Jon Fishman, the famed drummer of Phish and selectman of Lincolnville, Maine joined forces with Lauren Lareau, a candidate for Pennsylvania State Representative for a night of virtual fun on zoom this past Sunday. The zoom meeting took place in the evening, entry required a ticket, and all ticket sales were donated to Lauren Lareau’s campaign. Tickets included different tiers. The higher tiers included a picture of Lauren painted by incredible artist Anita Goodsel Thomas, and was signed by Jon Fishman. It is amazing to watch people working together and using their talents for good.
Lauren Lareau is a brilliant teacher, amazing parent, experienced activist, successful tutor, member of the township environmental advisory council, a 1.0 phish fan….the list goes on and on! Lauren met Fishman at a Mallet Brothers Band show, where she told him she was running, and that is where his political support began. The two are big Bernie Sanders supporters, and believe our country needs honest compassionate people getting involved in politics, they both have truly stepped up to be the change they want to see. Now they have teamed up to create this unique and incredible event, which helps Lauren’s campaign, and was an absolute treat to all it’s attendees. The two have shown us how important it is to try to make change ourselves, and how much progress can be made when we work together with our community. We truly are, all in this together!
The zoom was scheduled to begin at 5, but many of us joined a few minutes early to get ready, and the excitement was through the roof! There were 48 people who were on this zoom call, and we were all about to get to speak with the drummer of our favorite band. It was a unique feeling of excitement, we were all about to see someone we have seen play live music often, but someone we have never sat down to have a conversation with through video chat. Any second now, he was gonna pop on the screen, it was truly unbelievable for everyone in attendance. When his smiling face popped up, chills went down my spine, it was such a surreal feeling. We did introductions and all got to say hi, then we muted ourselves and Lauren began the questions.
All attendees had the opportunity to email questions in, we got through some of them but it really turned into this one long awesome conversation instead of just short questions and answers. It was truly everything we could’ve hoped for. It really felt like we were all hanging out, certain questions brought about stories and new topics, it was so fascinating to have this genuine conversation that went so many places. This conversation was scheduled to be an hour, but lucky for us Fishman spoke for an extra half hour.
The questions began with : “What was your musical influence?”
“My mother took me to see Buddy Rich when I was 10 years old. We saw Buddy Rich, and that was outrageous, and I said ok, that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. The first song I learned was When the Levee breaks. Learning by ear, as a kid, there is no better place to start than Zeppelin. I used to listen to a record, get all juiced up on that, run downstairs to the basement to mimic what I heard. I loved the who, Hendrix, Mitch Mitchell, Bill Bruford, Phil Collins, Zappa…but the Zeppelin got me through the door, my mother took me to see Buddy Rich, then at that time started working my way into rock stuff. Already, right out of the gate, Jazz was this thing around the corner like, “the fuck is that?” I was there when cassettes came along when I was a kid, the same way CD’s came along for my kids. So I used to, whenever I got a record I would look at every detail of the sleeve from whether it was BMI or ASCAP to the release date. I would meticulously look at every name of every musician on the record, and if I liked the drummer I would look for everything else they were on. Again, you didn’t have the internet, you had to find other ways of sleuthing, you had to ask your friends, you had to go to the record store.
We paused and Lauren asked: “So did you have someone at the record store that would always help you out?”
“Yeah, I would go to this store in Syracuse called Desert Shore Records. Whenever I had extra money I would go down there and raid the jazz section for the most part.
I didn’t buy a Beatles record, Stones record, buy anything that was popular and on the radio…no Zeppelin. Except the one with “The Levee Breaks” because I wanted to learn it but you’d hear all that stuff on rotation all the time, you still do on classic rock radio stations. It never goes away, there’s a new station for it! Phish has their own station now for christ sake!”
We all laughed at that one.
Next Lauren asks: “What are you listening to now?”
“Having this new radio show The Errant Path has me listening to all kinds of stuff. I have notes, my groove practice list I listen to to practice drumming. Soul man, Sam & Dave…it’s just good for your body as a drummer to sit down and play that tune. She said she said….you know there’s that debate people have about Ringo Starr people question was he a good drummer or not? All I have to say to that is to anyone who questions that at all, listen to She Said, She Said and then we can talk. There are certain things that are perfect drumming and that’s it. Empty pages by Traffic, James Brown…any james brown record. If I do nothing but play to James Brown, and play to Bob Marley, back to back over and over and over again I’ll end up being like the perfect drummer. Artie Shaw, Back Bay shuffle…shuffles are a big thing for drummers..you can always tell the general skill level of a drummer to an extent by how well they can play a shuffle, it’s very difficult to do. An example of a shuffle would be julius…and to this day I am unhappy with the way I play Julius. I’d loved to be able to play julius the way my favorite shufflers play it. If anyone wants to hear the most incredible shuffle, there’s this tune called Alamode, by Art Blakey. Little Feat, easy to slip has an incredible groove, April in Paris by Count Basie, A spoonful of sugar by Duke Ellington. Happy by Phraell, unfucking believe groove, it’s a great groove to play.
What are your political influences? What inspired you to care?
I guess the simplest way to sum it up would be, I remember when I was in high school the two authors I read a lot were Kurt Vonnegut and Hunter Thompson. There is a quote from Hunter Thompson…and he ran for Sheriff in his town in Colorado and he was a part of his community there, he was an active member and involved. An answer he gave in the context of a similar question, he said “you either pay attention to what’s going on in your government, or you become a victim of its policies whether you like it or not.” You are in it no matter what. You can choose not to participate, but policies are going to be made and you might not like them all. There was this quote “You either participate or get dragged behind” and I remember reading that at 16, and it really struck me. Not that I went out and became an activist, but I just always sort of paid attention.
When you’re on the losing side of the shenanigans, it can be really difficult, I understand why people are giving up, they aren’t voting. Both sides can be full of shit, and every once in a while you get someone who isn’t full of shit like Bernie Sanders, but even he’s not perfect. But he would be the first person to say it, and that’s what makes him a good politician. One of the things I’ve been able to distil from my experience in our town select board, is that you have to be honest. You have to be, your only other choice is to lie, get caught then double down on the lie. Which is what our current administration does, and a lot of people do. Even Biden does it too, even the last debate Bernie questioned him on things he lied about even though there is footage of him saying otherwise. You have to be honest with yourself first, then the public in that order. Your service needs to be in the other order. You serve the public first and yourself last.
Lauren asks “And why are you supporting my campaign?”
“Lauren isn’t someone I know well, but I do know she is vetted by the Sanders Campaign and that is important to me. I’m not a blind follower, but I am an informed follower. He is one of the few politicians in modern times that I feel you can trust. He is careful who he puts his name behind. Also, in our conversations, we have met, talked about politics, it’s all so basic. Anywhere we can get people who will stand up for Education, Healthcare, and the Environment. There’s issues of inequality, racism, there are so many things that our politicians need to care about. It isn’t that hard to care about these things! I also think we need to change our system, we need to work on Rank Choice voting.
The zoom included so many great questions and answers, stories, opinions, laughter. It was so awesome for everyone to get to discuss music and politics with Jon Fishman! Lauren did an amazing job at running the meeting, and it was such a special event for everyone! Support your friends, support your community. Use your voice for good, and always vote!
Check out all the work Lauren Lareau is doing here.
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