Welcome to folkVOTE

A Message From Si Kahn

Even during the pandemic, through traditional and online radio, social media, and live streaming, roots musicians still reach hundreds of thousands of potential voters. That’s why Art Menius and I are launching folkVOTE.

Our goal is to harness the power of music and musicians to help get out the vote this November. We hope musicians will:

• Make a brief statement and a song about the need to register and vote available through online concerts, videos, websites, newsletters, and social media.
• Write songs about the vote to use either themselves or by their musician friends who aren’t songwriters.
• Make and post videos of your get out the vote songs
• Suggest historic songs that might fit the bill.

Please send us your voting-related videos and songs

folkVOTE welcomes songs about voting and why we vote from almost all political viewpoints, left, right, or in the middle. Please send your lyrics and links, no matter how basic and homemade, to November3@folkvote.sikahn.com.

FolkVOTE supports freedom of artistic expression, but please understand that the opinions expressed in the songs posted on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of folkVOTE, Si Kahn or Art Menius.

We shall not, however, post lyrics or videos that contain what we deem to be hate speech, racist content, deliberately misleading statements, or calls to violence. folkVOTE is about inspiring people to use the ballot box to achieve positive change through full citizen participation.

To join the special folkVOTE mailing list, please use this form:

folkVOTE Featured Song and Video October 21

“Do or Die” written performed by Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco’s new single Do or Die is a call-to-action to wield the most powerful weapon at our disposal – our right to vote.  In Do or Die, Ani states that we need to “look down at our hands and remember we’re armed” with that power, and that “we can do this, if we try, if we do this like it’s Do or Die.”

The video – directed by Zoe Boekbinder – sees Ani transforming into an advocate for our rights, something that she has been no stranger to throughout her entire life and career.

folkVOTE Featured Song and Video October 19

“VOTE!” [2020 version] by Spook Handy with Tom Paxton, Noel Paul Stookey, Christine Lavin and others

Voting is no laughing matter. Well, actually, it is in this video. But it contains a serious message: Elections have consequences! Help us get 1 view for every American who has died of Covid by Election Day. That means 224,000+ views. 1 more way to let our voices be heard! {LYRICS BELOW}

Artists: Spook Handy, Tom Paxton, Noel Paul Stookey, Christine Lavin, John McCutcheon, Guy Davis, Tret Fure, Emma’s Revolution, Friction Farm, Tom Florek, Dave Rimelis, Dennis Warner, Pat Lamanna, Ron Greenstein, Bob Harris & Cyndy Huang, Eric Lambert, Cheryl Prashker, Carla Ulbrich, Diane Perry, Debra Cowan, Carol Crittenden, Tommy Strazza, Lauren Mayer, Chris Birmingham, Shanna in a Dress, Mya Byrne, Rik Palieri, Carl Alderson, Gregg Cagno, Dave Sherman, Sharon & Greg Metz, Tracy Colletto

VOTE – © 2001 Spook Handy, BMI
When politicians come to town
And kiss babies ‘til their noses turns brown
You can bet your bottom dollar they want your vote

So speak your mind ‘cause believe it or not
This world has become a big melting pot
It’s easy to get yourself lost in the lot
‘Cause the world’s made up of all kinds of people, so

Vote! Don’t you never mind the weather
Get your butt in the booth and pull down the lever
Vote! For worse or for better
Let your voice be heard

We got fuzzy headed peace loving carrot chomping farmer boys
Skin headed neo-nazi face slapping paranoids
Fat cats sitting back scoffing at the tabloids. Yup!

And there’s cross burning, homophobic, church going family types
Flag burning, anti-war, give the poor more types
Out of school, know it all, Cliff Clavin prototypes
The world’s made up of all kinds of people, so

chorus

We’ve got hard working, wisdom sharing, ceiling braking feminists
Pro-life clinic burning gospel preaching terrorists
City dwelling unemployed folks who can’t stand it no more

Sky choking river killing free market advocates
Tree loving owl hugging pro-environmentalists
Urban folk high on hope raising up their clenched fists
The world’s made up of all kinds of people, so

chorus

Now Farmer Josh lives up on the mountain.
Grows his own food drinks from Mother Nature’s fountain
And only gets down into town around once a week

And all the pretty young gals from the near by high school
Stop by his farm ‘cause they think he’s so cool
Chewing on wheat grass and spitting out philosophy

He says, “Looking at life cosmologically,
We’re all cells in the body of the Almighty
And with God-like nature we create our own reality

But down here on Earth, now that’s a different ball of wax
We’ve got to eat – pay all kinds of taxes
And form governments that have laws to pass
‘Cause the world’s made up of all kinds of people, so

Vote! Don’t you never mind the weather.
Get your butt in the booth and pull down the lever.
Vote! For worse or for better
Vote!

chorus

Additional verse by Pat Lamanna:

Now, you can vote as early as the law allows
Avoid the long lines, avoid the crowds
And you won’t have worry ‘bout Covid-19

Even better yet put your ballot in the mail
Don’t listen to no politician’s tale
But whatever you do, do it without fail
‘cause the world’s made up of all kinds of people

Vote! Don’t let the country go to rubble
Take a look at the ballot and file in the bubbles
Vote! It’s really worth the trouble
Let your voice be heard

folkVOTE Featured Song and Video October 6

“Gonna Vote Your Asses Out” by Emma’s Revolution

“Gonna Vote Your Asses Out!” (c) 2020 Sandy O, Pat Humphries (Moving Forward Music BMI)

