was in the studio recording a batch of songs, preparing for a new release. I remembered a song that I had written years before called "What Is Real?" I was never satisfied with the verses so I decided to rework them for this album. The song ended up reflecting much of what was going on at the time with the war and ambiguity in America. I re-recorded the song and was content with the results. Even then I continued to record from my previous catalogue which was mostly love songs and bluesy pop songs. Shortly after, my younger brother serving in the National Guard got deployed to Iraq. This caused fear and sadness for my family, especially for my parents who are getting up in age. I became angry due to my opposition to the war and to my brother's compliance to be a part of it. I felt completely hopeless over how the Bush/Cheney Administration had brainwashed the public and our soldiers into believing that Iraq was responsible for 9/11. How could anybody believe this? I found out that the military commanders had strongly urged soldiers to vote for the re-election of George W. Bush in the 2004. "Isn't this illegal?" I thought. But there wasn't anything anybody could do about it. It was disheartening to fully realize that the Bush/Cheney Administration, and those who goosestep behind them, simply do what they want. Shortly after my brother's deployment to Iraq I wrote "War Song," expressing much of my feelings about the situation and how it affected our family.

At this point I had no intention of making a whole album of what some call protest songs. Even if I wanted to I didn't think I could write ten or twelve songs topical to the war. I continued to go to the studio every day. I recorded a groove that had been playing over and over in my head but didn't have lyrics. A couple of days later I read an article in the paper where a Catholic priest had been interviewed about the war. He said that the war was being fought because of the Military-Industrial Complex and the billions of dollars it would reel in for the Bush/Cheney Administration's cronies. He said, "The invasion of Iraq is the greatest armed robbery in history." That line seared into my brain, throwing me into a heightened state of awareness. I saw even deeper levels of this fiasco. I sat down as if taking dictation and wrote the lines that became the song, "The Greatest Armed Robbery In History."

Even then I was not planning on doing a whole record of these types of songs, but I would include these on the next release. Then Greg Barnhill, a songwriter friend from Nashville, came down one weekend. We were writing songs for a Christmas album on which I was producing a few tracks. I played him some of the songs I'd recorded. He especially liked the ones that pertained to the war and suggested that I do a whole record like this. Having only three of these songs, I couldn't fathom writing eight or nine more. As time went on, and as I continued to watch the news reports, my anger grew. It got to the point where I couldn't sleep at night. I sat up watching non-stop coverage of the rape and plunder of Iraq, wondering what my brother was doing at the time. Was he safe? Is he alive? Will my parents have to endure the pain of seeing a military guy walk stoically up to the front door? My brother told my parents that he had a desk job and would be safe on the base. But I knew better. He was a gunner and crew chief on a Blackhawk - so I knew that he was in the middle of the action.

During those sleepless nights, lines and verses shot around my head like electrical currents – sometime like lightening. Whole songs came in one shot, as if they were pushing through from some ethereal level, but not knowing if they were from above or below. I wanted to work on the old batch of songs, but my heart wasn't in it. All I could develop were these angry, sarcastic songs. I rocked back and forth between confidence and doubt as to whether I should keep going. Some days I couldn't get up the strength to go to the studio. I found any bullshit excuse I could not to go. When I forced myself to go, it was my engineer, George Cureau, who encouraged me to continue on (he laughed at me a lot during this period). Soon I had more than enough songs for an album. Even after it was completed, mixed and mastered I still had doubts about releasing it. I knew that it wouldn't sell and would probably keep me in debt for a while. I knew that very few people would want to hear it, but something kept pushing me. Despite the fact that I had reservations over putting out something so bitter, it felt right. In 2005 it came out under the title, God, Guns & Money.

To my surprise the CD got very good, and in some cases, rave reviews. Astonishingly, it received very little criticism. Only one local guy said that, "The record review section is no place for political discourse, and some would argue, neither is the record bin." But then he went on to praise it because he couldn't deny what he was listening to. I wonder what he thought a couple of years later when a flurry of records came out addressing the war by artists like Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, The Dixie Chicks and Billy Bragg – did they also not belong in the record bin? I never bothered to check if he reviewed any of those.

