By Alex Shapiro
As I sit at my desk, sunburnt, aching and tired, I remain in good spirits because of the amazing weekend I just had in upstate New York at the seventh Camp Bisco music festival. The event, hosted by the Disco Biscuits (who played a total of six sets over the weekend), attracted a wide range of bands and DJs from the jam-band, electronic and hip-hop scenes. Snoop Dogg, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, MSTRKRFT, the Egg and !!! were just some of the acts that made up the best Camp lineup to date. And, of course, the Biscuits melted faces yet again and cemented their reputation as one of the best bands in the jam scene.
Also present at Camp Bisco was the HeadCount booth, and while it wasn’t making the crowd dance, it was providing another important service: the opportunity to register to vote. Biscuits bassist extraordinaire Marc Brownstein started HeadCount with friend Andy Bernstein in 2004 in hopes of getting more concertgoers involved in the democratic process. The mission statement on the Web site explains that “HeadCount is a nonpartisan organization devoted to using the multifaceted power of music to enable voter registration and participation in democracy.” You may have already passed a booth this summer as they have been popping up all over the music scene at festivals like Bonnaroo, SXSW and Rothbury, as well as concerts by Pearl Jam, the Dave Mathews Band, the Roots and Maroon 5.
I got to “chill briefly” with Brownie this weekend and talk about HeadCount, the power of music and the importance of getting the vote out. On music’s role in affecting change, especially politically, he said that it is “a bridge in which you can walk these ideas back and forth between the fans and the band. And if you don’t think it goes two ways, you’re wrong. Ideas come from the fans to the band and back.”
Brownstein, devoted in his mission to expand participatory democracy, also had a message for the younger generation who might think their vote doesn’t matter: “This is your basic right … and there are a lot of you out there, and if you all come together as a group, it’s not just one vote. … The music community, the MTV generation, the jam-band community, the hip-hop community … we need to step up in polls and exercise our voice together as a group because 50,000 people all going to the polls together … that’s enough to change our entire election.”
So there you have it, party people. If you are not registered and are going to any concerts or music festivals this summer, be sure to look for the HeadCount tent. Get registered. It takes five minutes. To find out more about HeadCount and which bands they work with, head over to their Web site. And to learn more about the Disco Biscuits, jam out to some “trancefusion” on their MySpace page and be on the lookout for their first album since 2002, dropping early next year.