Award-winning, activist musicians, Pat Humphries & Sandy O of Emma’s Revolution are known for fearless, truth-telling lyrics and melodies you can’t resist singing. Their latest song, “Gonna Vote Your Asses Out!”, is a punchy ear worm that’ll inspire you to get out the vote and make you laugh while you’re doing it. Sandy O says, “We originally wrote the song for a demonstration in early February when the Senate failed to impeach Trump. A couple weeks later, we went into the studio and recorded our parts. COVID hit soon after and, while everything else slowed to almost a halt, Trump continued to do one egregious thing after the other and we had to keep rewriting the lyrics. The Bible photo-op was the last straw and the last rewrite.” The duo then started down the path of re-recording at home, getting musicians to record at their locations and, finally, doing a socially-distanced video. Pat adds, “We’re pretty sure you know whose asses we’re singing about. But, if you’re not, you’ll see some of their smug faces in the video. It’s a long list, so we couldn’t include them all.” Emma’s Revolution is based in Oakland, CA and joining them on the recording and video are a trio of powerhouse Bay-Area musicians: Susie Davis on accordion (Mick Jagger, Melissa Etheridge), Vicki Randle on bass (The Tonight Show Band, Mavis Staples) and Kofy Brown on drums (Skip the Needle, The Kofy Brown Band). The song was mixed and mastered by Daryn Roven @ The Raindrop, masked videos were shot by videographer, Sara St Martin Lynne, and Broadway percussionist/drummer, Steve Holloway, created the video. Another of Emma’s Revolution’s latest releases has already begun receiving accolades. “Our House is on Fire” has been selected as the opening track for Hope Rises, the forthcoming compilation CD from Music To Life, a national nonprofit co-founded by Noel (Paul) Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary. The panel of acclaimed songwriters, Eliza Gilkyson, Janis Ian, Kathy Mattea, Deidre McCalla, SaulPaul, and Tom Paxton and Peter Yarrow, chose the song from 100+ submissions.

folkVOTE Featured Song and Video October 1

Do Something Now – written and performed by Pete Kronowitt

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio…was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.” John Lewis, the civil rights leader and congressman, in the NY Times July 30, 2020 There are things you can do. Voting is not enough. Getting involved in mid-October is not enough. Please donate, volunteer, organize, do whatever bit you can. Here are a bunch of good options, by no means exhaustive. Would love to see your recommendations in the comments too.

https://swingleft.org/ https://sisterdistrict.com/ https://www.techforcampaigns.org/ https://votefwd.org/ https://fairfight.com/ https://blackvotersmatterfund.org/ https://floridarrc.com/ https://resistancelabs.com/ https://www.openprogress.com/ https://colorofchange.org/ https://www.fieldteam6.org/ https://postcardstovoters.org/

Thank you to the many folks who made this video possible: Ivan Rhudick – video production & editing Lia Wesp – graphics Veronica Maund – recorded video clips of and backing vocals on the song Produced by Pete Kronowitt & Spencer Hartling Recorded, engineered & mixed by Spencer Hartling at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco, CA Mastered by Jacob Winik John David Coppola – acoustic and electric bass Darian Gray – drums Justin Kohlberg – acoustic and electric guitar Veronica Maund – backing vocals

folkVOTE Featured Song and Video September 15

The Laborer on Election Day performed by Katherine Rhoda

Though pre-19th Amendment and thus about male voters only, The Laborer on Election Day, from the 1874 songbook The Trumpet of Reform: A Collection of Songs, Hymns, Chants and Set Pieces for the Grange, the Club, and All Industrial & Reform Organizations, is worth a look. Words are by J.G. Whittier, who I assume to be Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier, and music by G.F. Root, presumably George F. Root who edited the collection and who wrote a number of noted Civil War songs. The whole songbook can be downloaded for free at https://archive.org/details/reformc00root This song is #76, on p. 81 of the PDF.

Read more from Katherine about historical songs about voting here.

folkVOTE Featured Song and Video September 10

The F-Word (Fascism) by John Dillon

Not in America, how absurd
We’d never thought we’d have to use the F-word
But rising from the ashes of political mayhem
It’s F – A – S – C – I – S – M
In Madeleine Albright’s book she wrote it
No longer can we laugh or sugar coat it
We’ve got to call it out before it’s too late
This is the American Fascist State

Lie by lie, norm by norm
Manipulating reality’s become an art form
Like the frog, we’ve been boiling so slow
We didn’t even notice we’d fallen so low
What were we thinking, a tv star?
Who bankrupted businesses, and paid off porn stars
We took the bait that sealed our fate
This is the American Fascist State

With Barr at his side they break the rules
Elected republicans say it’s all cool
Unconfirmed puppets, guardrails long gone
Imaginary enemy, battle lines drawn
He’s divided America, wants us to fight
In MAGA country, great means white
Where love and civility are trumped by hate
This is the American Fascist State

Have we passed the point of no return?
Can we not see it, will we not learn?
The American experiment’s gone horribly awry
It’s up to you and me, vote or die
Our democracy can’t take another four years
Of private police and profiteers
We already know they’re gonna cheat
But if we all show up we won’t be beat
Vote everyone, don’t hesitate
Don’t want this American Fascist State
Vote out this American Fascist State
Don’t want this American Fascist State