Of course God, Guns & Money was labeled as an anti-war statement, and I can't debate that, but I still don't look at it that way. I see it as a statement by a songwriter expressing what he and his family went through in a time of war. As disturbing as it may be, the recording marks a period in American history that should never be forgotten. It represents the sentiments of the majority. And in the tradition of writers like Howard Zinn, a people's perspective needs to be left behind to counter-balance the official pabulum that will be written into our children's history books. In time, all my doubts went away. People started telling me how much they appreciated the record. I remember the day that the doubt completely lifted. I was playing an in-store at Louisiana Music Factory in New Orleans to promote the release. I was signing CDs at the end of the performance. Many of the people in line already had the disc and were bringing it to get signed. A woman came up to me with tears in her eyes. She said, "Thank you so much for making this album. I have been carrying around these hateful, hopeless feelings over this war since it began. You expressed perfectly everything that I was feeling and as a result I was able to let go of all this horrible anger." At that moment all doubt left me as to whether I'd done the right thing. Looking back, the only thing I wish I had done differently would have been to hold the disc a little longer. It was released prematurely. As I intuited, few were interested. If it had come out in 2007, or now, it may have had a bigger impact and more relevance. But having said that, I am happy that the people who did get it were affected positively.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

It is important to know who the candidates really are and what they represent. Do some research as to what they are about. Know what is important to you and listen for what others are saying is important to them. There are too many people in this country who judge a candidate by personality. I hear media hacks spouting polls as to which candidate you would most like to have a beer with. Or, who would you most likely hang out with at a bar-b-que. How stupid is that? But sadly, that is how many Americans vote. In 2000, many voters picked George W. Bush because Al Gore got labeled as stiff. Gore was ahead of the game with a book he'd written in 1992 called "Earth In Balance." They laughed at him and said that his warning of environmental changes was just leftist lunacy. Who's laughing now? In 2004, John Kerry got swift boated by a group of scrupulous partisans. They lied about his military record in the most cowardly fashion. They laughed at him too because someone released a photo of him windsurfing. I thought, "What's wrong with that?" But the corporate-owned media ran with it and soon he was labeled as not manly – they said he looked French. What kind of imbecile would think this way? But they miserably exist in all elections.

So, be aware of all the silliness. Don't allow yourself to be influenced by absurdity and folly. Discriminate whether the candidate is speaking from the heart, or is parroting what he or she has been told to say. And don't be trivial in the same way when debating for your favorite candidate. This is equally dishonest. Happy voting!

Porter Batiste Stoltz's next show is on October 29 in Georgia. Complete tour dates available here. PBS has also released their first-ever live album MOODOO, featuring special guest keyboardist Page McConnell.

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Steve Kimock - Steve Kimock Band, KVHW, Zero, Praang

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Steve Kimock
Yeah, it's different. We are at a tipping point. Between the war for profit crowd and the "rather have a couple extra quintillion dollars today than a biosphere in a couple of generation folks," we are not going to have a recognizable United States of America soon or a habitable planet later. We got to get rid of those people before it's too late.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

There's not a very big or direct relationship between politics and anything but business, in my honest opinion. The current state of affairs isn't helping the music any but it's not telling me where to put my fingers, if you know what I mean.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Want to fix the economy? Legalize pot.

Steve Kimock's next show is on December 5 in Colorado with Praang (Kimock, Janover, Travis & Hann). Keep up to date on all things Kimock here.

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Bill Payne - Little Feat

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Bill Payne by Randall Photography
We are at a critical juncture in this country's history. To say we are in uncharted waters is an understatement. In the last few days our financial institutions have been strained to the breaking point. We are on the verge of collapse. The war in Iraq has eroded the United States stature in the world, and has made us suspicious of one another here at home. There is a dedicated and cynical attempt to keep us divided by those whose agenda is strengthened by calamitous statements on race, gender, and patriotism, fed by fear. The emphasis on division is to keep us from voicing our dissent, having us believe that words and fine speeches have no importance, that taxation is the biggest conceivable threat to our welfare (other than the terrorists and their ghastly plots and schemes to bring us to ruin), that our collective future is best secured by an unquestioning faith in government - tied inextricably to our religious beliefs - providing us a platform of inalienable rights as United States citizens to a warped philosophy of unconditional and full utilization of the world's resources for our own prosperity, pointing out the excesses, in areas as diverse as human rights and trade agreements, of others, while patently ignoring our own.

What makes this election different from those in the past is how close we are to losing what this country stands for: Freedom. Where it is not different from other elections is the employment of the tried and true techniques of division through character assassination, culture war mentality (at home and abroad), and jingoism (abroad). "Change" has been subjugated to ridicule, only to be embraced by the McCain campaign as if they had initiated it. There is little in the way of transparency in these attempts to manipulate, through broad strokes, what is the true promise of this election cycle, namely, giving democracy back to the people. Barack Obama is in a position not only to lay claim to history but for us to reclaim our place in this experiment in democracy, which is dangerously close to falling off the tracks. We have never faced a more important election. Vote.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

I don't separate myself as an artist from who I am as a citizen. The fabric of society that I come from dictates what I write about. Politics is intrinsically woven into that fabric. Politics is about people. It is often about the powerful over the powerless. It is about our recognition of a world where words and deeds matter.

