Activism

Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash Continue No Nukes Advocacy As Paris Climate Talks Wind Down

on December 11, 2015 No comments

Bonnie Raitt—who co-founded Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) with Jackson Browne, Graham Nash and others—has roundly rejected pro-nuclear-power arguments heard during the Paris climate talks.

A longtime environmental activist, Raitt reacted to recent commentaries in the New York Times and the Guardian newspapers, calling for a reconsideration of nuclear power as a carbon-free energy source to combat climate change.

NPR reported on the rise in nuclear power advocacy in Paris in a Dec. 1 interview with Matthew Bunn, a nuclear and energy policy analyst and professor at Harvard University.

“Both the United States and quite a number of other countries are pushing nuclear hard as one of the clean energy options that are available,” said Bunn.

Raitt says anti-nuclear power activists stand ready to push back, hard, on “the idea that there’s some new form of nuclear power that’s safer and more viable.  There’s no solution for nuclear waste.  There have been incredible cost overruns and delays” in nuclear plant construction.  And nuclear power plants continue to pose “the security threat of terrorism,” she says.

“There are a lot of smart people on the side of pro nukes,” acknowledges Raitt,  “But I find a lot more people making the anti-nuke argument.”

Raitt made her comments during an interview about her forthcoming album “Dig in Deep,” set for release Feb. 26, which she will be supporting with a tour opening Feb. 22 in Northridge, Calif..   Selected tickets sold on this tour—as well as on tours by Browne, Nash, and David Crosby—benefit the Guacamole Fund, which supports the ongoing anti-nuclear-power efforts of MUSE and other organizations.

More than 35 years before the Paris Climate Summit drew world leaders to discuss how to avoid an environmental calamity, the artists of MUSE used their music and celebrity to draw attention to renewable, carbon-free, energy options, including wind and solar power. (Raitt, Browne and Nash co-founded MUSE with John Hall of Orleans, who subsequently served three terms in Congress, and activist Harvey Wasserstein of nukefree.org).

Muse-logo

In September 1979, Madison Square Garden in New York was sold out for four nights for “No Nukes, The MUSE Concerts For A Non-Nuclear Future,” featuring the group’s organizers and an all-star roster including Crosby, Stills & Nash; Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers; the Doobie Brothers; James Taylor; Carly Simon; and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

That week of concerts concluded with an anti-nuclear-power rally and concert that drew 200,000 to the then-empty landfill off Battery Park City in lower Manhattan.  Among the songs performed that day was John Hall’s “Power,” which became an anthem of the renewable energy movement.

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Harvey Wasserman : Bonnie Raitt Lights Up the World

Bonnie has balanced an astonishing musical range with a message and a way of carrying herself that are firmly rooted in her Quaker heritage.

on September 18, 2012 No comments

By Harvey Wasserman | The Rag Blog | September 18, 2012

Adversity can debilitate and defeat a lesser soul. But for those with the inner strength to make the climb, new heights can beckon.

Along the way — especially for a musician — it helps to have an other-worldly talent, a gift that combines decades of hard work with those inexplicable powers that come from the slipstream of the spirit.

A combination like that can light up the world, especially at jam-packed concerts that become joyful communions.

Now on the second leg of an epic U.S. tour — to be followed in Asia and Europe — Bonnie Raitt has taken it to a new level. Reading through the show-by-show reviews of her performances is like being witness to an ecstatic coronation.

Bonnie’s well-deserved joyride comes after a long ordeal of personal loss. Her parents, brother, and a close friend all passed in scary succession. She has also set sail with her own Redwing Records label.

None of which have shaken her political convictions or willingness to act on them (by way of disclosure, I’ve worked with Bonnie since 1978 and edit the website for NukeFree.org, whose core she comprises with Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, and benefit producer Tom Campbell).

Bonnie’s Slipstream has the trappings of an album made by someone with a transcendent talent doing exactly what she wants — and making it work. The opening song — with which she opened concerts I saw in Indianapolis and near Dayton — is Randall Bramblett’s searing “Used to Rule the World,” an admonition to egos and empires about the immutable laws of karma:

Dr. Feelgood
Sitting on a park bench
Can I get a witness?

For all these decades, through a score of albums, nine Grammys, a slot at the Rock Hall, appearances with Leno-Letterman-Ellen-Colbert, Bonnie has balanced an astonishing musical range with a message and a way of carrying herself that are firmly rooted in her Quaker heritage. A mainstay of the No Nukes movement for more than 30 years, she is not shy.

Last week, while receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville, she told a standing-room-only crowd that this year’s election had become an “auction. The efforts that are going on in our country to actively discourage people from voting and to put up roadblocks to people getting registered to vote” are among “the saddest threats to our democracy to come along in a long time.”

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Saint Misbehavin’

Documentary ‘Saint Misbehavin” looks at the life of ’60s fixture Wavy Gravy

on November 29, 2010 No comments
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Nov. 29, 2010
By DENNIS HARVEY

A Ripple Effect Films presentation. Produced by Michelle Esrick, David Becker. Executive producers, D.A. Pennebaker, John Pritzker. Directed by Michelle Esrick.

With: Wavy Gravy, Jahanara Romney, Steven Ben Israel, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Odetta, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Denise Kaufman, Evan Engber, Calico, Dr. Larry Brilliant, Michael Lang, Tom Law, Jordan Romney, Dr. Patch Adams, Ram Dass, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt.

