Soundtracks for Social Change

Chicago for the People


July 4, 2009



Tonight I listen to the fireworks begin to go off and the incessant swirl of sirens round the Howard Street ghetto. As dusk falls, I wonder what to the detained immigrant means the Fourth of July. I wonder what the millions of imprisoned women and men in this land of the free are thinking at this moment.

I imagine that we’d all like to hear a different tune, to hear voices raised in joy and freedom rather than anguish and despair, to hear voices capable of inspiring and throwing off the shackles of injustice.

Soundtracks for Social Change seeks to raise these voices of freedom and link them to movements for social change. The event will bring together some of Chicago’s finest radical community and social activists with some of the city’s finest musicians and artists for a day of brainstorming and collaboration, followed by a day of musical performances on Saturday, September 19, at On-the-Fly Farm in Union Pier, Michigan. The concert, featuring the Balkan Megitza Quartet, Judson Claiborne, a square dance (with the Golden Horse Ranch Square Dance Band or another stellar bluegrass outfit), the Lampkin Gospel Quartet from Michigan City, anarcho-punk Everything is Ruined, and a special guest speaking on interplay of artists and social movements, will be followed by the creation of a CD entitled Chicago for the People. The CD will feature musicians and bands performing at the farm, as well as other area musicians, with new material addressing areas of social injustice, struggle, and organizing in the Chicago area. Sales of the CD will benefit the participating activist organizations.

Tickets for camping Friday to Sunday, and the concert, will cost $25, and proceeds after expenses will go half to the Chicago Women’s Health Center and half to the activists involved in Just Farming Confederation based in Union Pier, which include On-the-Fly Farm and God’s Gang.

This is very much a work in progress, a churning tide. Volunteers are needed for several crews, ranging from child care to food to traffic flow to sound system. If you have ideas, food, energy, time, and commitment and would like to throw in, or need more information, send a message to 


[Draft, Advance Notice of a Work in Progress]