Saturday, August 23rd
We received a call out of the blue
asking if we'd like to play the DNC on Tuesday—the night Hillary
Clinton is to speak. The word was that they had fallen in love with
the song "People" off of Real Animal, and that it
really emphasized the message of the night. Turns out that the
talent producer of the event is a fan of my music, and she came
across the song and thought it was perfect for the tone of the night.
I thought any opportunity to play against the Republicans was a
Monday, August 25th
Traveled to Denver. Met up with Jan
Stabile (management), Heather Davis (publicist) and full band (David
Pulkingham, Susan Voelz, Hector Munoz, Josh Gravelin and Brian
Standefer) this afternoon in Denver. We walked around downtown
Denver, had dinner and took in whatever energy we could in such a
short time. Walking from the hotel and back was exciting, you could
feel the energy in the air. I was psyched.
Tuesday, August 26th
Our lobby call was at 9:30 a.m. On the
way to soundcheck, we had to pass through fairly light security (a
couple of gate checks and metal detector) as we entered the Pepsi
Center. We were set up in a nice green room within the bowels of the
arena. Finally we were called to soundcheck at 11 a.m. and made our
way to the floor, walking through a maze of journalists,
commentators, pundits and politicians everywhere. It was not rock and
roll. Once on the floor of the Convention, they got us situated up
on the podium. As we were beginning to warm up and run through the
song, a group of people led by secret service agents passed right
below us. It was President Jimmy Carter. Since I had contributed to
the Jonathan Demme-directed documentary about Jimmy Carter, Man
From Plains, I was hoping that I could at least extend my
respects. Heather chased after them and somehow bum-rushed the group
and made it possible for me to meet and have my photo taken with
President Carter on the set of CNN, which was a great thrill and
honor because I always respected him so much. He was everything I had
hoped he would be.
We then went back and finished soundcheck amongst
the scores of cameraman, film crews and photographers on site, who
all seemed to dig the song. Once finished, we were escorted back to
the green room and were getting ready to leave when we were called
back to the stage to perform the song again to get camera angles.
That afternoon, we took in lunch at the famed Capitol Grille. After
lunch, two women walked by with "Tacos for Obama" t-shirts
which we coveted and never found.
Making our way back to the Pepsi Center
that afternoon for the performance, there were new routes devised and
escalated security measures were in full force. Once through the many
outer layers of security, we were sent through a final check point
that resembled a border crossing. Everyone had to get out of their
vehicles and all our bags had to be x-rayed before being allowed to
re-enter the Pepsi Center. Once inside, you could feel the energy
level rising—the politician speeches were being given and many more
people running through the hallways.
Finally, it was time to head back once
more to the stage—we'd been back and forth to the stage so many
times that day, even the press were starting to recognize us. As we
were on our way, we were held to the side to make way for one of the
more high-profile politician/speakers, Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid. There was make-up. Then it was showtime. Our opening act was a
long-winded politician from Illinois. We were told to hit the stage
and had five minutes to prepare. We played "People" for the
delegates— Illinois, Colorado and New Hampshire were really into
it. New Hampshire had tambourines and knew how to use them; not
always in the same tempo, but with vigor. The energy from the room
was palpable—thousands of people all the way to the rafters, waving
signs, wearing crazy hats, cameras and press everywhere.
It seemed to just fly by.
We finished playing and I was
exhilarated. I was then told that "Ann" wanted to see me —
it was Ann Curry from The Today Show. We had done the show
about two months prior, and it was great to see her and speak with
her again. Small world—it turns out that her producer had been in
Kevin Johnson's band out of D.C., and we had played several gigs
She asked me, "What's next for
you? Are you going to play more gigs for Obama?" I remember
telling her that I was honored to be part of such a historical event.
It was the anniversary of a woman's right to vote and that an African
American man was about to accept the nomination to run for president
which to a Chicano, who was born in Texas and grew up in the '60s,
was such a special moment. I walked away thinking maybe these issues
of race and gender won't be issues anymore.
Peace and Love