Last Friday night, September 7th, Harlem’s Apollo Theater played host to a historic performance billed as Don’t Tell Me This Country Ain’t Got No Heart: A Benefit for Voter Participation. The HeadCount benefit show was anchored by Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and his Terrapin Family Band along with the guests that had joined them the previous two nights at Central Park and The Capitol Theatre, respectively, guitarist Eric Krasno and vocalist Nicki Bluhm.
Peter Shapiro, HeadCount, and the rest of the organizers recruited “sacred steel” virtuoso Robert Randolph and the world-renowned Harlem Gospel Choir as special guests on the show, as well as critically acclaimed hip-hop artist Talib Kweli.
Worlds collided last Friday night, with seemingly every aspect of the celebration having notable significance. The show was broadcasted live, so fans around the country could watch the performance and share in its message of rallying the masses to get out the vote. It marked the first time ever that a member of the Grateful Dead had played the storied room. It took place on promoter Peter Shapiro‘s birthday, prompting the band to open set two with a sing-along “Happy Birthday” in his honor. The performance itself also exuded on-topic political and societal overtones, from the band’s rocking first-set cover of Neil Young protest hymn “Ohio” to its extended second-set “Throwing Stones” and joyful set-closing plea for love, “Turn On Your Lovelight”.
Bob Dylan’s another musician who’s lived a life of spreading his political values, in and out of his music. Eric Krasno led the mega-band through a cover of a Dylan tune, serving as the second to last song of the second set. You can watch full pro-shot footage of Phil Lesh & Very Special Friends, Robert Randolph, and the Harlem Gospel Choir, performing a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heavens Door” during the HeadCount voter participation benefit at The Apollo below:
Phil Lesh & Very Special Friends, Robert Randolph, & the Harlem Gospel Choir – “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”
Make sure you get out and VOTE in the upcoming elections on Tuesday, November 6th. For help finding your local polling place, or to find more information about how you can get involved, visit the HeadCount website.