In 1980 I wrote the song, "Gringo." "They say blood is thicker than water/ they say all suffering comes to an end/ the common saying for friend is amigo, gringo."

The lyrics suggest our sense of equilibrium, our comfort zone, does not revolve around what perception we hold true of the world. Others have their view, their truth, which is connected through blood ties, experiences, and language. Our commonality is such that it should connect us, but unfortunately separates us when we see and hear only through the lens of our own self-interests, rendering us blind and tone deaf.

The exploration of other cultures gives real meaning to those universal concerns and aspirations, shaping and expanding our vocabulary, providing us the opportunity to enhance and share that part of the "conversation," through our art, that sheds greater light on who we are as human beings. And that includes just writing about things that make us smile, and having a good time.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

When I read Barack Obama's book, Dreams from My Father, a few years ago, I felt there was more eloquence in the first paragraph of his book than anything I had heard or read from the Bush administration in the four years since they had occupied the White House. What struck me about Barack was his understanding of himself, his growth as a human being. Did he stumble? Yes. But he recovered and continued the journey with renewed strength, sometimes in fits and starts, and that's what I liked that about him. He's an intelligent person that has embraced and survived the difficult issues of race, the connective and fragile tissue of family, life's choices and their repercussions, the importance of truly seeing, measuring values and commonality, along with the myriad things that divide us — not just through the egocentric lens of the United States but of the world: where displacement fades with simple curiosity, where that curiosity branches out into an appreciation of other cultures, of other views, of continuing discoveries, sustained by an innate sense of nuance. Barack's inquisitiveness has propelled him on a journey that has brought him to this precipice of history. He brings a kinetic energy and a sobering (and exhilarating) challenge to all of us to get involved.

You have a chance to make history. Barack Obama's campaign is as worthy as the journey Robert Kennedy made back in 1968. I was with a local band from the central coast of California when I performed at a fundraiser for his campaign in May. A month later he was gone. And though the dreams and hopes were shattered, they were not forgotten.

I believe what Barack Obama brings to his candidacy is a renewal of that hope, and a reconsideration of the dream, along with a focus of purpose on what might be accomplished if enough of us truly care and are inspired to get involved. The time has finally come to recapture that feeling of renewal, strength, and common decency.

Little Feat is on tour now, dates available here.

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Keller Williams

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Keller Williams
This election is refreshing, interesting and exciting to watch unfold. However, it is also the same in the sense that I feel the same sickness and nausea I did from the last several elections.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

The relationship between music and politics is strong. Politics piss people off. When people get pissed, they write songs. Have you ever heard a happy political song? I haven't. Unless of course you count my political song, "Inhale to the Chief"... it's an instrumental.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Question everything and learn Chinese and Spanish.

Keller Williams is on tour now, dates available here.

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Ed Anderson - Backyard Tire Fire

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Ed Anderson by willbyington.com
This election is refreshing, interesting and exciting to watch unfold. However, it is also the same in the sense that I feel the same sickness and nausea I did from the last several elections.

It's different for obvious reasons (first African-American presidential candidate, first female vice presidential candidate since Geraldine Ferraro), but I feel the same kind of urgency that I felt four years ago. And I sure as hell don't want to feel that kind of disappointment again. I guess the stakes are higher now than they were in the previous election because the state of the nation is much worse than it was before Bush stepped in for his second term. There is definitely a feeling of "now or never."

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

Music can be a very powerful medium to get a point across. It's universal and can reach the masses. I've written a couple of politically charged tunes, but never really wanted to be the preachy folk singer guy.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Get your heads out of your asses. This shouldn't even be close and the fact that it is, scares the living shit out of me...

Backyard Tire Fire is on tour now. Their next gig is on October 22 in Sioux Falls, SD. Complete tour dates available here.

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Tom Morello - Rage Against The Machine, The Nightwatchman

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Tom Morello
It's clearly a very different election because one of these guys doesn't look like someone on a dollar bill. This is a chance for America to change its image in the world pretty dramatically. Throughout much of the world, we're known as an ignorant, violent nation that uses its wealth power to commit cowardly acts of aggression to increase the profit margin for the shareholders of multinational corporations. I think that image would be extended with a McCain administration. There's a chance that we might be able to present a different face to the world through an Obama administration.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

Bad presidents make for good music, so there's plenty to write about, but I always try to write about politics from a very personal angle. Weaving in the stories of my own life, and from people that I know or have known to make it something grounded in reality rather than rhetoric.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

The real work begins after the election. You can't take for granted the things you want to see happen, will happen. Continue to press and pressure the next administration to make this country, and this world a saner, humane, and decent place.

