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The Greatest Activist Musician in History: Bob Marley

DEC 2, 2013 - I watched the new Magnolia Pictures film "Marley" about the life of reggae music artist Bob Marley on VH1 Palladia on my DVR over the weekend, and it was awesome. The director, Kevin MacDonald, takes you on a journey to really let you know who the man was behind the music you know so well. I have always had respect and admiration for Bob Marley and what he accomplished in his short life, but after seeing this film I realized he was in my opinion the greatest activist musician ever. From handing out wads of cash to any poor person who would wander into his villa, to getting the two political candidates running for office in the violent and deadly 1970s Jamaican politics to hold hands and call for peace between the two sides on stage at one of his concerts, he was truly an outstanding individual.

Bob had a unique perspective on life, being born as a so-called "mix-raced" child. His father, Norval Marley, was European, who had a brief affair with Cedella Booker. His father never played a role in his life, and the rejection hurt Bob and he wrote the song "Cornerstone" with the lyrics, "The stone that the builder refuse, will always be the head cornerstone..." that many believe he was referencing to. He eventually discovered music, and formed "The Wailers" and became hugely popular and successful in Jamaica. Bob wanted to spread the word of Reggae, love and spirituality through his music, and make it accessible for the entire world. So, he set up a new band called "Bob Marley and the Wailers", and like a preacher on a revival tour he took the world by storm. Whirling on stage like a wizard or a priest, he captivated millions of people all over the world with his great music and message of hope and love. He still affects millions of people's lives to this day. 

When the 1970s politics got violent and deadly, Bob cooperated with the Jamaican government and held a "Peace Concert" and stopped the bloodshed. He held another peace concert in Zimbabwe when they got their independence, being attacked with tear gas while on stage. He spoke about activism many times in his songs such as "Get Up, Stand Up", but he seemed to me not a person that wanted to take sides, he just wanted everyone to work out things peacefully and just get along. His main message was get active and get involved in non-violent action and "Stand up for your rights"; like registering to vote and voting. Watch this great film "Marley" from Magnolia pictures (the trailer is below) and I think you will agree he is an amazing person, and deserves the title of "Greatest Activist Musician of All Time". It is making the rounds on VH1 Palladia and Netflix, or you can order the Blu-Ray or DVD at the official film's site here.  (photo credit: Ueli Frey/CC)

Not "Selfies", Take an "UNSelfie"!

DEC 2, 2013 - JTMP wants to remind everyone that tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, a project set up to urge the community to come together and give to charities, will be tomorrow. President Obama's special assistant Jonathan Greenblatt, wrote a post on the White House blog explaining it and endorsing it. The campaign, started by United Nations Foundation and 92d St Y, asks individuals, businesses and whomever to remember to be thankful for the plenty you have and to give back to the community especially during the holiday season. Part of the fun is, instead of taking a "selfie" photo with your cell phone, take an "un-selfie" (unselfish, get it?) with you holding a sign telling everyone what you will do that day to make a difference in the world, and use the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #UNselfie". Check out the Giving Tuesday website here.

Sleater-Kinney Reunite At Pearl Jam Show

DEC 2, 2012 - Sleater-Kinney, the alt-rock girl activist band that JTMP featured back in 2006 when we were just getting started, reunited at a Portland, Oregon Pearl Jam show last Friday night. This was the first time they had been together on stage live since 2006, and they jammed out to the Neil Young song "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World". Watch the YouTube video below. Make sure you check out JTMP"s YouTube Channel, and also check out JTMP's Facebook Page. Watch an early JTMP Voting PSA below that, with a clip of Sleater-Kinney asking the audience if people will be voting in the next election. JTMP hopes all our supporters are.

Phil Och's Sister Sonny Keeps Phil's Music Alive

NOV 27, 2013 - Phil Ochs, one of the most legendary activist musicians from the 1960s, is being honored and remembered by his sister Sonny and a New England band tour of several great musicians such as Greg Greenway, David Roth, Pat Wictor, Zoe Lewis and Sharon Katz. They play Phil's classic folk songs and anti-war ballads such as "I Ain't Marching Anymore" and "Is There Anybody Here?" in several locations throughout New England. Activism played a huge role in Phil's life, and he was very strong in his convictions and used the folk music scene of the 1960s to express his views through his music. Read about his amazing life and unfortunate fall with depression on his Wikipedia page, and watch him sing his anti-war folk song classic "I Ain't Marching Anymore" below. Read a great article on the tour and Phil's life, as well as an interview with Phil's sister Sonny on CapeCodOnline.com(photo credit: Chip Berlet/CC)

Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood Poke Fun at Obamacare at CMAs

NOV 26, 2013 - I found this small clip of a skit by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood at the CMA Awards poking fun of the rollout of the Affordable Health Care Act, or the "AHCA" as I like to call it. Many folks call it "Obamacare", but the two poked fun of the horrendous rollout of the website part of the health care exchanges to the tune of an old George Strait song. Maybe if the Teabagger Republican governors would have cooperated more with the federal government on the exchanges, and worked for their constituents instead of a political party (a small one I might add), then maybe the rollout would have been smoother. Watch for the reaction of Taylor Swift, who is a big President Obama supporter. Lets hope they get it all fixed in the next few weeks, and get the federal exchanges humming as well as the state exchanges, where enrollment is surging.  Those are the states where the governor cooperated and didn't suffer from OHDS: Obama Hatred Derangement Syndrome. The website is actually handling a fair clip of people, and will get better. If you do not have health insurance either thorough Medicaid or your employment, many will find they will be covered by Medicaid, qualify for subsidies to help pay for it, or find a cheap health insurance plan through the exchanges for as little as $20 a month. You may need it one day. Visit HealthCare.gov today to see your options.

