Published on March 3rd, 2016 | by Adam McKinney


Tacoma goes politicking: five great Tacoma bands to feel the Bern on Sunday

The first presidential election I was ever old enough to participate in was in 2008, when I proudly helped to elect Barack Obama. That whole election season was a doozy, and I ravenously ate up every bit of political news I could find. It’s almost quaint, these days, to think back on that time and remember that, as a nation, the thing we were most afraid of was Sarah Palin, and not the man that was actually running on the Republican ticket.

In 2016, I’m sure a lot of people would absolutely love to have anyone as relatively measured and reasonable as John McCain was in this sea of maniacs competing for the Republican nomination. Instead, what we have is the singularly loathsome Donald Trump surrounded by a pack of fellow lunatics.

On the Democrats’ side, as inspiring as the Republicans are frightening, we have Bernie Sanders vying for the nomination. The groundswell of support for Senator Sanders has been exciting to watch, even as it can sometimes feel futile in the face of a complacent political system.

With Sanders’ refusal to accept contributions from corporations, special interest groups, and Super PACs, every little bit of money donated to his campaign is tremendously important. For their part, five amazing local bands will be taking the stage at the Swiss on Sunday to show their support for Bernie Sanders, including Tacoma legends Girl Trouble and the Wailers’ Buck Ormsby.

Girl Trouble

Girl Trouble

Girl Trouble (particularly drummer Bon Von Wheelie) have always been vocal when it comes to issues of justice – famously, a few years ago, when they did battle with Gorilla Productions over Von Wheelie’s activism against pay-to-play concerts, and recently with their opposition to Tacoma’s proposed methanol refinery – so it makes sense that they’d lend their musicianship to Sanders’ cause.

The last couple years have been monumental ones for Girl Trouble, as they celebrated their 30-year anniversary and starred in their own documentary, Strictly Sacred. There seems to be no sense of slowing down from the garage rock iconoclasts, and their live set remains unmissable.

Trees and Timber and The Fun Police are also on the bill. Both bands have steadily established themselves as two of the most reliable, hardworking bands in the South Sound.

The Fun Police’s eclectic punk, mixing elements of folk, polka, rockabilly, and Irish jig is always a delight to behold.

Trees and Timber

Trees and Timber

Trees and Timber, meanwhile, might just be the best band in Tacoma when it comes to writing classic, effortless garage pop hooks.

Billy Stoops, a transplant from Kentucky, has been crafting compelling blues and roots rock in Tacoma for over 20 years. He’ll be performing with his band the Dirt Angels, and the warm tones he brings will be a perfect match for the impeccable sound system at the Swiss.

Rounding out the bill, bearing over 50 years of Tacoma rock and roll legacy, is Buck Ormsby, who will be joined by an ensemble of friends. In short: this is a stacked bill for a great cause.

The show starts at 4 pm, and is all ages until 8 pm, when the Fun Police come on and only the legal drinkers may stay.

I can’t overstate how important it is for an event like this to allow the under-21 crowd to join. My first election year was a thrilling one, sure, but I didn’t just become interested in politics because I had turned 18 – I got upset at my brother four years earlier when he voted for Ralph Nader and, in my mind, handed the election to George W. Bush. This is an immensely important election year, and it’s imperative that everyone pay attention. Shows like this can help to wake people up.

bernie-194x300Bernie Sanders Tribute Concert March 6, 4 pm
The Swiss
Billy Stoops and the Dirt Angels, Buck Ormsby and Friends, Girl Trouble, Trees and Timber, the Fun Police, $10,
1904 S Jefferson Ave, Tacoma, 253.572.2821

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About the Author

A born and raised Tacoma citizen, Rev. Adam McKinney has been professionally writing about arts and culture since 2009. In that time, he's interviewed the likes of Ira Glass, a member of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a guy who smokes a ton of pot and wrote for The Twilight Zone, and he saw Fifty Shades of Grey with his mom because he thought it would make for a funny story. He will gladly work for whiskey.

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