In the last days of August, Republican stalwarts gathered in Tampa to toast their candidate and cajole the opposition. Then, in the early days of September, the Democrats decamped to Charlotte to do much of the same. Now, as the 2012 election draws ever closer, it’s the time of the citizen -- and The Citizens Band.
The Citizens Band is a New York-based musical cabaret collective that takes cues from early Weimar Republic cabaret and Vaudeville. Past repertoire has tackled the most serious of subjects -- from immigration and healthcare to the financial collapse -- with a tongue in cheek, and highly cheeky social commentary. Now, on its debut album, Grab A Root And Growl, The Citizens Band turns its cheek on the matter of this season's election -- and the voting booth.
Over eight years, the group has boasted a dynamic and changing lineup of songwriters, performers, and actors including Nina Persson (of The Cardigans), model and singer-songwriter Karen Elson and actor Rain Phoenix -- who all appear on Grab A Root And Growl. The album is a blend of vintage pro-democracy tunes like Glenn Miller's irreverent, jazzy "I Swung The Election" and Pete Seeger's witty "Fare Ye Well, Bad Congressman" and pointed originals from the dramatic "Gasoline" to the jaunty "The Debt Rattle."
The record's title refers to the devastating dustbowl drought of the 1930s when farmers in Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle experienced some of the worst of the Depression. While many chose to migrate to California, a small number of Texas farmers chose to stay on in the dry Great Plains. They held on, together, to support each other, to wait for rain -- to "grab a root and growl."
In coming weeks, especially as the vitriol rises and the temperature drops, dig in, as the Citizens Band implores you in "Calling All Beautiful Dreamers": "Show up to your local polling station / and don’t let the bastards get you down."
Audio is no longer available for this feature, but you can watch Nina Persson sing "I Swung The Election" below:
Gretta joined Soundcheck in 2010, having spent several years as a freelance radio documentary producer. Her stories on birders, fishermen, nurses, performance artists and even the Yale Whiffenpoofs have aired on a variety of outlets, from WNYC's Studio 360 to APM's The Story. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Brown University and studied radio production at The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. She was a cellist in the rock band Cursive from 2001-2005.