Melanie and I were at home on Election Day, 2016. We had our clown horns ready, our hands poised on the big rubber bulbs, ready to honk Trump off the map when Hillary won Florida or Pennsylvania or maybe Michigan and her electoral total topped 270. And to this day, our jaws hurt from where they hit the floor.
“WHAT NOW?” we asked, our dismay echoing all over progressive America. We’d been planning to spend more time at home, write more songs for kids, grow a garden, have a dog.
Instead, we hit the road harder than ever. Over the next three and a half years, I played 530 shows and we drove over 150 thousand miles, writing songs that rose out of the conversations we had - grass roots, people-driven, struggle-inspired songs. We wrote funny songs because people needed to laugh, poignant songs because they needed to cry, and positive anthems to renew people’s resolve to resist.
And we recorded an album of these songs. RiZe Up.
RiZe Up is a funny and forceful statement of resistance. Some of the songs are timely rebuttals to the hourly outrages of the Trump administration. Some are timeless statements of progressive persistence. RiZe Up is our soundtrack to the uprising we saw taking shape across the country.
The album is full of Folk, Country, Rock, Cajun, Dixieland, even a bit of Broadway, all standing on the shoulders of Pete and Woody. Half of the tunes are Melanie’s and my originals, half are the song parodies that have garnered tens of millions of views on social media.
For this record, we pulled out all the stops.
We recorded basic tracks at Mark Linnet’s studio where I had recorded The Foremen albums for Warner Bros Records and where Melanie and I produced Mickey’s Comedy for Kids for Disney Records. You’ve seen Mark on the big screen as The Beach Boys’ recording engineer in Love and Mercy. In real life, Mark has worked extensively with the actual Beach Boys and countless other music legends and has won 3 Grammys.
The title track, “Rise Up” is inspired by the activism of the students of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in the wake of the horrendous mass shooting there. “This is your world, and this is your time,” says the song, a direct message to young people but also a call to action for concerned people of all ages.
I sing “Rise Up” as a duet with the wonderful Laura Love. Laura is a folk music luminary, author and activist who brings unquenchable positivity to the album.
The defiant spirit of RiZe Up is kicked into high gear throughout the album by the raucous NOLA jazz band sounds of the Soggy Po Boys horn section. The New England based Po Boys, led by vocalist Stuart Dias, came to our attention when we heard their arrangement of my song “Dick Cheney.”
At this writing, it’s been 1406 agonizing days since that Election Night, and we’re dusting off our clown horns for November 3 just 54 days from now. “Can one album bring down Donald Trump?” we ask. “No,” we answer, “but it can bring you up.”
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