Musicians across the nation unite to end gun violence.
As the media gorge on every opportunity to document gun violence spinning out of control nationwide, the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence seeks to create another narrative, one of redemption and hope. For one night artists and activists across the country band together for a series of cash and consciousness raising concerts to bring change.
We spoke to the co-coordinators for one club involved in the event, ONCE in Somerville MA, about the event and their stake in it..
What exactly is the Concert Across America?
Co-coordinator JJ Gonson: The Concert Across America is like a big nationwide hug. The event takes place on Sept. 25, the date designated by Congress in 2007 as a day of remembrance for murder victims. Including the show at ONCE, there will be more than 350 Concert Across America events taking place across the country on Sunday.
Why was it important for you to be involved in the Concert?
Co-coordinator Bob Voges: I was a teenager in 1968, and I remember that after Robert Kennedy was murdered, there was a lot of talk in Washington and around the country about instituting some kind of controls for handguns. It made sense to me at the time, and I just assumed that new laws would be passed, but they never were. Nearly 50 years later, the gun violence epidemic is worse than ever.
On an average day, 91 Americans are killed with guns. That’s the equivalent of nearly two Orlando shootings every single day. And as a nation, we are so conditioned to this that we only really notice the big events – the Orlandos, the San Bernardinos, the Charlestons — and the increasingly regular murders of black men and police officers.\
I teach in a public high school, and last year the faculty and staff participated in a simulated ‘live shooter event’ in our school. A group of us barricaded ourselves in a physics lab, piling chairs and tables against the door, while in the hallway, a police officer fired blank rounds as he tried to force his way in to the room. The year before that, my teenage daughter participated in a similar drill in her middle school (without the simulated gunfire).
We chuckle when we think of how we used to conduct ‘duck and cover’ drills in the 50s and 60s, as if ducking under a desk would have protected us from a nuclear attack.
But having our sons and daughters, and their teachers, conduct drills in how to handle an ‘active shooter event’ in their public schools is just as horrifying. Just the fact that we have a name – active shooter event – for these horrors is emblematic of how routine this carnage has become.
I think we all feel powerless to do anything to stop the slaughter. It’s a terrible feeling. So when JJ asked for volunteers for this event, I – and dozens of other like-minded music fans and musicians in the Somerville area – put up our hands.
If you feel the same way – powerless in the face of the ongoing, unnecessary slaughter of a thousand Americans every month – I encourage you to come join us in raising our voices on Sunday. We’re gonna make some noise.
What acts will be playing at Once for the event?
The Boston Rock Opera ensemble: Founded in 1993, the BRO presents theatrical stagings of rock operas and artist tributes. The BRO ensemble members include local luminaries Rod Van Stoli, Mick Mondo, Andrea Gillis, Kat Bondi, Jenny Dee, Erica Mantone, Melissa Gibbs, Michele Paulhus, C. Moon Mullins, Mayte Antelo, Destiny Claymore, Clinton Degan, Russ Gershon, Catherine Capozzi, Pete Sutton, Kyle Harris, and Matthew DiMuccio. They will be performing four David Bowie songs and two songs from the BRO’s upcoming production of Hair.
Abbie Barrett & Band: An indie rock band from Boston that describes themselves as a little snarky, sometimes depressing, often weird, occasionally dreamy, but always a good time. Abbie Barrett and band was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Rock & Roll Rumble and won Best Singer-Songwriter in the 2015 Boston Music Awards.
Magen Tracy & the Missed Connections: A veteran of both the New England singer-songwriter circuit and the Boston rock scene, indie-folk songstress Magen Tracy brought her bittersweet ballads and fierce anthems center stage in 2015. With her band, The Missed Connections, Tracy combines her signature soulful vocals, poignant songwriting, and intricate pianos with a strong dash of sleazy swagger and alt-country twang.
Matt Heaton & the Electric Heaters: Matt Heaton & the Electric Heaters play surf guitar instrumentals, drawing inspiration from classic axe slingers like Dick Dale and Link Wray as well as spy, science fiction and spaghetti western movies, often in the same tunes.
Ghosts & Shadows: The vision for Ghosts & Shadows was based on the early Cure records Faith and Seventeen Seconds… except with female vocals. The band consists of former members of Miskatonic and Cheater Pint.
We’ll also have Lily Black, HarborLights, Angry Toddlers and a special photobooth, appropriate to the nature of the event, with photographer Joshua Pickering.\