“Saint Misbehavin'” chronicles the life of one ’60s survivor still flying his freak flag high. Now, as then, a colorful footnote to the era, Wavy Gravy was present and accounted for at a number of the decade’s major moments; purportedly, Bob Dylan even used his typewriter to write the lyrics for “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.” Opening Dec. 3 on single screens in San Francisco and Berkeley, then the following week at Gotham’s IFC Center, self-distribbed docu will primarily appeal to those who still remember (however hazily) the personalities and events on display, with tube sales possible after theatrical play.


Wavy Gravy’s Dream
Gravy still organizes several all-star benefits a year for charitable causes, including funding free cataract operations in third-world countries and Camp Winnarainbow, his own performing arts camp that helps disadvantaged children. See Wavy at his benefits with members of the Grateful Dead, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and Joan Baez. “He’s able to bring people together above all others,” Raitt says. “He’s our Pied Piper.”

Starting Over
Before B.B. King dubbed him “Wavy Gravy” in 1969, he was Hugh Romney, once a poet on the Greenwich Village folk scene — he even shared a MacDougal Street loft with Bob Dylan. “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’ was written on my typewriter in that room,” he says in the film. Gravy discusses how he transformed from underground poet to Lenny Bruce-inspired standup act. “I decided to skip the poems and just talk about my weird day,” he says.

The Wavy Gravy Movie: Saint Misbehavin’ – Official Trailer

wavy gravy full frame

Party Favors: Saint Misbehavin’ The Wavy Gravy Movie Merry Pranksters, LSD & Jack Keroauc – Part 1

Wavy Gravy at the Saint Misbehavin’ Premiere

Party Favors: Saint Misbehavin’ The Wavy Gravy Movie Woodstock and Meatloaf – Part three

Saint Misbehavin Q+A Part One – SF Premiere at the Red Vic Dec. 2010.

GRITtv: Michelle Esrick: Learning from Wavy Gravy

Party Favors: Saint Misbehavin’ The Wavy Gravy Movie Ben & Jerry and Stephen Colbert – Part 2

Wavy Gravy Q & A 12/3/10 (part 1 of 2)

Ian Masters and Wavy Gravy on Background Briefing

Wavy Gravy Saint Misbehavin’

Wavy Gravy Q & A 12/3/10 (part 2 of 2)

Karma Wash Crew Welcomes Wavy Gravy to Woodstock.wmv

Wavy G @ Smith Rafael Film Center, 12-5-10, part 1

Wavy Gravy Saint Misbehavin’ afterparty – a Wavy moment

Sounds and Faces – Traverse City Film Festival 2009

Wavy G @ Smith Rafael Film Center, 12-5-10, part 3

WavyGravyJLennon

Wavy Gravy Saint Misbehavin’ afterparty Ken, Lorin,Will,Dia

Wavy G @ Smith Rafael Film Center, 12-5-10, part 2

Basic Human Needs Award @ Saint Misbehavin’

Subject was born in 1936 as Hugh Romney, keeping that humble given name as he began attracting notice as a poet and standup comic in Manhattan’s more bohemian quarters in the late ’50s. Dawning countercultural vibes drew him to sunny California in 1962, where he promptly hooked up with Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters and started making performance less a profession than a full-time lifestyle, eventually changing his moniker to fit. Calling him “a consummate idealist,” his wife of 40 years, Jahanara Romney, says, “That persona you know as Wavy — that’s who he is.” He calls himself “not a classical clown (but) an intuitive clown,” one whose mission is described by pal Ram Dass as encouraging progressive change by “infusing politics with humor.”

As the hippie scene’s preeminent jester, Wavy helped defuse tension at anti-Vietnam War protests (not without incurring some police beatings); orchestrated “altruistic ministrations” to the hungry, tripping and muddy masses at Woodstock; ran satirical “Nobody for President” campaigns; put together myriad all-star music benefits for worthy causes (an ongoing pursuit); and so forth.

WAVY GRAVY, BOB WEIR and BONNIE RAITT performing for a Seva Foundation benefit concert produced by Wavy Gravy. Still image from the film “Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie,” directed by Michelle Esrick. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

These days, he still lives in the same Berkeley commune he has for decades, working primarily on the kids’ circus-skills retreat Camp Winnarainbow and international health advocacy org Seva Foundation, both of which he co-founded. Musician Bonnie Raitt labels him her generation’s “Pied Piper.”

Notably, there are few interviewees from any other generation here, and those not kindly disposed toward clowns in general may find that a little of this one’s ever-cheerful, ever-punning New Age funny business goes a long way. But nostalgists will discover plenty to enjoy in director Michelle Esrick’s well-crafted package, which makes good use of period songs and archival footage.

Camera (color, HD), Daniel B. Gold; editor, Karen K.H. Sim; music, Emory Joseph; music supervisors, Jill Meyers, Joseph; sound (Dolby), Dan Gleich; sound designers, Dog Bark Sound, Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith; re-recording mixer, Tony Volante. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Nov. 26, 2010. Running time: 87 MIN.

More info:
Variety Reviews
Wavy Gravy net
Covering Media
Ripple Effect Films
Wavy Gravy Movie (Facebook)
Camp Winnarainbow
Plastic Pollution Coalition
Seva But wait, there's more!