Throughout the past year, a rejuvenated entity has taken the jam band scene and many of its devoted followers by storm. I am not discussing the recent Dead reunion, Dead & Company tour, or even Phish’s best year in a generation. What I’m talking about is a gray-haired, balding, four-eyed, seventy something year old man speaking his truth to the masses. A man who has declared his intention to run for the White House in 2016. A man who was largely unknown to mainstream America a short few months ago. By now you must realize I’m referring to the straight shooting Bernie Sanders from Vermont, by the way of Brooklyn. For an old dude, Sanders has pumped new lifeblood into the Democratic Party and the American political system at large. And he has undeniably struck a chord with countless jam band fans and musicians alike, and while not every phan is on board, Sanders is squarely the jam band scene’s candidate of choice for the presidency in 2016.
Back in May, for his official campaign announcement, Sanders was accompanied by the unofficial ice cream makers of our scene, and a band fittingly called Mango Jam. It’s apt Bernie chose a homegrown, local, jam band to help kick off his presidential run, as he is a homespun grassroots entity himself. Likely it’s his democratic socialist ideals that appeal to our community in a large sense. We wax communal ourselves, and often root for the underdog in music and elsewhere, so the more I ponder it, Bernie is the perfect choice for jam band devotees. He appeals to our tacit instincts embodied within our gatherings to help those in need. Our penchant for karma aligns positively with the idea that our society should not be oligarchic in nature, and Senator Sanders seems to be the only viable candidate hitting the nail on the head in respect to this broad notion. Whatever it is that Bernie is tapping into, our populace generally feels it’s the real deal.
And we are not the only ones. Sanders has highlighted a course for this nation that many of the disenchanted and disenfranchised feel we should take. And while some may sense that this guy doesn’t have a holy chance in hell, I can recall an African-American senator with a funny name garnering similar recognition at this very point in the 2008 election cycle. So take notice, and remember Hunter S. Thompson poignantly saying that “if every Deadhead in Florida had voted [in 2000] the world would be a different place.” There’s contemporary truth to that quote, and we as a massive population of jam band enthusiasts have power in numbers. If every one of us jam Sanders supporters voted in the upcoming primaries and subsequent election, the world can be a different place. It’s up to us to get involved.
And jam band junkies across the nation are heeding that call. From a Phans of Bernie Sanders table being set up at the Phish Dick’s campgrounds over the summer, to totems and larger than life Sanders cut outs raising awareness at festivals and shows across the nation, Bernie fever has fallen upon our community, and at no other time have I seen our members be so overtly politically active. Some will fret that politics should not be inserted into our special scene, but since our unique universe brings so many of us together on similar wave lengths it’d be a terrible shame if we don’t use it to potentially change the course of human history. Stakes are high, and we can make a major difference. Remember that. And if you’re not political, but care about our collective future, take a few moments to discover what Sanders and the other candidates are about. If you jive with what he has to say, register to vote at your next show with a Head Count booth. It doesn’t take too much to make an informed vote, and your impact could change the future of the world. Pretty heady stuff. From Jon Fishman to Horizon Wireless, artists are for the first time using their good names to endorse a presidential candidate. While that shouldn’t paint your point of view, such endorsements should encourage a closer look.Our future is on the line, and there are some colossal issues we’ll be facing in the upcoming decades that could forever alter or even extinguish reality as we know it. Our way of life is extremely precious, fragile, and very much a privilege. If you are politically apathetic, I don’t say any of this to piss you off, although I’m surely bound to aggravate some by broaching such a topic. And while far from all of us are on board the Bernie train, many are, and if these words contribute in a small way towards mobilizing our community it’ll absolutely be worthwhile, and I’ll happily take flak from those who send it my way. So if you’re feeling a sensation in your nether regions, a buzz in your heart or mind, a Bern if you will, head to the polls in the upcoming year and make a difference for all of us.
Words: Russell S. Glowatz
© Stand For Jam, 2015