Those who plan to skip town during the Republican National Convention will miss a lot of great music. Artists from around the block and around the country, representing most every style, several shows represent a united front of great music and concerted action in the face of one of the most important political events ever to take place in the Twin Cities.
One of the locally-grown events taking place during the RNC is Ripple Effect, which will be held on the Capital Mall, within earshot of the Xcel Energy Center, on September 2 from 12:30 to 7:00 p.m. Free to all, the event is organized by Substance, an organization founded by three University of Minnesota undergraduate activists—Jim Forrey, Nolan Morice, and Erick Boustead—in the fall of 2007.
|Here are a number of other musical happenings going on either before or during the RNC.
Eight is Enough: A Concert to End Our National Nightmare
Welcome to the Neighborhood Block Party
SEIU’s Take Back Labor Day Festival
ProVention Concert for People, Peace, and the Planet
The Electorate Fetus
Rage Against the Machine
Morice considers Ripple Effect, which has been in the works since December of 2007, a “massive leap” for Substance, which to this point has focused its efforts on smaller-scale shows and events. These have included a block party to support the Sojourner Truth house in North Minneapolis as well as Actifest, held last spring on the University of Minnesota campus to strengthen connections among activist organizations of various stripes.
Morice says that one of the ideas motivating Ripple Effect—as with many of the concerts scheduled to coincide with the RNC—is the integration of action with art and music. “Art, music, and activism don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” Morice says. “You don’t have to just go onstage and preach and hope that people go out and do something.”
The majority of the artists performing at Ripple Effect have roots in hip-hop or spoken word. Twin Cities hip-hop legend and community activist I Self Devine will perform, as will Indigo, artists from the TrúRúts multidisciplinary arts organization, and DJ K-Salaam—the Iranian-American DJ who is returning to Minneapolis, a place he called home for a number of years before bouncing to New York.
Nationally-known artists performing at Ripple Effect include Michael Franti (of Spearhead fame), the Hasidic MC Matisyahu, dead prez—one of the most radical hip-hop duos, backing up its revolutionary rhetoric with action—and activist-punk icons Anti-Flag. Integrated into the day-long concert will be speeches from a number of internationally-known activists including explorer and environmental activist Will Steger; Native American activist Winona LaDuke; and Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink and Global Exchange, who will facilitate a number of workshops asociated with the event. The event will be environmentally friendly, with the organizers using compost sites (instead of trash bins) and solar generators, and purchasing carbon offsets for the footprint incurred by flying artists to St. Paul.
Morice sees Ripple Effect as harnessing and building upon the already-considerable activist communities of the Twin Cities, both during and after the RNC. “We want to get people active as well as get people to talk with each other. We want there to be some productive conversations and some good things happening in general.” He believes that while many activists on the left are “all working on the same basic premise, they’re not working on it in the same exact ways. We’re all out there for the same reason.”
Justin Schell is a freelance writer and a grad student at the University of Minnesota’s Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society program. He’s working on a dissertation on Twin Cities immigrant and diasporic hip-hop and plays the washboard tie with The Gated Community.