Tom Morello's next show is on November, 1 in San Francisco. Complete dates available here.

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Jerry Joseph - Jackmormons, The Denmark Veseys, Stockholm Syndrome

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Jerry Joseph
I think every generation likes to think theirs is the most important moment and I am certainly guilty of that. Every election there are so many insanely crucial issues on the table it's dumbfounding as always the things that hold the public interest: flag pins, horny teenagers, Hanoi in the '60s while arguably Rome is burning. Unfortunately, that's been the American electoral experience for my lifetime - 51% voter turnout, I mean please. Two books that helped me get a little clearer picture this past year (paperback by the time I read them) are "The World Is Flat" by Tom Friedman and "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein. If Klein's book is true then this could be the moment we recover from the shock of neo conservative capitalism and fundamentalism. Are we smart enough to see the opportunity? I tend to be more pessimistic. I live in Harlem and everyone here seems to firmly believe that at the end of the day "Americans ain't voting for no nigga." If that's true, then sit back and enjoy the flames, the difference this time is how little will be left to burn by the next election.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

Everything is richer with music in the background. Weddings and funerals and sex and drug use and yes politics. Though there are examples, Bob Marley being the obvious one, of a direct correlation between the two, it's generally an embarrassing joke that people take their political cues from musicians. I mean, not that I'm any good at this, but I make a living jumping around and acting like a 16-year-old. I would be loath to think I had anyone's ear. However, by design of the job, I am delusional every night and think maybe I do have a soapbox and should use it. That borders on the pathetic, case in point: in the '80s all I had to do was say "Free Mandela!" and I was a conscious dub warrior... That being said, I would love to write politically and intelligently, where the songs don't come off like a series of Southeast Portland bumper stickers. Hard to do and I lack discipline. Easier to run around with Immortal Technique blasting out of whatever and hope that covers it.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

You get the government you deserve. If McCain wins this one the only issue will be which motherfucker is holding the marshmallows?

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David Murphy - STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9)

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

David Murphy by Eric Rejman
This election is definitely different than in years past, for so many reasons. Just one that comes to mind is that this is the first election since 1980 that we aren't voting for a Bush or a Clinton. It's time to end family dominance in the White House.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

Politics absolutely affect music and art in this country, as they do in most countries. Politics and the state of society play a huge roll in STS9's music. We see art and our music as a way to reflect upon society and the state of our times. Our music is a snapshot of the times we live in.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Find and demand ways of getting non-biased, non-partisan news and ways of staying informed about what is going on in this election and with ALL news. Education and knowledge are our biggest weapons.

STS9 is on tour now, complete dates available here.

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Lorin Ashton - Bassnectar

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Bassnectar
I think it's human nature to center ourselves as the orbit and the pivot of all current events and circumstances. But I am sure that during Vietnam, or the race riots, or slavery for that matter, elections felt equally urgent and equally severe in their importance. And in each case, human individuals changed the course of history.

I once heard Noam Chomsky answer a question about why anybody should give a fuck about politics when "we" all worked so hard in 2000 to support Gore (and continue the bounty and upward mobility set about by the Clinton Administration) and when we all tried SO HARD to prevent the War in Iraq, but to no avail.

Chomsky had a precious insight in which he said (I'm obviously paraphrasing here) that back in the straight-edge 50's during the McCarthy scare and all that was going on, people were slow to speak out against the government, and specifically the War in Vietnam, which erupted in the 60's. He detailed a timeline comparing the rate and magnitude in which people expressed dissent 50 years ago versus today, showing how in fact the hundreds of thousands of people responding in protest almost immediately these days is such a precious step forward, forward in terms of our ability to organize (via the internet, etc) and make a more powerful impact. These things take time. And we are making progress. And at some points we may not actually MAKE progress but perhaps will need to focus on simply not loosing any ground. It is all an ongoing process, and I do not think it is about seeing world peace in our lifetime; it's about each human diving headfirst into history with an exalting cry of enthusiasm and pushing things in the direction they believe in. And that's the beauty of Democracy.

But do not be fooled. We live in an aristocracy of sorts. There is a rich upper class in control of the big issues that affect the world. For many of these people, their grand father's grand fathers were also in similar places of social stature and power hundreds of years ago. These people do not let go of what they are born into, they feel entitled to preserve their way of life, and it transcends nations and religion and all the silly dogmatic distraction-based modern phenomena that are used to manipulate the masses of people under control of the "upper class." By using the illusion of Democracy, the brain-washing of Nationalism, public school curriculum, TV, and all the media outlets (which are also under control by the upper class of course) 95% of the world's population is kept under control. And there is always the military if other attempts fail.

