Bonnie and AFSC

on September 27, 2009 No comments

By Lady Libertine

I’ve loved Bonnie’s Raitt’s music for ages. Not just her music but really her whole vibe. Yeah, I love the red headed vibrancy she emanates and her guitar chops kick ass.  She’s right there with the blues and she can bring you to your knees with some of those soulful ballads too.

What I didn’t know was that she’s had a long standing relationship with AFSC.

One of our most famous families of supporters are the entertainers (father) John and (daughter) Bonnie Raitt. Their roots in peace go back to the early 1960s, when John Raitt starred in an AFSC-produced film urging nuclear disarmament.  We present these clips from “Which Way the Wind?” to show that even when things change, they remain the same.

When John Raitt, Marsha Hunt, and James Whitmore made this film almost 50 years ago, the world remembered Hiroshima and Nagasaki vividly.  That memory has faded.  The nuclear threat remains.

Here’s a sweet 2 minute interview where Bonnie talks about her early influences:

As I’ve said here before, my activism was honed in the early 70’s when I was in high school. I learned from some incredibly fine people,  most of them my agemates, and I internalized many of the principles and values of the AFSC.

This AFSC community works to transform conditions and relationships both in the world and in ourselves, which threaten to overwhelm what is precious in human beings. We nurture the faith that conflicts can be resolved nonviolently, that enmity can be transformed into friendship, strife into cooperation, poverty into well-being, and injustice into dignity and participation. We believe that ultimately goodness can prevail over evil, and oppression in all its many forms can give way.

AFSC is the service arm of the Friends and you can read more of the history here, including info about their 1947 Nobel Peace Prize. The Youth Group I was in was very informal, we just called it the “Friday Night Group”. I can’t quite remember how I even discovered it but some of our most basic practices there were hugs and debate. lol. I lost touch with most of those folks eons ago, but… I know they’re out there still working for peace and justice.

Recognizing that most conflicts have their roots in injustice, the Quaker organization has been long concerned with eliminating injustice at home in the United States. This has led to a long history of involvement with Native Americans, Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, migrant workers, prisoners, and the poor. The AFSC helps work with people to organize community action to obtain better schools, better housing, and better working conditions.

Also throughout the United States, the AFSC works continually to create an informed public opinion on the issues of war and peace.

If immigration issues is your thing, go have a look here. (thats for NPK).

As far as activism goes, there’s just tons of stuff on the web and in the world. It’s hard to know or trust. I found this which I thought gives an indication of how strong AFSC is with its walk.

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), an organization founded by Quakers, actively advocates for peace and social justice. The AFSC has worked with people like Matt Damon, Bonnie Raitt, Mimi Kennedy, and Shiva Rose McDermott. Their philosophy for working with celebrities extends beyond just donating, and aims toward building a relationship.

Karen Hayes, a major gift fundraiser, has worked with many celebrities and explains, “The overarching goal is to develop a partnership between the AFSC and the particular person. We have a conversation to find out what that person’s interests are and try to find the most meaningful way to partner. Meaningful for them as well as for us.

She elaborates that “Matt Damon did a poster for our anti-death penalty work a couple of years ago. People have spoken at our press conferences. Bonnie Raitt has raised funds for us through ticket sales to a concert. And a number of high profile people are actual donors to the AFSC.”

The use of celebrities is actually a delicate matter. More so than the publicity shots may suggest. At the end of the day, these organizations are working for change. Involving a celebrity can give the impression that they are more concerned about media coverage. Especially when a group’s mission is rooted in achieving a purpose without expecting fanfare.

Bonnie Raitt with Special Guest Jon Cleary – Benefit to Help Rebuild New Orleans – House of Blues, New Orleans, LA – 3/12-13/2006

Bonnie walks it too. If you go to her website, you’re going to see news about her current tour of course and the usual goodies. But check out her section on ACTIVISM. She even includes links , pretty cool, huh.

Bonnie is as known for her lifelong commitment to social activism as she is for her music. She has long been involved with the environmental movement, doing concerts around Forest, Oil, Mining and Water protection since the mid-70s. She was a founding member of MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy) which produced the historic concerts, album and movie, NO NUKES in 1979. She has been especially active in the fight to preserve our Ancient Forests, performing numerous concerts, lobbying in Washington and getting arrested twice in support of a change in forest policy.

She has also supported groups working for Native American, women’s and human rights, as well as the fight against apartheid in South Africa and U.S. involvement in the war in Central America in the 80s.

As one of the founding members of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation she continues to work for increased recognition, health benefits and royalty reform for the pioneer generation of R&B artists to whom we owe so much. In 1995, she helped establish the Bonnie Raitt Guitar Program, which now provides free guitar lessons to kids in over 180 Boys and Girls Clubs around the world.

Links to online sources of independent media: — Daily progressive news and commentary — An “infomediary” leading readers to sources for information and insight

So… go Bonnie. Go AFSC.

