It did not seem that far-fetched of a question to ask.
The soon-to-be 45th President of the United States of America has had difficulty getting musical acts to agree to perform at his inauguration.
Hearing this, Cape Cod Wave thought: Wait a minute, Cape Cod has some great musicians.
So in our own quiet quest to make America great again, we asked a handful of Cape musicians what they would say if they were asked to play for the inauguration of the President of the United States of America. Specifically, the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump.
While a Bruce Springsteen cover band has famously declined to play the inauguration, John Salerno said he “would be honored to perform for any president’s inauguration, whether he was a Republican or Democrat.”
“It’s a celebration of the transition of power. It should be an American thing.” – John Salerno
“It’s a celebration of the transition of power,” said Salerno, a longtime Cape bandleader. “It should be an American thing.”
But Salerno, who said most Cape musicians he knows are more liberal than he is, was alone among the handful of musicians Cape Cod Wave asked about playing at the inauguration.
“I’d probably say absolutely fucking not,” said Bert Jackson of the Bert Jackson Wicked Trio. In those words? “That’s probably exactly what I’d say,” he said.
“I would definitely say no,” said Craigo Carlson of Paradise Rock. “Donald Trump is a buffoon.”
Julia Randall of the all-female trio, The Ticks, said she would not play. She said that if she played, “I would probably be stoned to death by boxes of tampons by the women of America.”
“I would be tempted by the insane experience of it. Maybe there is a great song in there. Or maybe we would just take some acid and go to see what it’s like. As a rock and roll band, that might be the responsible thing to do.” – Luke Vose
“You work so hard to build your reputation,” said Vose. Performing at Trump’s inauguration would possibly “squander” that by “associating yourself with someone who I don’t think represents the best thing about our country or humanity in general.”
Asked why he would not perform for Trump, Jackson said, “Well, how much time do we have. This guy is in a class by himself.”
But Randall said, “It’s hard for people to turn it down. It’s such a high profile gig.”
And Vose said, “I would be tempted by the insane experience of it. Maybe there is a great song in there. Or maybe we would just take some acid and go to see what it’s like. As a rock and roll band, that might be the responsible thing to do.”
“For someone so obsessed with celebrity,” said Vose, “It’s weird that he can’t get any celebrities.”
In fact, Toby Keith and few others will be there. Many who were asked will not.
“I think those that are deciding not to play, I say good for them,” said Jackson. “This guy needs to have a message sent to him that he really does not represent the majority, or the moral values of this country.”
Carlson said, “the musicians that said no are smart people that aren’t sellouts. The ones that said yes are just clueless.”
“I don’t like the way he speaks about other people,” said Randall. She said the artists who turned Trump down “are taking a bold stand and speaking their conscience.” She suggested that perhaps the people who are playing need the money.
Salerno, though, said he believed “Some are being pressured not to got there by ultra-left groups.”
“I think the people who are performing are doing a great service not only for their country, but for themselves,” said Salerno. “They show that they do appreciate this inauguration as an integral part of the country moving from one power to another, and they are not going to be bullied by people who say they should not appear.”
“This guy needs to have a message sent to him that he really does not represent the majority, or the moral values of this country.” – Bert Jackson
Besides being a longtime bandleader who now performs often by himself or in a trio, Salerno was a longtime high school music teacher who once took a band to play in Bill Clinton’s second inaugural parade.
And Salerno, now an independent, was a registered Republican when he was Senator Edward Kennedy’s private piano player for many years in Hyannisport. Salerno admits that, “The Senator never knew I was a Republican.”
But Salerno said that his job is music, not politics. “I’ve been playing parties and weddings and all sorts of functions for people that may not have the same thought process as I do,” he said. “That’s besides the point.”
Spampinato said he did not care who played or not. “I am more concerned about what (Trump) is going to do,” he said. He does not consider Trump a legitimate president. “I think everyone is being too naive about this election,” he said.
And while the inaugural is fast approaching and the lineup is filled, we wondered who Cape musicians thought should play.
Spampinato had suggested Republican plate spinners.
Vose suggested that Hulk Hogan perform the song written about Hulk Hogan called, “I Am A Real American.” Vose said, “An aging fat wrestler with a hairpiece singing about being a real American. I think that would be perfect.”
And Randall said, “If I could think of any racist, homophobic misogynistic acts, I think they should play.”
Carlson said, “Tiny Tim.” When told Tiny Tim is dead, Carlson said, “A dead Tiny Tim.”
And Jackson said, “I think he should get a Russian band to play. A Russian cover band of Ted Nugent.”
But Salerno said, “Anyone who has been asked should play.”
Once upon a time, the answer was blowing in the wind.
This, again, as always, is once upon a time. And what a time it is. In this world of harsh rhetoric and deep divides, we wondered what is the role of music/art in the culture’s political dialogue.
“Music has always been a part of history,” said Salerno. “If you want to know a civilization, you study a civilization’s art and music.”
Jackson said, “I think art is always an important reflection of society. Whether it is visual art, performance art, comedians, plays or movies. Art is a way for us to take a look back at ourselves and to give ourselves a chance to see what the possibilities are.”
While Jackson sees art as playing a role in the political dialogue, he doesn’t think music will be as prominent as it was in the 1960s. “I think our ways of engaging in this kind of dialogue has changed a lot.” He said that social media is the medium that now gets attention more than any other.
“It sounds like we’re back to 1967 again. We were fighting for peace, for having a loving situation, for people having an equal share. We’ve come full circle. I’m not going to say that I’m going to be writing more political songs, but I bet you’ll be hearing more of them.” – Johnny Spampinato
“We’re living in a different era,” said Jackson. “There’s so much more music. There’s probably a thousand times more music available that there was in the 60s. The way of consuming music has changed…. There are so many ways of consuming music, I think it has eroded the impact.”
But Spampinato said, “It sounds like we’re back to 1967 again. We were fighting for peace, for having a loving situation, for people having an equal share. We’ve come full circle. I’m not going to say that I’m going to be writing more political songs, but I bet you’ll be hearing more of them.”
And Vose said, “In some ways, I think it will activate people more having someone so controversial and such a loathsome individual himself, not just his policies.”
And while Salerno noted the role of music and art in appreciating a past culture, he said, “A lot of artists think they know politics when they should be singing and performing and leaving politics aside. I think the music will speak for itself eventually.”
But Salerno noted, “Beethoven wrote his Fourth Symphony to honor Napoleon. But he ripped up the title page when Napoleon crowned himself emperor.”
And Jackson said, “Somebody posted this thing about entertainers and how they should shut up and play. Well what about Ronald Reagan. He was an actor but he had some kind of thing going on there. It turned out he was a very good politician. Just because you are a creative person doesn’t disqualify you.”
Randall said, “There’s going to be a renaissance.”
Carlson called music “a vehicle for freedom.”
Vose predicted, “I think we’ll have great horror movies, for sure.”
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