Photo and story by LB Rogers / Contributing Writer
Just a selfie, a smile and local polling stations got some Nashville voters a free night of indie rock music Thursday at Mercy Lounge.
Indie artists Tristen, Robyn Hitchcock, Pat Sansone and more joined with organizations Please Vote Nashville and #iVoted for a local Election Day show Thursday night. Aug. 2 was the date of the 2018 Tennessee primary elections, and Nashville voters were prompted to take a selfie at the polls that would grant them admission to the show. To put on the show and encourage Nashvillians to go to the polls, entrepreneur Emily White and Sansone teamed up with Please Vote Nashville, an organization led by Tristen. While a first for Nashville, #iVoted will be organizing these musical incentives in over 50 venues across the nation on the United States’ national election come November.
Indie rocker and former Soft Boys frontman Robyn Hitchcock headlined the event. He was joined onstage by Sansone and David Rawlings of Bright Eyes for a couple of acoustic songs. They played tribute to one of Hitchcock’s greatest influences, Bob Dylan, with a cover of “Tambourine Man.”
Sansone, of Wilco and The Autumn Defense, drew a crowd with an acoustic performance of songs, new and old.
“I don’t have any political songs,” the rocker joked. “Right now I wish I did.”
He and his guitar got the crowd swaying.
Tristen, Please Vote Nashville’s founder, played her set with a full band and thanked voters for going to the polls and for coming out.
“Tennessee is dead last in voter turnout,” Tristen said. “A little more than half are registered to vote in Davidson County, but we are looking at local elections with turnouts as low as 10,000 in some cases. Please Vote Nashville started about four months ago with the hope to create a space for activism without ideology in Nashville. We believe that voting is private but also so incredibly important to democracy. I could personally sleep better at night knowing the decisions being made and the leaders being chosen were picked by the hands of the masses and not a few. This organization focuses on registering voters, educating locals on the ballot and creating awareness about elections.”
Comedian Chloe Stillwell was the emcee for the event. She applauded the crowd for voting, saying, “When I say civic, you say duty. Civic! Duty!”
Other local indie artists like Joe Pisapia, New Man and Lauren Strange and The Pretty Killers also shared the stage. Each eclectic group brought a new rock sound to the voters.
“We couldn’t be happier with how the progress nationwide for #iVoted is going,” White said. “However, people keep asking about local elections. We, of course, know that local elections are super important, but as a brand new organization with a very small team of volunteers, it’s something we figured we could work toward in the future. However, that immediately changed for Tennessee when Pat Sansone connected me with Tristen. I was thrilled to discover Tristen’s incredible organization, Please Vote Nashville, who were essentially doing the same thing for Tennessee’s local elections. We immediately partnered and put this show together for the state’s next local election on August 2. We’ve had folks from Wisconsin to Alaska reach out since wanting to do the same for their local elections and couldn’t be happier that the concept is spreading beyond our work on the United States’ national Election Day in November.”
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