By Thomas R. Horn
May 7, 2010
Organizers hope musicians and other artists will use free services to express feelings about social issues
Early in 2009, few paid much attention to the populist Tea Party movement until support groups in every state of the Union and thousands of cities across the US started building the grassroots mission into one of the most influential political establishments committed to fixing "excessive government spending and taxation" through educating, organizing, and mobilizing citizens to secure public policy consistent with three core values -- Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets.
Along the way, the rise of the Tea Party has been compared to the 1960 “Movement’’ that coalesced naturally and spontaneously (as opposed to being orchestrated by traditional power structures) around civil rights and the need to end the Vietnam War. In the ’60s, musicians and other artists like Country Joe McDonald (whose "I Feel Like I'm Fixing to Die" rag mocked the mess politicians had gotten the nation into in Vietnam), played as much a culture-influencing role as did any statesman or philosopher. McDonald's song asking kids and parents to put down their books and pick up a gun because "were gonna have a whole lot of fun" struck a tone with Americans everywhere. The lyrics bit with contempt, including taunting phrases like, "be the first one on your block to have your son brought home in a box. And it's one, two, three, What are we fighting for? Don't ask me, I don't give a damn, Next stop is Vietnam; And it's five, six, seven, Open up the pearly gates, Well there ain't no time to wonder why, Whoopee! we're all gonna die."
But if the ’60s anti-Vietnam War movement was as defined by Woodstock performers as it was by other activists types, the same cannot be said of contemporary Tea Party efforts so far this generation. Sure, local musicians are invited to perform at Tea Party events and occasionally a well-known name like Ted Nugent appears on stage, but it remains to be seen that the "fire" stirring the passion of so many citizens to support the national Tea Party Patriots will translate into equally proactive synergy among artists in forming a coalition of performers who seize the mood of the country and use their talents to dramatically impact contemporary society.
Now, an upstart group of artists backed by some well-trafficked online news sources, is hoping to play a role in changing that, and they don't plan to limit their appeal to politics alone. I caught up with one of these talents, award-winning guitarist, Joe Ardis, on the set of his new music video, Freedom. I asked him why, after several years on sabbatical from live performing, he decided to join in forming an alliance focused on people using their abilities to highlight social issues. I also asked him to explain the overtly political flavor of his new song, Freedom.
TOM: Joe, most people know you as the Wild Man of the Ozarks and co-host of Raiders Live! News Talk Radio. Recently you and some others formed an online community to feature artists of all types, from musicians to stand-up comedians, anybody that has an interest in using their talent to highlight social issues -- from politics to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD). This is sort of a tea-party movement for performers we are talking about here, right?
JOE: Correct. In fact some of our members are Tea Party activists. But our interest goes further in that we want to help indie artists who have something to say about various important social topics get their message out to a wider audience. We really appreciate you directing people toward this effort, and hope other writers will do the same and that some of your readers who are musicians, actors, dancers, filmmakers, photographers, graphics artists, comedians, writers and other talents will join us in building Artist Expressway into a truly global community. The website is already up with more interactive features coming by the middle of May, and people who want to participate can contact us through the site to submit their videos, websites and other materials. It's all free. We also will have Facebook and Twitter accounts up for the many artists to use probably by the time your article is published.
TOM: Sounds exciting. So how did you get started in music?
JOE: I've played music since I was 4 years old and during that time been in and out of various studios, especially over the last decade. When I was younger I was motivated to perform music by the “glamour” of being on the big stage, so I was more or less motivated to write and record songs in pursuit of stardom, like most young rock-star wannabes. By my mid-twenties the reality of how hard most musicians have to work to get noticed hit me. I was playing late night gigs into the early mornings, being away from home a lot, leaving my wife and baby behind when I traveled to perform. Those dynamics compounded with other stresses surrounding my music career and eventually I took a sabbatical from traveling and playing music in public. I guess you could say I got burned out, as roadies do. I never stopped playing music though, or gave up that one day I might return to the stage.
TOM: You've been doing a bit of performing here and there over the last few years, and now you produced this new activist song, Freedom. Tell us about that.
JOE: I wrote and recorded "Freedom" as a result of becoming increasingly concerned about the political climate here in the US. The gradual and consistent loss of liberties and freedoms, socialism creep in this great country, all a result of what I and most Americans now view as an out of control federal government. The trashing of our Constitution and the radical manipulation of the way that laws are being rammed through against the will of most Americans is greatly troubling to me as a father of two little ones.