So it doesn't REALLY make a difference if the Democratic Party or the Republican Party wins the presidential election. Every last one of them is entrenched in this insane system, and although Obama smiles broadly and speaks nice words, he is STILL a politician, and his trust needs to be EARNED.

That said, now is not the time for critiquing the Left. Because what matters right now is removing the neo-conservative mess of corporate-military-fascist-dictators from office (The Republican Party) and replacing them with a party that is a bit more dedicated to actually serving the people.

While the Democrats are not going to turn America from a racist, nationalist, religiously-zealous, uneducated, distracted, misinformed, hypocritically violent and selfish country into a healthy member of the world-body of nations of people, they have A FIGHTING CHANCE of returning our focus from war to health, from fear to education, from UNABASHED corporate crime to semi-less-unabashed-corporate crime...

Look, it is insanely difficult to really discuss these issues succinctly. At face value: YES! THIS ELECTION IS INSANELY CRITICAL. We just endured eight years at the hands of a rouge mafia who stole the election, stole the treasury, raped the constitution, ruled by spying and torture and threats and wars and the theft of billions of dollars and a compliant media that allowed them to do so. We can change this, but at least TWO things must be understood:

1. It takes commitment (time, energy, money, etc).

2. The issues all run WAY deeper than they appear at first. ALWAYS. And in order to really be effective you need to get involved and STAY involved. It goes WAY beyond getting Obama in and the Republicans out. Because as soon as Obama is in, it's time to start leaning hard on him.

The Republicans are the direct face of the upper class... there is no separation there. The Democrats are slightly less threatening by comparison, but at least in theory they stand for the middle class.

And all that trash about Sarah Fucking Palin... god. That woman will say anything and she does. But saying it does not mean it is real. The McCain/Palin ticket is 100% about maintaining control by the upper class. And nobody reading this is part of the upper class.

So it is fair to say if you are reading this, and you choose to vote for McCain (or you choose to NOT vote against McCain, and thus you strengthen McCain), you are foolishly and bewilderingly choosing to support people who want you to sit down, shut the fuck up and keep quiet.

And I am happy to say, that's not me.

I am ready and full of excitement and enthusiasm about this time. What an honor to be alive and ready right now!

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

Let's make a distinction, for me it is about the relationship between music and ACTIVISM. And that relationship between can be anything you want it to be.

It's different for everyone. On one hand, there might be kids on a message board trying to make a point that I should only play music and not combine political issues at all. These are the same people who might be directly affected by the content I am discussing, but they decide right off the bat they favor escapism to activism. These are the same people whose friends will get arrested in the Drug War, whose sisters may need an abortion, whose loved ones may be sent off to fight a war, whose grandmother is getting fucked by her health insurance, whose mother's job may be earning less money, whose father's investments perhaps just crashed in Wall St., whose future kids may grow up under a polluted sky, drinking brown water, or working in a sweatshop to create meaningless merchandise for some Asian or European nation; and they are telling me I should just make music.

I laugh at them because that is so painfully stupid and ridiculous. But I feel even more inspired because it means I just need to pull more weight. If they want to be escapists it just means everyone else needs to work harder. Perhaps they would rather run around taking non-stop drugs and only going to parties* rather than have me harsh their mellow, but I am fearlessly committed to speaking my mind, and making waves. And I believe in myself, which is a good thing. Even better, I am ready to be critiqued because I assume I am misinformed a lot and make bad decisions a lot, so critique helps me improve!

*Nothing against drugs or parties but there has to be a balance in my opinion. And that balance comes from people actively defending our civil liberties. I will work to defend the civil liberties of those kids just the same, through music or other means.

On the other hand there are people like Nas, Public Enemy, The Dixie Chicks, Kanye West, FreQ Nasty, Z-Trip, DJ Quest, John Lennon, Manu Chao, and KRS-One (and the list goes ON) who celebrate the inherent relationship between music and politics. And for myself, I see a direct relationship between music and politics via participation... by strengthening a community centered around positively impacting the world around us. I think that we (people alive today in this culture) are INCREDIBLY lucky. Music is a celebration of that, and it's also a magnetic force that brings people together. Music is also about waking people up... jolting people. People might be pissed off initially right when they are waking up, but I think it's insanely powerful and good to flip the fuck out and interact with other people at the same time.

