Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dave Matthews, Bob Weir Among Artists Appearing in Powerful Documentary

A Call To Action, a documentary that captures the story of how a motivated group of musicians and fans created HeadCount, a grassroots non-partisan, not-for-profit voter registration organization, was released today on . A trailer can be viewed on YouTube. The film depicts how HeadCount sprang out of the live music community to become a force in a nationwide movement to mobilize young voters. It features appearances by a dozen musicians and longtime supporters, including superstar Dave Matthews, Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead, Trey Anastasio of Phish and Grammy-winner Bela Fleck.

Produced by the philanthropic event and media creator Concerts4Charity, Inc., A Call to Action mixes music, interviews and concert footage to tell an inspirational story about culture and political organizing. It shows how unique lessons learned in the grassroots music community were applied in launching HeadCount, a volunteer-run organization that would register nearly 50,000 voters in 2004, its very first year of existence. “For the young folks today, these elections will largely determine what happens for the rest of their lives,” said Bob Weir, a member of HeadCount’s Board of Directors, in A Call to Action. The documentary includes footage of Weir and several other artists making an appeal from stage for their fans to register and vote. It also profiles other nonprofit organizations and charitable activity by artists such as Warren Haynes (of Gov’t Mule and the Allman Brothers Band).

“Telling this story through the words and images of artists really hammers home how universal this is,” said Marc Brownstein, bass player for the popular electronic rock band The Disco Biscuits, and one of HeadCount’s co-chairs and founders. Brownstein also appears in the film.

HeadCount has set out to register another 100,000 voters in this election cycle through a campaign that will include registration drives held at more than 1,000 concerts. It has ties to about 75 different recording artists and a network of nearly 2,000 volunteers. Targeting young voters in particular, HeadCount largely works with artists who have a strong emotional bond with their fans.

The majority of A Call to Action was filmed on location at the March 2007 Langerado Music Festival in the political hotbed of Broward County, Florida. It also includes appearances by jazz pianist John Medeski, members of the underground college phenomenon O.A.R., political rocker Michael Franti and moe. guitarist Al Schnier, also a member of HeadCount’s Board of Directors.

“Our mission is to use arts and sports to encourage philanthropic activity among young people,” said Kaleem Clarkson, Executive Director of Concerts4Charity. “We felt that profiling HeadCount and having the artists tell the story was a great way to do that.”, an interactive streaming video network, is hosting A Call to Action along with other original content such as live concerts. It recently streamed this year’s Langerado festival, where A Call to Action was shown on giant video screen in front of 15,000 people.

Since its inception in 2004, HeadCount has registered over 60,000 voters – a rewarding challenge for a core group of volunteers, which has in turn provided a voice for many. 2008 will mark the first full election cycle since the organization was launched. For scores of volunteers, this undertaking has truly been…A Call to Action.

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