2011 a Year of Focus, Action, and Commitment!   Leave a comment


It has been a big year!

I reconnected with my Phil Ochs, my songwriting inspiration, through the release of “There But For Fortune,” the gut-wrenching documentary about his life and death. I got to perform a pair of his songs the first night the film was shown at the NW Film Forum.  Other performers included Eric Apoe, Tommy Dean and The Gloria Darlings v.20 pandi and Kim Lowings).  I wrote a two-part article for Victory Review (www.victorymusic.org) on Phil, which included a phone interview with his sister, Sonny, a remarkable woman and keeper of the flame.

I learned the highs and lows of becoming an impresario, producing “Phil Ochs: A Celebration of Life” on the anniversary of his death, April 9.  Proceeds went to disaster relief for the people of Japan and New Zealand.  Artists included Eric, Tommy, The Gloria Darlings v.3.0 (Pandi and Rebecca Cohen), Robin Holcomb, Jennifer Spector, Reggie Garrett, and my Switched After Birth compadres, Steve Beck and Steff Kayser.

The show taught me two lessons:  The first was just how much the audience loved and missed Phil.  The second, was the recollection that Phil had been my inspiration and role model for a reason…he used his music to promote change; to illuminate hypocrisy and evil; to make things better for people.  I had forgotten that about my own music, my own voice.  So, I committed to emulating Phil and using my  music and commentary as a personal brand of social activism.

This manifested itself in the two benefit concerts I produced on behalf of the Wisconsin recall elections.  “Washington for Wisconsin!’ (1 & 2), collectively raised over $2,000 which went to three non-profits in the Badger State, actively involved in the recalls.

The concerts were streamed live and we had an audience in Wisconsin and other parts of the free world.  The performers were amazing:  Steve Beck, Karin Blaine,

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Kat Eggleston, Reggie Garrett, Steff Kayser, JW McClure, Mike Pryor, Tom Rawson, Dan Roberts, and Ted Stickney.  Ted, of course also tripled as the sound man and, along with his incredible wife, Suzanne Weghorst, out hosts at Egan’s Ballard Jam House.  legendary Seattle trio, Uncle Bonsai, graciously performed at the second show.

In addition to music, we heard from members of our state legislature,Sen. Maralyn Chase and Rep. Luis Saul Moscoso.  Organized labor was represented by Lynne Dodson and Kathy Cummings of the Washington State labor Council and Kevin Cummings of IAM.

We were also treated to a brief address by Rep. Jay Inslee, hopefully, our next governor, who juggled his calendar to be there.

Among the many thank-you’s we got from our Wisconsin friends, was one from state Sen. Dave Hansen, one of the fab 14 who went to Illinois to resist Gov. Walker’s initial foray into union busting.  For his efforts, he was targeted by the Rethuglicans for recall and crushed his GOP opponent by better than a 2-1 margin.  Way to go, Sen. Hansen!

Putting together these events gave me valuable education in the lonely life of the impresario.  For someone as disorganized as I, the details were torturous.  The people were incredible…starting with Ted and Suzanne who opened Egan’s on a Sunday for our second show…normally the first day of their weekend.  The performers who all stepped up and literally, parked their egos at the door.  Also, those who I did not invite, for the most part, understood the rationale for those who were selected in terms of message and star power.

So what’s next?

I want to work with progressive and union groups to get the message out.  It’s going to take a lot of lung power…there’s a lot of noise out there!

Posted July 21, 2011 by garykanter in Uncategorized

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