Kings of Chaos Help Ric O'Barry Stop Dolphin Slaughter

NOV 21, 2013 - A new "supergroup" calling themselves Kings of Chaos has formed featuring many musicians we all love from various bands, such as Joe Elliot from Def Leppard, and Slash from Guns N Roses, and many others. Leading the band's fight against senseless and brutal slaughter of dolphins, featured in the movie we blogged about earlier called "The Cove", is activist-musician Matt Sorum. Using his band's first concert kicking off their tour in LA, he allowed animal rights activist Ric O'Barry, who has been out in front on this issue, to speak before the show to the audience and make people more aware and active on this issue. Listen below to Ric speak about his organization the Dolphin Project that is doing great work in this field, and check out their Facebook Page here. If you wish to leave a comment or start a conversation, check out the Justice Through Music Facebook site here. Check out the Kings of Chaos website here.

Musicians And Artists Have Special Stake In Obamacare Success

NOV 19, 2013 - Musician and filmmaker Julie Sokolow saw firsthand the problem her and other musicians and artists in the Pittsburgh area having the same problem she had, trying to find an affordable health care insurance plan for a single person. So, she formed an organization called "Healthy Artists" to push for a single-payer health care system.  After the ACA, or "Obamacare", was rolled out she started using the organization to help musicians and artists not only learn more about the Affordable Health Care Act, but also help it roll out more smoothly and be successful. Musicians and artists have a special stake in the successful roll out and implementation of the ACA, because many musicians are self-employed and have never even thought about health care and insurance. Read more about Julie in her work on PittNews.com here, and check out Healthy Artists website here. Watch musician-activist Matt Dull from the group Young Brokaw talk about getting a bill for $1200 because he had no health insurance after he slipped on the ice. He talks about the need for everyone to have health insurance, so please sign up if you do not have health insurance yet. In some states it is very low cost, and many people will get subsidies to help you pay for it. JTMP asks our musician supporters to sign up for health care insurance through the exchanges by December 14th, 2013 by going to the government's health care insurance exchange website here.

Joan Jett Moves To Different Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Float Because Of Her Animal Rights Activism

NOV 18, 2013 - Joan Jett, who is trying to separate her musical entertainment side and her animal rights activism side, is having a rough go these days. South Dakota ranchers, who abuse millions of cows in those horrible feed lots and slaughterhouses, heard Joan Jett would be on their state's float in the parade. They complained and got her moved, or she moved to a different float depending on who you talk to. Jett has been very active in the animal rights activism field, making PSAs and working with PETA among many other things. Read more about the controversy on NewYorkCBSLocal.com here.  (photo credit: Jessica Harcourt Leary/CC)

Kris Kristofferson Blames Boxing For Memory Loss

NOV 18, 2013 - Musician Kris Kristofferson is blaming his athletic days and concussions on his recent memory loss problems. Kristofferson said in an interview to Fox411 that "my memory has been going recently". He added he can remember his songs, and his latest film, "The Motel Life" is currently out. Kris' life has been rich. Born an "army brat" in Texas, he attended Pomona College in California and played rugby and football, and surely received many concussions. Sports programs these days on all levels are grappling with concussion issues, which can lead to long term health problems such as memory loss like Kris is suffering from. He earned a Rhodes Scholarship, and while at Merton he boxed, which led to more concussions. He also started writing songs professionally while there. In 1960, under pressure from his military career family, he enrolled in the US Army and was stationed in Germany. He resumed his music career and formed a band. In 1965 he left the army and decided to pursue his music career full time. His army career family was horrified and disowned him; they never reconciled.

He went to Nashville and swept floors for Columbia Studios, and worked hard at his songwriting until in 1971 Janis Joplin recorded his song "Me and Bobby McGee". Ray Stevens and Johnny Cash recorded his song "Sunday Mornin' Coming Down" and he had success as a performer also. He then went on to have a successful acting career, winning a Golden Globe award for his role in "A Star is Born". Married three times and with eight children, he told Fox411, "I am very blessed and am at a very good point in my life". Read the entire interview on Fox411 here.  (photo credit: Ron Baker/CC)

Lou Reed Memorial Today

NOV 14, 2013 - The memorial to honor the life and music legacy of Lou Reed will be held today. His Facebook page announced the memorial service will be held at the Paul Milstein Pool & Terrace at Lincoln Center today at from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. It will be open to the public, and they say there will be no speeches or live performances. It will feature selections by his family and friends of his music and recordings for all to hear. Recently, many tributes have come from his wife, family, friends, and musicians he has worked with. Rolling Stone posted 20 musicians and their thoughts on Lou and his musical legacy.

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