Source: © Copyright DocuDharma

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on August 17, 2009 No comments

“BonTaj Collective Action Fund”
Prospect Park Bandshell, Brooklyn, NY

ANYBODY who believes that ya gotta suffer to sing the blues didn’t see Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal join forces Wednesday at the Celebrate Brooklyn! benefit concert in Prospect Park.

They were like siblings from different mothers — both excellent in their individual blues sets and red hot together in the second half of the show.

Just about every song the two played together had a moment that left fans slackjawed, but if you had to pick a single high point, it was when they fired up Taj’s 1972 hit “She Caught the Katy (and Left Me a Mule to Ride).” Red-haired Raitt’s bottleneck slide guitar work gave the duet a slithering quality, and Mahal lent the piece proper train rhythm with huffing blues harp and growled lyrics.

While each is an accomplished musician, what made the night special was their chemistry.


Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal performing “Comin’ Home” together with their bands @ Celebrate Brooklyn, Prospect Park Bandshell, Brooklyn, NY 8-12-09

Friends make good music together and Mahal, 67, has been pals with Raitt, 59, since the mid-’60s. They’ve never performed together, but you wouldn’t know it from their playful rapport. Mahal got an onstage back-scratch from Raitt, and later he danced to her guitar work with hips unhinged.

Individually, Raitt was a little better than Mahal, although he did knock down killer version of “Fishin’ Blues” that had the fans on their feet.

Raitt towered twice in her solo set, first during “Angel From Montgomery.” She’s sung this John Prine song for 30 years and has made it her signature: When she sang the opening line, “I am an old woman, named after my mother, my old man is another child grown old,” a cappella, it gave you the shivers. That happened again when she unwrapped her heartbreak ballad “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”

The performances by Raitt and Mahal perfectly illustrated what she told the Brooklyn crowd: “The blues never goes out of style.”

Source: © Copyright New York Post

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on August 11, 2009 No comments
By Billy Heller

YOU can think of nine-time Grammy winner Bonnie Raitt’s music career like a circle.

She got her first guitar at 9 — “It was a $25 Stella I got for Christmas from my grandparents and my folks, together, from Sears.” Today, Raitt, 59, runs a guitar program for kids around the country. “We’re particularly targeting girls,” she says. “It helps their self-esteem.”

She dropped out of Rad-cliffe College but wound up being awarded the Harvard Arts Medal, alongside Harvard dropout Pete Seeger. The medal made her happy, she says, “because the last time I was in that administration building, we took it over during the Cambodia invasion [in 1970] and I was in a band called the Revolutionary Music Collective and we played for the strikers out in Harvard Yard.”

The BonTaj Roulet Tour 2009

And she’s been friends with bluesman Taj Mahal for almost 40 years — “I opened for him at Skidmore College in 1971,” Raitt recalls. Now the two are touring together, with equal billing, in a show playfully dubbed “BonTaj Roulet,” which touches down here tomorrow night in Prospect Park, one of the benefit shows to support the Celebrate Brooklyn! series.

Part of the proceeds from ticket sales on the tour go to one of four causes: blues and music education, social justice, environmental protection and safe and sustainable energy. “That’s wind and solar and no nukes,” says Raitt, a longtime anti-nuclear-power activist who doesn’t buy the current thinking about clean nukes. (Check for details about the charities.)

Despite her long history and high profile with a number of causes, Raitt says she’s a musician first, activist second. “People come to see me because of my voice, not because of my activism,” she says.

When she was younger, Raitt hadn’t even been planning a career in music. “Most people really have a dream of being a star, work at their music so hard. I worked at my music, but as a hobby,” she says.

Raitt, who had an uncle who worked for the social-action Quaker group American Friends Service Committee, majored in social relations and African studies. “My plan was to go over to Tanzania and do that kind of work,” she says.

The daughter of Broadway singer John Raitt and pianist Marjorie Haydock, California-born Raitt comes with a certain musical pedigree. But her own music runs more to mixed breed — rock, R & B, folk and blues, with Raitt’s signature bottleneck so flexible, she wouldn’t be out of place in the Allman Brothers.

Raitt came into folk music early on. “I was trying to change the world, sing those protest songs, playing in school assemblies,” she says. “Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and Pete Seeger were my heroes.

“But on the other side, at the after-school dances . . . the Isley Brothers’ ‘Twist and Shout’ probably spontaneously put me into puberty right there.” She adds Fats Domino and Chuck Berry to the musicians she went “absolutely nuts” for, along with The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Ray Charles and Motown. And old-time bluesmen like Mississippi Fred McDowell, for whom she opened at some New York Clubs at the start of her career.

Redhaired Raitt (her white streak, she says, “is definitely the only natural color I’ve still got”) is clearly still enjoying her rockin’ self. “I’ll be 60 this year. Can you believe this? I mean, none of us thought 60 was gonna be feeling like 30,” she says.

Source: © Copyright New York Post

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