By Karynn Brown
Sept. 11, 2017
Sunday night brought familiar faces to 1867 Bar, but for a new reason.
Three local bands played to benefit the newly-formed Lincoln chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. The DSA chapter arose this past May and chose this fundraising concert to kick off their fall campaigns. Root Marm Chicken Farm Jug Band, The Morbs and Jack Hotel each performed 45-minute sets for DSA supporters. The show was free admission with a 5$ suggested donation — half of which benefitted Lincoln’s DSA while the remainder will be sent to DSA Houston to fund hurricane relief efforts.
According to the group’s website, its mission is aimed at “fighting oppression and building democracy so everyone can life a full and dignified life.” The DSA sets out of create social change by supporting the working class. Nationally, the DSA is known for being in favor of reducing corporate power via cooperation, representation and government taxes that encourage public interest. They aim to make progress towards limiting capitalism through empowering labor unions, the rise of the minimum wage and universal health care.
The Lincoln chapter specifically focuses on housing rights, affordable health care and demolishing discrimination. It was recently involved in hosting a vigil in the wake of the acts of white supremacy in Charlottesville and is next focusing on housing rights.
Amanda, a DSA member, spoke about their housing reform goals during a break in the show. She highlighted the need for protecting tenants against exploitive landlords by creating a landlord directory, as well as creating a community of renters run by neighborhood block captains. These leaders would be a resource for renter-tenant conflict resolution as well as social event organizing. A meeting is set to take place at The Commons, 1239 S. 14th St., on the first Thursday of each month to open discussion and action in housing reform.
During the first intermission, DSA Chair Erika Paschold gave a round of thanks, then opened the floor to a conversation about democratic socialism. The audience responded with excitement and support at the chance to share what they loved about democracy, socialism and what can be done to change America.
Dialogue between performers, DSA members and the audience was thoughtful and informative. Paschold’s leading question, “What’s good about democracy?” received strong responses such as, “it works!,” “power to the people” and “fascism is boring.” During the discussion, Paschold highlighted the role of Lincoln’s DSA chapter as an intersectional, multi-issue, non-party based group focusing on helping people live full and dignified lives.
Paschold noted, “How can you live a full life if you can’t get hired because of your sexual orientation? Or if you’re constantly threatened by police brutality?”
Paschold said that donations raised at the event will be put toward funding the general expenses of the DSA chapter such as venue fees, food and guest speakers. Half of all money raised last night will be sent to DSA Houston, where that group is funding hurricane relief efforts, focusing on immigrant and undocumented populations, which often go underserved in such disasters. The DSA hopes to be able to establish a contact in Florida to provide support in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
The eight-member Root Marm Chicken Farm Jug Band started off the evening with lively folk and roots-rock tunes. The band’s eclectic and upbeat style created a welcoming atmosphere to help open the event. Root Marm played a variety of pieces, most of the songs coming from a recent EP release. These included “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens”, and “Die With A Guitar I My Hands”. Root Marm’s style is lighthearted and fun, their songs full of a bluesy twang punctuated with all the chicken and animals noises one could ask for. It’s the kind of music you can gather around, whether that be on family road trips, at summer festivals, or for the DSA.
Root Marm Chicken Farm Jug Band can perform with any collection of three to eleven members, all playing various folk instruments, many of which are homemade. Their classic sound comes from a wide range of musicians and instruments, from the tub bass to the saxophone. Emily, a drummer with the Root Marm serves as DSA Lincoln’s social outreach chair.
The second band of the evening was The Morbs, a three-piece all-female punk group from Lincoln and Omaha. The only non-folk band of the event, The Morbs got connected with the DSA via Root Marm Chicken Farm Jug Band members that encouraged them to play. The women played songs from their full length album, Morbs Attack, released in May of this year, and several singles from February of 2016.
The Morbs’ sound is full of spunk and anxiousness created by heavy drums, lead guitar and distorted synth. A side project for all three members, Maya, Chelsea and Monica came together to create The Morbs to start something fun and different. Monica and Chelsea would alternate songs on the drum kit, allowing their skills with the drums, guitar, bass and vocals to really be experienced. Chelsea’s high-pitched voice and nonstop energy gave the band a grunge-esque attitude. All three women vocally supported the DSA while on stage with shouts of “Go Socialism!”, and “Do it for Socialism!” before nearly every song, and an attempt to keep the pro-democracy, pro-socialism conversation going during a tuning break.
Headliner Jack Hotel closed out the night, starting the final set near 9:30 pm. The four-member folk/Americana band played songs mostly from their latest release, Voices from the Moon. Their music relies on a soulful and poetic style of folk ballad that enraptures any audience.
Jack Hotel provided the perfect mix of poignancy and movement that resonated with the DSA’s message and members. The final song of the evening was a democratic socialist sing-along to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” A DSA member passed out lyric sheets just before the end of the show, encouraging audience members to sing along with “Socialism Forever”. The song included verses such as “When the union’s inspiration through the workers’ blood shall run/There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun”, and a chorus of “Solidarity forever/for the union makes us strong”.
Karynn Brown is a KZUM editorial intern.