Occupy Wall Street Dreams Of A Giant Jam Session May 1


“Band seeking 1000 guitar players. Other instruments also welcome. Influences include Woody Guthrie, Tom Morello, Willie Nile, and Sergio Ortega.”

Occupy Wall Street is raising a “Guitarmy.”

For months, activists have been preparing for May Day, laying plans for teach-ins, bank blockades, marches and civil disobedience. But they’re also looking to stage an enormous jam session.

The Occupy Guitarmy will gather at noon in Bryant Park before joining the march down to Union Square, where the music will begin.

“We will learn, share, and play many songs,” the organizers say, but they’re hoping everyone can learn the chords to five songs as a starting repertoire: Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” Sergio Ortega’s “El Pueblo Unido,” Willie Nile’s “One Guitar,” The Nightwatchmans’ “World Wide Rebel Song,” and the traditional spiritual “We Shall Not Be Moved.”

The movement’s ties to music go back to some of its earliest days in Zuccotti Park—a false rumor that Radiohead would play a free show in the park back in September drew one of the largest crowds the young movement had yet seen. Russell Simmons and Kanye West dropped in. Talib Kweli, Amanda Palmer, Pete Seeger and Jeff Mangum played surprise sets. For better or for worse, drummers were an unavoidable part of the occupied park.

Since the eviction from the park in November, music has continued to be central. Occupy marches are frequently accompanied by members of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra.

Mustering 1000 musicians, to say nothing of wrangling them into a coherent performing unit, seems like a pretty ambitious goal. But it’s a safe bet that there will at least be more guitars on hand than at a Broken Social Scene show or the last song of a classic-rock tribute concert. So depending on how you feel about that, this could either be a lovely communal experience of musical revolt or a great reason not to be in Union Square that afternoon.

Either way, we’ll be there on May 1 to tell you about it.

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