Last month I wrote a column about the Concert Across America To End Gun Violence and I likened it to the great Woodstock festival in 1969 that helped define the popular culture of a generation. But I’m beginning to think that the Concert Across America that takes place on September 25th will probably eclipse Woodstock both in terms of cultural symbolism and political significance because Woodstock was just a big, live concert event with lots of music and lots of bands (and lots of dope) but the Concert Across America is shaping up to be much more.
First of all, let’s cover some specifics. When I wrote my last column, the New York City concert at the Beacon Theater had Jackson Browne, Rosanne Cash and Marc Cohn, but now the program has added the Gospel Choir of Harlem and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, and there may be more artists to come. I also didn’t yet know about the program for the concert at Santa Barbara’s Arlington Theater which is a real a doozie because it includes Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Zach Gill, Christopher Cross and OZOMATLI – I mean, what could be better than that! Boston has a show that will headline Bill Janovitz of Buffalo Tom; Los Angeles has Dan Felder of the Eagles and Ryan Cabrera – it just goes on and on.
I didn’t have time to count every venue but a quick eyeball tells me that there will be concerts, events and performances at more than 350 locations in 44 states. So don’t sit back and think that this is just another one of those highbrow, elitist moments that will only happen in places where most people don’t own guns. Thinking of buying a pair of ECRU pants? The company is a corporate sponsor of this event, as is a little-known transportation company called UBER. Ever hear of them?
These concerts are also being supported by more than 100 organizations representing just about every group that wants to see an end to gun violence here and now. And this is what makes the September 25th event so much more meaningful than Woodstock, because the concert at Max Yasgur’s farm had no political or social agenda; if you could get there it was just something hip and cool. And being hip and cool in 1969 was a cultural statement of some sort, but nobody really knew what those words meant.
The September 25th Concert Across America To End Gun Violence is a much different breed of cat. It has a very clear and very specific political agenda – it is a spectacular effort to increase public awareness and concern about the 100,000+ deaths and injuries suffered by Americans each year because if guns. And it doesn’t matter whether the guns are in the ‘wrong’ hands or anyone’s hands; it doesn’t matter whether it’s an assault rifle or not; this gun violence has got to stop. And that’s what this concert is all about.
Yesterday my concert t-shirt with the beautiful logo arrived and its arrival made me think. The organizations that are partnering to support this event – Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense is now millions strong, Faiths United To End Gun Violence counts 55 separate religious organizations and States United to End Gun Violence is now a collection of grass-roots operations in 31 states. Could these three organizations and the other supporting groups together represent five million or more? That’s probably an undercount.
What I am saying is that the concerts and events on September 25th are not just concerts and events. They also represent what may be the burgeoning of a national movement that will continue to grow and will not only level the playing field but will finally tilt it back the other way. And the other way means to admit that guns cause violence and gun violence has to end.