Dave Matthews, Trey Anastasio and members of The Dead are telling their fans to "show up" on election day via a series of public service announcements produced by HeadCount, a not-for-profit nonpartisan group run entirely by volunteers.

The campaign, which includes three 30-second commercials as well as radio and Internet-based spots, will appear on TNT, TBS and other networks between now and election day. It can be viewed at www.headcount.org.

Each fast-action spot begins with images of an enormous concert being constructed, as music is played in the background and a voice is heard saying, "Imagine a giant event celebrating freedom, community and expression; One that captures the spirit of an era, and makes history overnight. A gathering so huge, the whole country is invited..."

Then, the music comes to a screeching halt and the screen cuts to shots of a completely empty concert field, and the voiceover says "And nobody shows up."

A statistic flashes at the bottom reading "100 million Americans did not vote in the 2000 election."

What follows is Matthews, Anastasio, and members of The Dead (including HeadCount board of directors member Bob Weir), sitting in front of the empty concert field, making a short plea as to why it's so important to "show up" on election day.

For the final shot, the music returns and tens of thousands of people are seen cheering for the camera. The entire campaign was shot on location in June at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tenn., making these unique images possible. The background music is the song "Highwire" by the Disco Biscuits, whose bass player Marc Brownstein is HeadCount's co-chair.

HeadCount is affiliated with nearly 30 national touring bands and has registered over 25,000 voters to date. It has a network of over 50 local voter registration teams, and also sent traveling teams on tour with Dave Matthews Band, The Dead and Phish this summer. Both Dave Matthews Band and The Dead made $15,000 contributions to HeadCount to help fund those efforts.

"Having Dave Matthews, Trey Anastasio and The Dead in television commercials and shooting them at Bonnaroo really captures what we're trying to do as an organization," said Andy Bernstein, HeadCount's co-chair and the executive producer of the campaign. "We're using the enormous power of music to get people to the polls in November."

A true grassroots success story, HeadCount has no paid employees, no central office and no major corporate funding. But through the support of artists, a board-of-directors that includes a who's who of live improvisational music, and a volunteer network of 1,500 people nationwide, the organization went from just being an idea in January to being one of the most active voter-registration groups in the country by the summer.

JamBase | USA
Go Vote!


[Published on: 8/25/04]

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