NC Music Love Army sings songs of politics

dmenconi@newsobserver.comNovember 28, 2013 

From left, Lynn Blakey, Jason Kutchma, B.J. Barham, Kevin McKinney, Django Haskins, Caitlin Cary and Jon Lindsay soundcheck at Kings in Raleigh. The NC Music Love Army releases an album of political protest songs, and many of the players will participate in a benefit show at Cat’s Cradle on Saturday.

COURTESY OF RODNEY BOLES

  • Details

    Who: NC Music Love Army

    When: 9 p.m. Saturday

    Where: Cat’s Cradle, 300 E. Main St., Carrboro

    Cost: $8 advance, $10 day of show

    Info: 919-967-9053 or catscradle.com

Here’s how Caitlin Cary knows that NC Music Love Army has made some inroads: The other side took the trouble to fire back.

The Love Army grew out of the NACCP’s weekly “Moral Monday” protests against the Republican-controlled state legislature, which drew large crowds to Raleigh’s Halifax Mall through the summer. After one of the rallies, The Old Ceremony’s Django Haskins wrote an angry folksong called “We Are Not For Sale” and posted it to YouTube. Soon Cary and other area musicians were joining in with songs against what they called “regressive” actions by the legislature on abortion, unemployment, health care and other issues.

In early July, just as the Love Army was getting ready to record, their work got a response of sorts: “Marxist Mondays,” a rather badly sung parody of the Prince/Bangles’ 1986 hit “Manic Monday.” Made under the auspices of the Voter Integrity Project of NC, “Marxist Mondays” gets in jabs about the protesters being shiftless lowlifes, asking at one point, “Why can't we just live off food stamps and unemployment like we vowed?”

Cary couldn’t be happier.

“The fact that someone bothered to do a song in response to Moral Monday and Love Army actually felt very triumphant,” says Cary, a veteran of bands including Small Ponds, Tres Chicas and Whiskeytown. “And just like the conservative response to Moral Monday was ‘Truthful Tuesday,’ which didn’t seem to last long, the musical response was equally terrible with no legs.”

Even if you don’t agree with the political viewpoint, the NC Music Love Army’s just-released “We Are Not For Sale: Songs of Protest” is a much better musical bet. The album ranges through a wide variety of styles in its 30 minutes, from the bouncy pop-rock of Ben Folds guitarist Snuzz’s “North Carolina, We’re Better Than This” to Billy Sugarfix’s satirical talking blues “Abraham Lincoln in His Grave.”

Cary’s Tres Chicas band mate Lynn Blakey contributes the gently gliding statement of purpose “Army of Love,” which is about the least angry-sounding song on the album. It’s certainly less angry than Cary’s big moment, “My Body Politic,” a spirited gospel-styled sing-along interspersed with raps by Shirlette Ammons.

“The rallies last summer got me thinking that the music community needed to join in somehow,” Cary says. “Of course, then ‘My Body Politic’ came out of that damn motorcycle law (Senate Bill 353, which attached abortion restrictions to a motorcycle-safety bill), which gave me some good fodder. I’d not written a song that fast since my first record. It’s not exactly great poetry, but it makes for a good sing-along.”

Members of American Aquarium, Birds and Arrows, Chatham County Line, Hiss Golden Messenger, Cry of Love, Connells, dB's, Patty Hurst Shifter and Grammy-winners Carolina Chocolate Drops are among the other participants. Many of the players will perform Saturday at Carrboro’s Cat’s Cradle, a benefit show for Progress NC and Planned Parenthood of Central NC.

As one of the project’s primary ringleaders, Cary will be there, of course.

“I’m OK with being out-front as a spokesperson for this, and I’m pretty good at some aspects of it,” Cary says. “The fund-raising part is less than fun because I don’t know how to do it without coming across as begging, which is not how you’re supposed to feel about it. I feel overwhelmed at some things, legal considerations and the hardcore business part. But I feel good about helping make this happen. Everyone involved has been real generous with their time.

“Getting really busy with this may have created a false sense of optimism,” she adds. “But that still feels better than just staying angry. I know everyone is pessimistic about next year, that it won’t change the overall picture. With the amount of fury we’ve seen, I can’t imagine things won’t change a good bit.”

Menconi: 919-829-4759 or newsobserver.com/onthebeat

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