TOM: So you are motivated by some of the same stuff the Tea Party activists are focused on.
JOE: Yes, but for me I really awoke to my responsibility about six months ago during a moment that literally changed my life. I was sitting at my computer one afternoon, extremely heavy hearted, consumed with worry and fear for the future of my two beautiful little girls. Would they grow up free? Would they have the same opportunities I've had in life to choose how I spend my time? Would they be able to pursue the dreams of their choosing? Or would they be buried alive with debt as a result of poor government policies, would they be told by the government how they will live, what kind of healthcare they will get, how much they will pay for it, and be penalized or imprisoned if trying to opt out or choose for themselves how they will live and what they will or will not buy. Will their ideas be “sensored” by the government. Will they be free to speak their opinions openly? The freedom to believe in their own religion? Will they work longer hours of the day for less reward then my generation was able to experience as a result of the great sacrifices our fathers handed down to us? Anyway, all this was going through my mind one day while sitting at my computer when suddenly in my minds eye I saw my little girl approach me and in her sweet little voice say, “Daddy, watcha doin?” In my daydream, my response to her was “run along now honey, go play in your room, daddy's relaxing right now.” Then she asked, “Why daddy?” and I responded, “cause daddy's tired honey, now run along.” But then she surprised me by saying, “But daddy? Why aren't you fighting for MY future while there's still time? Why aren't you fighting right now to preserve the freedoms you've enjoyed in your lifetime, so that I might have the same opportunities?” The way that struck me, I began to weep out loud like I hadn't since I was a child. Then my thoughts became cynical, and I saw myself replying again, “Run along honey, daddy's busy soaking up whatever is left of the freedoms that were bought for us in blood.” My chest literally heaved, as I wept out loud for the next couple of hours.
TOM: So this was an epiphany of sorts, a life changing moment?
JOE: Absolutely. Based on what I had seen in my minds eye, I went into one of the darkest emotional moments of my life and tried for over two hours to compose myself, but couldn't shake the sorrow I felt for my girls, feeling like they would be inheriting a world much less than they could have had, as a result of my lack of action, my lethargy. What grew out of that moment was the thought that for the cause of freedom in this country, for our children, for the freedoms that were paid for in blood and handed down to us by great men and women of valor, this generation is being given the responsibility and opportunity to preserve the freedoms and privileges of past generations that are now in grave danger. This country is in a battle over its very essence, its heritage, and there are those in power within the Federal government who would “remake” America into something much different than our fathers and mothers sacrificed to create.
TOM: The song "Freedom" captures this sentiment powerfully. Will there be other songs like this by you?
JOE: We are working on a couple other projects and I don't know how much difference my music will have in influencing this political climate, but it is the talent God gave me and I intend to use it to whatever extent I can as a tool for positive change. As some have said lately, the hippies of the 1960s were just a ragtag collection of artists who ultimately helped change federal laws and brought home the soldiers who were stuck in Vietnam. I believe the artist community today has a much greater opportunity to effect this generation than the Woodstock crowd had because of all the mass media tools and internet community tools available to us like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and so on.
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TOM: If you had to give one short sentence to summarize what motivated the creation of "Freedom," what would it be?
JOE: In this country there are those in power who would sacrifice our futures on the altar of socialism. We as Americans cannot allow this to happen. I certainly do not plan to sit idly by, as the song says. It is our time to stand up for something we believe in, and to preserve this great Republic. If not us, who? If not now, when?
TOM: I couldn't agree more, and that is why I plan to make the world aware of you and the others that join the Artist Expressway.
Watch new "Freedom" music video on YouTube!
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Over the last decade, he has authored three books, wrote dozens of published editorials, and had several feature magazine articles. In addition to past articles at NewsWithViews.com , his works have been referred to by writers of the LA Times Syndicate, MSNBC, Christianity Today, Coast to Coast, World Net Daily, White House Correspondents and dozens of newsmagazines and press agencies around the globe. Tom's latest book is "The Ahriman Gate," which fictionalizes the use of biotechnology to resurrect Biblical Nephilim.
Thomas is also a well known radio personality who has guest-hosted and appeared on dozens of radio and television shows over the last 30 years, including "The 700 Club" and "Coast to Coast AM." When looking for a spokesperson to promote their film "Deceived" staring Louis Gossett Jr. and Judd Nelson, "Cloud 10 Pictures" selected Thomas as their spokesperson to explain the Christian viewpoint on UFO-related demonology.