Jack Johnson, Hawaii native and laid-back singer-songwriter surfer, wants you to vote.
Johnson, along with artists G. Love and Animal Liberation Orchestra, or ALO will perform at Eisenhower Auditorium today as part of Rock The Vote’s “Road Trip 2012.”
Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Rock the Vote Chrissy Faessen said she was thrilled to make a stop at Penn State as part of the legendary road trip.
Faessen said it is especially important for the non-partisan voter advocacy group to make a stop in Pennsylvania with the current establishment of voter restrictions, like the expanded voter identification law.
“For the past 21 years, Rock the Vote has traveled to where young people are to help them register or pledge to vote if they are already registered,” Faessen said.
The Student Programming Association is presenting the event and Marketing Chair Megan Mansell (senior-public relations) said she thought bringing Rock the Vote to Penn State was a great idea.
Heather Maggi (senior-film), SPA Entertainment Chair, said the event will kick off from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. with Rock the Vote Village on the plaza in front of Eisenhower.
Tables will be set up to help students register to vote and interact with sponsors. Faessen said there will be an iPad app exclusive for the event and students will have the ability to record videos and take pictures. Tickets for the concert at 7 p.m. will also be distributed during that time.
Doors open at 6:15 p.m. and the concert is free for students with a valid Penn State ID+ and will be distributed on a first come, first served basis.
This year, Rock the Vote is making about 20 stops across the nation. The tour kicked off with shows at the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention and is now moving up the East Coast and will finally head out west.
With regard to bringing Jack Johnson on board for the road trip, Faessen said Johnson participated before in 2008, and is passionate about being a part of the team and has supported Rock the Vote over the years.
Drew McGehrin, Penn State Chair of College Democrats said he’s excited to see high-level names like Johnson taking notice of social issues.
“This concert is a great way to raise awareness about something that is fundamentally important,” McGehrin (senior-history and religious studies) said.
But not everyone on campus feels positive about the event stopping at Penn State.
Penn State Chair of College Republicans Jordan Harris spoke for the group and said members will not be participating because in his opinion, Rock the Vote has discouraged people from registering as Republicans in the past.
“We object to them coming and I wish they were not stopping at Penn State,” Harris (senior-history) said.
Faessen said Rock the Vote is a non-partisan campaign meant to get young people participating in the election.
“Young people are savvy enough to make their own decisions,” Faessen said.
Music professors at Penn State said a relationship exists between music and politics.
Associate Professor of Music Lynn Drafall wrote in an email that songs politicians use in their campaigns often become “synonymous” with the candidate as the campaigns progress.
“We still equate the old-time song of ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ with FDR and that was 90 years ago,” Drafall wrote.
Drafall also wrote about “mob psychological persuasion,” explaining that if fans of Johnson saw that he performed at a political event and he is politically active, they will want to be politically active as well.
Sue Haug, director of the School of Music at Penn State, said that music is a very powerful force and celebrities in general have an influence on the voting population.
“It is certainly a way to bring out different populations and get people’s attention,” Haug said.
Christopher Kiver, music professor at Penn State and director of Glee Club and Chamber Singers, provided an in-depth analysis on the relationship between melodies and government.
Kiver won two Grammy’s in 2006 for “Best Choral Performance” and “Best Classical Album” and had a lot to say about the topic.
During a phone interview, Kiver hummed out the infamous “Jaws” melody and asked what emotions that evoked. Typical responses would be fear, suspense and images of sharks.
Kiver used that as an example to show how music is made to manipulate emotional responses.
“Every artist used for a political purpose is carefully selected,” Kiver said.
It is interesting to note that people interpret music and lyrics differently and there can be secondary meaning, Kiver said.
“Characteristics of music, like it being loud, rhythmic, having a strong pulse, or repetitive and easy-to-sing lyrics creates different interpretations,” Kiver said.
Many different interpretations will be found at today’s Rock the Vote Concert. While some may take Jack Johnson crooning “Banana
Pancakes” as motivation to be a part of the upcoming election, others might just find their stomachs growling for some flapjacks.