Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Jack Johnson and other top artists are donating their music to encourage Americans to speak out on climate change. Organized by the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, HeadCount and the NRDC Action Fund, this collaboration marks the first time free music has been used to prompt Americans to contact their elected officials.
Best of Bonnaroo, a compilation of 17 different live performances from the festival, is available for free at www.Musicforaction.org. Before downloading the music, visitors are asked to email their Senators, the President or their local newspapers about climate change. The music is free no matter what, but the artists hope all their fans join them in taking action on this issue.
"This generation has an opportunity to be remembered as one that confronted environmental challenges and took responsibility for the future,” said Jack Johnson, whose song “Inaudible Melodies” can be heard on the compilation. “With that opportunity comes the responsibility to speak out."
The compilation also includes live tracks from Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, My Morning Jacket, O.A.R. and Ani DiFranco, among others. In most cases these recordings have never before been released to the public, and were hand-picked by the musicians themselves. Other featured artists include: The Decemberists, Guster, Gov’t Mule, Raphael Saadiq, Bob Weir & RatDog, Phil Lesh & Friends, moe. and The Disco Biscuits, whose bass player Marc Brownstein is the co-chair of HeadCount. All of the featured tracks are original songs, with the exception of My Morning Jacket’s performance of The Velvet Underground’s “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’”.
America is closer than ever to passing its first federal climate change-related legislation, but many hurdles remain. The House of Representatives approved an energy bill last June that would reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases and encourage the development of green jobs. President Barack Obama then told world leaders that the U.S. will reduce carbon emissions by 17 percent over the next 10 years (compared to 2005 levels). However, there has been little movement in the Senate, leaving one crucial step incomplete. Literally the whole planet is waiting to see what the U.S. will decide, as India and China are not likely to act without the U.S. doing the same.
With climate change legislation now at a critical juncture, several organizations teamed up to use the gift of music to inspire citizens into action. HeadCount – a nonpartisan civic engagement organization best known for registering voters at concerts – conceived the idea as a way to point new voters toward being informed and active citizens. The NRDC Action Fund – an advocacy group committed to passing legislation that jump-starts the clean energy economy and reduces pollution – stepped in with resources, research, strategic guidance and a base of 250,000 supporters.
“The musicians we work with are very passionate about this topic and have great power to drive change,” said HeadCount’s Executive Director Andy Bernstein. “Their music will serve as a soundtrack for action.”
“Forging a clean energy future means healthier kids, a safer world, and more jobs,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, director of the NRDC Action Fund. “This is our moment to demand that Congress put us on the path to a clean energy future by beginning to address climate change. We are excited about the opportunity to work with musicians and new activists throughout the country to make it happen."
Others involved include the popular music-oriented website JamBase.com, which is actively promoting the campaign to its base of more than half a million users. Music publications Paste, Relix, and Spin are also providing marketing support. The nonprofit environmental groups Oxfam America, the Energy Action Coalition, The Worldwatch Insitute, Grist.org and 350.org are supporting the initiative as coalition partners, as is the music-oriented environmental organization Reverb, which will promote the campaign through its new Green Music Group. Reverb’s founder Adam Gardner can be heard on the compilation performing with his band Guster. "This is the exact sort of thing that Green Music Group was created to support, getting fans and musicians together around an environmental action,” Gardner said.
"There have been so many incredible performances at Bonnaroo over the years,” said Richard Goodstone, one of the founders and principals of Superfly Presents, the co-promoter of Bonnaroo. “We’re very happy that we could work with our family of artists in this way and inspire people to be active citizens. Climate change is the single biggest challenge our planet has ever faced and we all need to pitch in and be part of the solution.”
"The decisions made today will affect you and your children for many years to come,” said former Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir, a member of HeadCount’s board of directors who can be heard on the compilation with has band RatDog. “Whether it’s voting in an election or speaking out about issues like climate change, it’s critical that we all make enough noise so that politicians have no choice but to listen.”