For me personally, I don't think of my beliefs as politics. I think of them as meaning. They are thoughts and emotions that swirl inside of my electric brain and they come out in many forms. One of those forms is music. Music is this magical language that is so expressive and sublime, and if you want soul-less music (just turn on the radio) then that's fine, but my soul feels very deep and diverse (like I am sure yours does) and it explodes through music (and in many other ways).

In addition, THE ATTENTION THAT IS PAID TO A MUSICIAN is a *whole* different matter. And *THAT* in my opinion is where I have no other choice but to use it as a vessel for my creative thoughts, values, and convictions. I am not making music to be cool, to get laid, to take drugs, I am making it in part because it is a helpless and immediate reflex to the stimulus of life, and in part because it creates a wave of attention upon which I can deliver messages/meaning/content that I feel strongly about.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

1. It is vitally important that you actively educate yourself (though research, discussion, and the fearless exchange of open dialogue, debate, and criticism) because powerful people are working non-stop to keep you misinformed. And you deserve to think for yourself. What better way to do so than to personally cultivate your mind into the sharpest instrument.

2. Nothing you experience in this life is an irrevocable right. And most of what we enjoy in this culture we take for granted, and one day (soon) it could be taken away. Many of these luxuries and rights are given to us on the backs and necks of people who fought and died to give them to us. On one hand you owe it to (THE PRESENT) yourself and your peers to preserve this. On the other hand, do it for (THE FUTURE) your kids and their kids.

3. Read:
-Al Gore's "THE ASSAULT ON REASON"
-Naomi Wolfe's "THE END OF AMERICA"
-Howard Zinn's "A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES"

Watch: www.zeitgeistmovie.com.

And then write a paper on it, seriously. Do not just accept what they say, but CRITIQUE it, analyze it, discuss it, learn more, and GET INVOLVED. And then have your boyfriend or girlfriend read it and critique it. And post it on your MySpace or Facebook and have everyone comment on it, and do not be afraid to learn that some of your opinions are incomplete or maybe uncultivated. BRING IT ON! You have nothing to loose, and everything to gain (and share). If you don't have a boyfriend or a girlfriend and you have a crush on someone, instead of buying that disgusting Axe deodorant you see advertised on TV, try giving them a well thought out paper you write on the state of the world and ask them to critique it.

Just an idea...

Much love and respect,
Lorin

Bassnectar is on tour now, dates available here.

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Hank Williams III

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Hank Williams III
Well, I couldn't tell you if it's different or not. I'm sure it's probably a lot more electronic than it used to be, and if that's a good thing is hard to say. But you know it's not like we the people get to select who we are voting for. We do to a point, but it's selected for us.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

Well some people that are really focused and sharp and know how to poke at the people, some music I guess is able to speak the voice that's kind of unheard of out there. Kind of like how on "South Park" they fuck with everything you're not supposed to fuck with. A real musician, or story teller I should say, can make that happen. Me, I don't consider myself that political. I totally respect the Jello Biafras and people like that out there. But the most political I get on the new record is, "You better keep your eyes on what's going on/ With the government today because they're doing us wrong," just plain and simple. That can be taken a million different ways. The music and political thing, as Buzz from The Melvins would say, "I don't want to know an entertainer's perspective on what he thinks about politics, because most entertainers are fucking drug addict, whore mongering motherfuckers that are full of greed and want to just rip everyone off." He makes it sound pretty funny, but it is what it is.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

I guess just be part of it, but as our vice president said, "We the people, so what? Who cares what they say?" But go out there and still stick with it. If we really want to have a revolution, have those kids study law and keep asking questions that you're not supposed to be asking. Protect our rights as much as possible. I guess go out there and vote and try to be aware. Call out the problems where you see 'em, don't let it get covered up.

Hank Williams III released his new album, Damn Right Rebel Proud on October 21 through Sidewalk Records.

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Josh Clark - Tea Leaf Green

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Josh Clark by Josh Miller
This election, like every one before it, is the present culmination of every election in United States history. To say this election is the most important since - fill in the blank - is missing the point a bit. EVERY election is the most important because what is decided in the present will absolutely impact the future. Ask yourself if there would be such a boundary breaking political landscape today were it not for eight years of the Bush administration. In the end I hope if this election is different than the last two, then it will be different because people show up and vote, and it will be different because our votes will count.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

The relationship with music and politics can be a slippery slope. I try to keep them separated. While there is political commentary in some of TLG's music, we try to refrain from speaking from the stage directly about our feelings, cough... OBAMA... cough. Politics and our future can be such a heavy thing that I feel people go to a rock show to escape that heaviness and just feel good, so it can be a disconnect when you mix the too. On the other hand it can be fucking sweet, look at Rage Against The Machine. Honestly, I'm not well enough informed to be a preacher. All I want is people to think for themselves and make their decisions based on the issues that mean something to them and what they need out of their leaders, not Donkeys, Elephants, and Red and Blue colors.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

I would say get off your ass and vote, vote for yourself if you want, vote for Yoda, who gives a shit, just go out and do your part. Vote goddamit!

