Even Timothy Leary came to realize that his infamous catch phrase from the sixties might have been sending the wrong message. Leary later explained that "drop out" was not meant for people to "Get stoned and abandon all constructive activity." Today, some key love generation veterans are putting Leary's clarification into action.
HeadCount, a volunteer-run voter registration organization, is getting major help from the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir and this week had a presence at fellow Dead alum Phil Lesh's shows in NYC. The group registered nearly 50,000 voters in 2004 through alliances with Dave Matthews Band and other artists, and intends to register another 200,000 voters by staging voter registration drives at more than 500 concerts over the next year. Beyond the DMB, Weir and Lesh, the Allman Brothers Band, members of Phish and newer artists like O.A.R. are aligned with the movement.
“If we don’t protect democracy today, there won’t be a democracy to protect in a few years,” said former Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir, a member of HeadCount’s board of directors. “I think for the younger folks this is particularly important, because the decisions we make will largely affect the rest of their lives.”
Marc Brownstein, bass player for The Disco Biscuits, serves as HeadCount’s co-chair. “This was something we started as a dream, just a crazy idea that we believed we could pull off,” said Brownstein. “Now it’s almost four years later, and we are in it for the long-term. We hope HeadCount leaves a permanent imprint on the live music community, forever getting fans more engaged in the political system and democracy itself.” Timothy would be proud.