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Friday, October 14, 2011

Why Musicians Matter to the Occupy Movement

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2011 at 8:55 AM


It's been over two weeks since the protest in SF's financial district commenced -- prompted by the occupation of Wall Street that started almost a month ago -- and four days since Oakland joined this now apparently worldwide movement. As we all know, Occupy Wall Street was outright ignored by mainstream media for the first two weeks of its existence and now that the major news channels aren't turning a blind eye anymore -- they've taken, instead, to playing dumb and repeatedly wondering aloud with wide-eyed faux ignorance what all these pesky protesters want.

On Monday, CNN interviewed some hippie who'd put a suit on for the day

(he was claiming to be Occupy Wall Street's press liaison) about what

the movement was about, and he gave a response so utterly nondescript and

vague, he might as well have cycled directly over to Fox News headquarters to be

ridiculed and pelted with rotten fruit. We're happy to say that

protesters in San Francisco are, so far, proving to be far more eloquent and concise about the cause and purpose of the protests:

Having said that -- and we know this is ironic, given the everyman nature of the thing -- we can't help but breathe a sigh of relief every time musicians show up. Not because they're more important to the movement, not because they're more intelligent than everyone else involved, not because they're necessarily the 99 percent (we all know Kanye's got money to burn), but because for the folk who are still struggling to understand what this movement is about, seeing familiar, famous faces at the occupations makes it harder for them to dismiss the protesters as dirty, crusty, no-good, socialist layabouts, and might prompt them to look into it a little harder.

As we mentioned on Wednesday, Lupe Fiasco has been doing the rounds (and giving some of the most thought-provoking interviews we've seen so far) and Talib Kweli put on quite the impromptu show in NYC on October 6:

Just yesterday, Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello -- performing under his Nightwatchman moniker -- performed in New York two days after he'd done the Occupy L.A. site. His presence is particularly important since he helped shut down Wall Street way before any of this happened and has long been the mainstream go-to music guy when it comes to talking about left-wing politics. As such, his performances are a great public endorsement, as well as a really good chance for him to throw out some eloquent soundbites. Check out one of Tom's fiery interviews here (Danny Glover has a go as well... which is nice): 

Aside from anything else, those dedicated protesters who've been sleeping in the street for weeks now, deserve a bit of musical entertainment now and then. Here's Anti-Flag's Justin Sane spreading the word, and some joy:

So far, musical visits (of the famous variety at least) to the SF protest have been thin on the ground -- though, as we already reported, Occupy Oakland did get a performance from The Coup's Boots Riley last night, as well as from MC Lovelle, Jabari and Ras Ceylon, and 40 Thieves.

But Occupy S.F. has its own ongoing series of performances by dedicated local artists, which has already brought local groups like Foxtails Brigade and the members of Classical Revolution to the site. As far as we're concerned, the more music, the merrier; the louder, the better. Are you listening, Bay Area bands? If you go, the news cameras are more likely to follow and more likely to ask a question that isn't "But what's this protest about anyway?" Occupy SF has a calendar of activities online -- we suggest you try and get on it. 


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