Tea Leaf Green is on tour now, dates available here.

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Reed Mathis - Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Tea Leaf Green

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Yes and No.

Reed Mathis by Josh Miller
It's NOT different in that it is a choice between two groups of millionaires and their spokespeople, and in that the outcome will affect millions of people all over the world.

But, it IS different in two ways:

#1: The Bush/Cheney team has nearly ruined this country in every way imaginable. The modern-day Republicans do not deserve four more years of propping up the very rich, bullshitting the populace, and bullying the world.

#2: Obama may not be a perfect candidate, but he's one of the best to make it to a party nomination in modern history, and he hasn't sucked Satan's balls, as far as we know. Also, 145 years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation isn't it time we show the world that white America isn't better? Also, I am a fan of taxing people who make over a million dollars a year, to ease the burden of people who make under $20,000 a year. Also, I am a fan of getting the oil-brain out of Washington, D.C.

These things make this election matter.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

READERS OF JAMBASE: I would like to point out that the Bush/Cheney policies have directly hurt the live music culture, and have made life as a professional musician (an already risky situation) MUCH more difficult, through raised gas prices (=cost of touring), a crumbling middle-class (=money to attend shows/buy records), and fake terrorism protection (=difficulty of travel). Anyone remember how much easier it was to grow a band in the Clinton years?

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Here's what I'd say: VOTE! If everyone of legal age voted in every election we'd have had no BUSH or CHENEY. People who lean away from right-wing ignorance talk a lot of shit, but they don't vote.

"But Reed," you might say, "The last two elections weren't even real! Voter-fraud was rampant in Florida and Ohio, and probably everywhere else! Why vote when it won't even count?"

Good point. The catch is this: if the system is broken and you don't vote, nothing happens. If the system is broken and you vote, it doesn't count and nothing happens. BUT, on the outside chance that the system isn't broken and your vote still counts, if you didn't vote, you'd be just as IGNORANT as the right-wing idiots who live in trailers but still think democrats will raise their taxes.

Also, I'd say "Don't listen to the middle-men. CNN, FOX News, NPR. Unless you're six years old, you don't need anyone to explain this shit to you. Get closer to the source. If you want to watch some political shit, watch C-SPAN. The pundits tell you what you want to hear, what you expect, and promote a celebrity-gossip style of politics. We can all stand to grow up a bit and research things for ourselves. Theoretically, this is OUR country.

Reed Mathis is on tour now with JFJO in the U.K.; tour dates available here.

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Nathan Moore - Surprise Me Mr. Davis, ThaMuseMeant

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Nathan Moore
This is the first election I can recall where I'm voting for someone and not against someone. I will be voting FOR Obama and it's as simple as that. I like him very much.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

My music and my vote are both personal expressions of how I think the world should be. In music I can paint a "perfect world" but in politics I have to decide who leans towards my dreams. I'll probably never see a candidate whose platform is the same as mine would be, but I can choose which baby step seems to be in the "right" direction.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

People come to their political stance from a lifelong journey of upbringing and experience. There's very little I could say that would change a persons mind. Knowing this, I'd be a fool to not take the opportunity to say, "My name is Nathan Moore, I'm a songwriter, and I want to rock it with you all night long!" Yeah.

Nathan Moore's next show is on 11/08 in New York. Complete tour dates available here.

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James Marler - Rotary Downs

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

James Marler
I think what is at stake is pretty extraordinary in that the decisions made by the next president will have a particularly enormous bearing on the country's future. Our financial and security situation is dire in a way that we haven't seen since the 1930s. We are deep in debt and have a plethora of enemies both great and small. Each candidate has greatly contradicted and thereby undermined himself in the past year and a half, so voters are going to have to choose their leader almost intuitively, speculating what each man might do in a variety of hypothetical scenarios. McCain is generally viewed as having more "character" and gravitas while Obama is regarded as having a much steadier demeanor and a keener intellect. On the other hand, McCain is notoriously rash and unpredictable, serially making "gut" decisions (in the manner that often served Bush poorly). The concern with Obama is somewhat the opposite: that he is overly risk-averse politically (as is evident in his hundreds of "present" votes) and may deliberate when immediate action is required.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

As they say, the personal is political and the political is personal, so everyone deals with politics (and a political backdrop) all of the time, from broad scopes (world, nation, state, city) to smaller ones (friends, family, self). I personally avoid blatant forays into song as political stance. I've heard it done well, in a way that gives credit to the listener's ability to reflect and interpret (Bob Dylan, Husker Dü) and I've heard it done in a really dumbed down, patronizing way that makes me cringe (Spearhead, Rage Against the Machine).

