On September 7th, New York’s Apollo Theater will host a benefit concert headlined by “Phil Lesh & Very Special Friends“, marking the first time any member of the Grateful Dead has performed at the iconic Harlem theater. Dubbed Don’t Tell Me This Country Ain’t Got No Heart: A Benefit For Voter Participation, the concert is a fundraiser for HeadCount, the national, nonpartisan, non-profit, organization that works with musicians and music fans to promote participation in democracy in the United States. The show will be webcast for free via Relix at 8 p.m. (ET) tomorrow night, Friday, September 7th.
The Phil Lesh & Very Special Friends performance will feature the Harlem Gospel Choir, The Terrapin Family Band, Nicki Bluhm, Talib Kweli, Robert Randolph, and Eric Krasno.
“This moment requires each of us to step up and get involved,” bassist Phil Lesh told Rolling Stone. “Playing the Apollo the first time is both an honor for me personally and something I can do to help support as many people voting in the Midterms and beyond. I can’t wait for September 7th … and for November 6th.”
Concert promoter Peter Shapiro (GD50, LOCKN’, Brooklyn Bowl, Capitol Theatre, Relix) is, of course, behind the efforts here, and is also a member of HeadCount’s board of directors. “I’m always trying to ask myself how this music can be reinvented,” he explains to Rolling Stone. “I’ve put [members of the Dead] on in Central Park, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, Roseland, Forest Hills Stadium … But the Apollo had never been done and it’s a magical place.”
“The biggest issue we face is that many young people think elections happen every four years,” HeadCount executive director Andy Bernstein notes. “Less than 20% of people under 30 voted in the last midterm. There’s a big voter registration component to what we do, but there’s an even greater get-out-the-vote component and that is really, really critical in the midterm elections when so many registered voters stay home.”
The goal is for this concert events to be one of many staged around the upcoming elections in 2018 and 2020. “I think we’re going to see a huge uptick in voters of people voting because of events like this,” Shapiro confirms. “This event alone is not going to change the world, but the world won’t change without events like this.”
Tickets are still available for tomorrow night’s benefit concert through Ticketmaster. Make sure to tune into Relix’s Youtube channel here, tomorrow at 8 p.m. (ET), to catch Phil Lesh & “Very Special Friends” debut performance at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.