Last week, Django Haskins, lead singer for Durham's Old Ceremony, posted a short performance to YouTube. "This is a public service message to our so-called public servants," he sneers before launching into his song, entitled "We Are Not For Sale." The take (streaming above) is quick and shambling, a series of typical G, C and D chords underpinning Haskins' straightforward words. He has to glance at lyrics to keep them straight, and his intonation is somewhat inconsistent. But his barbs ring true. He points out what he sees as the folly of frackers: "They'll need water too." He compares retroactive voting policies to the days of "old Jim Crow." He's mad.
For the past nine weeks, thousands of protesters have descended upon the N.C Capitol for "Moral Mondays," reactions to the ultra-conservative policies of the state's Republican-dominated legislature—eliminating extended unemployment benefits, stripping funding from public schools and healthcare programs, etc. Many have refused to leave the chambers until they are arrested and taken away. As the buses carrying them roll out, people line up to cheer on their civil disobedience. "If you think that you can silence us, you'll need a bigger jail," Haskins offers. "We are not for sale."
As it turns out, Haskins is far from the only musician looking to leverage his talents to fight these policies. The NC Music Love Army, a new grouping of local artists, has emerged to make its voice heard. The coalition, organized by Raleigh's Caitlin Cary and Charlotte's Jon Lindsay, plans to produce an EP-length compilation of protest songs to be unveiled with a large-scale concert. Dates and location have yet to be announced.
The impressive roster includes Haskins and nationally recognized songwriter Tift Merritt as well as members of American Aquarium, Hiss Golden Messenger, JKutchma & the Five Fifths, The Love Language and more. Proceeds from the collection will benefit the NAACP, Progress NC, and Planned Parenthood, three organizations at the forefront of the Moral Monday movement. Filmmaking members of the NCMLA will capture all activity for a forthcoming documentary.
Anyone too restless to wait for the compilation's release can attend an open rehearsal this Saturday at Durham's Pinhook. The free event takes place between 3 and 6 p.m. Anyone interested in donating, volunteering or simply asking questions can contact Caitlin Cary at NCMusicLoveArmy@gmail.com.