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Touring with Ani DiFranco: Hurricane Katrina Media Tour

This was our first road trip with a GPS (thanks for the present mom!). Total virgins. And I have realized that a GPS is an all or nothing commitment. Otherwise you are constantly validating the robotic woman's voice with a map and all the benefit is lost. So you put your faith in the stars (literally) and just drive. I also never realized how unerving the the phrase "calculating route" can be (for non GPS'ers, that means you just took a wrong turn and are "off track" and the GPS is realigining its position on the globe. Typical suggestion: "do a legal u-turn as soon as possible". Our GPS is a Magellan, and we have developed a true love-hate relationsip with it, like any good technology. Hence the title of this blog post. Ok, enough GPS tallk...

We just finished three nights in a row with a great audience in Asheville last night. We had little in the way of expectations, but we have been able to personally talk to several hundred people about the grassroots media projects, added several dozen people to our email list, have given away a ton of cool stickers and cards spreading the OPP word and most importantly really connected with people on what we are doing. People get it!

One term that is definitely finding resonance with people is "Slow Media Movement", which is a descriptive we have been using for our projects. Bascially long term (over a year per project), self-funded, deep and immersive projects that stand in complete opposition to "fast news" of 24/7 TV culture. People seem to appreciate the perspective they can gain from a slower, more intentional approach and all of the HKMT projects do exatly that. 

We have met at least one person at every show who brings events to college campuses and was interested in the Hurricane Katrina Media Tour (HKMT). Our long term plan for the HKMT is to tour it around continually rotating in slow media and grassroots media projects. So the tour has provided the added benefit of finding people who 1) get ani difranco and 2) educate. What a powerful combination.

It has also been good to meet Buddy Wakefield (Ani's opening act and national slam poet champion - the dude is heavy...) and the other helpful people on the RBR team. Our booth is a pretty overwhelming set-up so it has been nice to de-code that for people and give them a better sense of what we are all about. Below is a quick collection of photos and thoughts.

Drive times / Cities visitied thus far:

Day One/Two: Charleston to Toronto - 21 hours. Wow! 

Day Three: Show in Toronto. Toronto Music Hall on Danforth St. A very cool venue with a great staff that made our first night go very smoothly.

We have experienced all three variations of the "booth set up" in our first three shows. Toronto falls into the "card table" category. Very nice for tight crowded spaces. We had a very busy night as the table was right next to the performance hall entrance and there was only one other tabler who was handing out newspapers for the Candian Green Party.

Most shows we can take turns and duck in for a few tunes. The soundboard was right inside the door next to our table. Ani talked about doing a "lobbying day" in Washington DC for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project. How as they visited the senators offices the aides would all ask "what did so and so say?" and that it was all quite high schoolish. That at the end of most meetings they would say "well, you know Senator so-and-so is not really that powerful, we can't really help". She told the crowd: "I was like, oh, Im sorry I thought they were a senator, that they got to vote on like laws and stuff. I must have the wrong city."

Day Four: Toronto to Boston - 9 hours Orpheum Theater in Boston, MA. Right across from the Boston Common, tucked away in an alley like it was forgotten by all the development around it. A very, very old school theatre that was good sized and intimate at the same time.

Setting up at the Orpeum. Here we had scenario 2 "sharing" - sharing a 8 foot table with another organization. There were four of us tabling: Amnesty International, Dennis Kucinich 2008 (Dennis was at the show) and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (

The gentleman to Farrah's right (who we met later in the night and shared our table) is Jay Gustafaro a Gloucester fisherman who was a member of the Clamshell Alliance - the first organization in the United States to oppose commercial nuclear energy plants over thirty years ago. Jay is an amazing guy with with a real intention to what he is doing. He is involved in a project to create a book of photos from that period of activist history; so that it is not forgotten. A very important project. See the website for the project including the incredible photos

Day Five: Boston to Baltimore - 7 hours. Baltimore was the sweet hook up with tons of space behind the booth and a whole table to ourselves! The space was amazing (I can't believe I did not take a picture of the outside) -- a beautiful symphony hall. Met a ton of great people.

Farrah working it at the booth. She can flat pitch some slow media movement.  

Day six: Baltimore to Asheville - 9 hours. A nice corner set up. This was supposed to be a shared 8 foot table, but no one showed up to claim the other half so we floated after the doors open to a full table...nice! Again sharing some space with NIRS and some great folk who had worked on the Kucinich campaign. We had huge traffic at the table all night. 

Farrah talking about the projects. We are rotating playing the DVD's between Katrina Ballads, Social Dress New Orleans and Embedded Artist (Post Katrina Portraits). People are digging all the projects and the media circus give aways. When we have electricity we can plug in speakers (Baltimore, Asheville only so far).

Day Seven: A day off, we just have to get to Atlanta by midnight for the show tomorrow. 

-Posted by Mitchell

Farrah& Buddy Wakefield (poet extraordinaire) sporting an OPP Media Circus T!

Day 8: Atlanta - Our final show before we pass it off to Marcus & Amanda

We made it to Atlanta delirious from travel & thankful for the interesting experience of being on tour with Ani DiFranco & Buddy Wakefield. Our good friends, Beth & Joe came to the ATL show to pick up the tour materials and pass pass them off to Marcus & Amanda who finished the tour off in Durham, DC & NYC so that we could get to our documentary shoot in Costa Rica the next day! Thank you Beth, Joe, Marcus, & Amanda!!!

Kayesha (gets down with OPP) working the Amnesty Int. petitions!

Amanda preparing for the crowd in Durham

Day 10: Marcus and Amanda pick it up in Durham

Day 12: Washington, DC 

Day 14: Final Show in NYC 

Thank you Righteous Babe Records for the opportunity to connect with your loyal & intelligent fans. We met so many wonderful folk who appreciate our work, thanks & peace.




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