Top Acts Make Anti-Bush Music

Vote For Change tour musicians: Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band, Jackson Browne; Martie Maguire of Dixie Chicks, Steven Van Zandt, Dave Matthews, Bruce Springsteen, Emily Robison of Dixie Chicks, Patti Scialfa of E Street Band, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Bonnie Raitt, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, John Mellencamp, Nick Harmer of Death Cab for Cutie and Mike Mills of REM, 8-4-04 AP

In an unprecedented series of concerts in nine swing states, more than 20 musical acts — including Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and the Dixie Chicks — will perform fund-raising concerts one month before the Nov. 2 election in an effort to unseat President Bush.

The shows, which will begin Oct. 1 in Pennsylvania, will take an unusual approach: as many as six concerts on a single day in cities across the states expected to decide the November presidential race. Other stops on the tour are North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin and the key state in 2000, Florida.

"We're trying to put forward a group of progressive ideals and change the administration in the White House," Springsteen said in the most overtly political statements of his 30-year career. "That's the success or failure, very clear cut and very simple."

The lineup of artists, which will tour in various combinations under the name Vote For Change, is unusual. It includes: Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam; Dave Matthews and Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band; Jackson Browne; Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire of the Dixie Chicks; Steven Van Zandt; Patti Scialfa of the E Street Band; Bonnie Raitt; Ben Gibbard and Nick Harmer of Death Cab for Cutie; John Mellencamp; Babyface; Bright Eyes; and Mike Mills of REM.

The artists of different generations and genres will tour in shows from Oct. 1 through October 8. But the money generated will go to America Coming Together, which promises on its Web site to "derail the right-wing Republican agenda by defeating George W. Bush."

The anticipated millions of dollars will be spent in the swing states before the presidential election, said ACT president Ellen Malcolm.

The shows will be presented by MoveOn Pac, the electoral arm of the liberal interest group MoveOn.org, which plans to offer tickets for sale beginning on August 21.

The shows will pair artists, such as Springsteen and REM or the Dixie Chicks and James Taylor. There will be 34 shows in 28 cities.

Natalie Maines, of the Dixie Chicks, who memorably told a London audience last year that she was ashamed to share her home state of Texas with Bush, echoed a Springsteen comment that this was the most important election of their lives.

"A change is in order," Maines said. "There's never been a political climate like this, which is so the polar opposite of me as a person and what I believe in."

The idea was hatched by several of the acts' managers, and quickly expanded. "Once we started talking to each other, ideas started percolating and other artists started reaching out to us," said Jon Landau, Springsteen's manager.

Most of the Vote For Change artists have a history of social activism, from Browne's anti-nuclear concerts to Mellencamp's Farm Aid shows. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder was a Ralph Nader backer in 2000.

"At some point, you can't sit still," said Vedder, a harsh critic of the Iraq war. "You can't spend your life, when people are getting killed, without asking serious questions about why."

Springsteen said he didn't fear any backlash over going public with his personal politics.

"It's a pretty clear-cut decision in November," said Springsteen, whose songs have provided a backdrop for some Kerry events. "We're chipping in our two cents. That's all we're trying to do."

  • Dan Collins

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