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Both candidates have extraordinary personal stories and should be respected on that level at least. Decide which issues are most important to you, who you think might manage those issues best, and vote for that person.

Rotary Downs' next show is November 1, at Tipitina's in New Orleans, LA.

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Tom Hamilton - American Babies, Brothers Past

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Tom Hamilton
Personally I feel that this election is a bit more important than others, but you should keep in mind that this is only the third election I have been able to participate in. That being said, I feel that this is important because there is a changing of the guard coming. Our two options are very different from each other and we all have a say in what general direction our country goes from this point forward by the ballot we cast.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

I think as I've gotten older and I've focused more on the realities of life instead of singing about general shit and clichés, politics have definitely gotten closer to affecting my writing. Not like I'm writing about foreign policy or some shit, but I do find myself paying more attention to the political climate and I'm sure that works its way into the songs.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

Do your research! Learn as much as you can about both candidates and their running mates. The information is out there for a reason so find it! Go to Wikipedia or to the candidates' websites and read up on what they stand for and what direction they want to steer your country.

I think the only thing that is close to as bad as not voting is not knowing WHY you're casting your vote for someone. Just because someone is white or black or has tits should NOT determine who you pull the lever for. In 2008 ignorance is not an acceptable excuse so get educated and THEN cast your vote.

If you've got something to say, head on over to our Politics Forum...

Joel Cummins - Umphrey's McGee

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Joel Cummins by Adam George
While every election has certainly been its own event, we as a country haven't had this many issues unfolding daily leading up to an election day in recent history. The housing crisis and stock market free fall have left many of us wondering what happened to our nation. It's unfortunately very clear that George W. Bush will be regarded as an ineffective leader both in the present and the future. Our country is now mired in a costly war that began based on lies purported by our government, and that government has since turned a surplus into trillions of dollars worth of debt. We are at a crossroads that will determine whether or not the United States of America will still be a superpower in the future.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

The relationship between music and politics can be quite different depending on if you're looking at the music of Bob Dylan or let's say, Poison. For me, I don't really see my music as a place for politics to rear its head. We certainly encourage people to vote and make their voice known, but for the most part, my music and the music of Umphrey's McGee, doesn't have much to do with politics. If anything, our music is about trying to help people forget the rest of the world and have a few hours of pure enjoyment.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

First off, to vote in the first place. Other than that, I would ask, "Are you satisfied with the state of our country? Are you satisfied with the way in which we've been represented at home and abroad? What can you do to help make our country a better place?" This is a time for us to come together and embrace each other as well as the principles we espouse. Embrace those differences between us, embrace change and embrace the present moment.

Umphrey's McGee is on tour now, dates available here.

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Vince Herman - Leftover Salmon, Great American Taxi

Is this election different than past elections, why or why not?

Vince Herman
This election finds us at a major crossroads. World opinion about us is at its lowest in decades. Our President has committed plenty of impeachable offenses. The military industrial congressional complex has us firmly in its grip and a major redistribution of wealth is underway with the "bailout."

Add unreliable electronic voting machines into the mix and the possibility of another stolen election and it's clear to see we are in a dangerous point in our history. The massive registering of new voters is encouraging. We must increase participation in the democratic process among those too cynical to believe we can change direction in this country. Participation is key to this reversal. Let's hope that all those new voters do complete the voting process and have their votes accurately counted. Our future and the hopes of those around the world that look to the U.S. as a beacon of hope and justice depend on it. This seems more critical in this election than at any point in my memory.

What is the relationship between music and politics - and how, if at all, has this relationship affected your music?

Music gives us the experience of coming together as a group, feeling like we are in the same boat. While some political tactics emphasize division and fear, the politics of hope can bring us all together to reinvent our country in a more positive light. I have been particularly caught up in Appalachian politics and the farce of "clean coal" technology. Do some research to see the destruction brought about by "clean coal" in the mountains of West Virginia.

If you could speak directly to all American voters, what would you say?

It's clear we face incredible challenges in the next few years and it's going to take an educated, caring, visionary leader to move us in a new direction. I know who I believe that to be and am mailing in my ballot early. I am also participating in my hometowns political happenings to try to effect things happening locally and encourage us all to do the same. Now is the time for...

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