When I came up with the idea for this tour, it was going to be small house concerts for old friends and family that collected donations for a non-profit (Better Angels). However, after performing at the Better Angels Conference in June, I found an enthusiastic network who wanted to make this project bigger and more effective.
The first to join was psychologist and musical comedy performer Andy Roth. In couples therapy, Andy frequently helps feuding partners de-escalate conflict, and joined Better Angels to apply similar methods to feuding citizens. This tour struck him as an opportunity to de-escalate conflict using his artistic skills as well. Andy has generously dedicated months to planning and practicing and will take 2 weeks off work to tour. Moreover, for the one show Andy can’t make (in Vermont), my friend Sam Averbuck is helping revive “Sam and Sage” in Winooski, VT.
After Andy joined, new friends from the conference offered to plan logistics. Then old friends and family volunteered their homes and religious centers as venues (mostly for free!). The grammy nominated songwriter Steve Seskin gave us permission to perform his songs. Music video guru JB Nuttle offered to film promotional videos. We even found organizers for workshops to run in conjunction with the concert. Eventually, the national leadership team for Better Angels got involved. David Blankenhorn (the founder of Better Angels) will now be introducing multiple shows.
More than just expanding our reach, this new scale has also changed the show’s content. As our list of performers and organizers expanded, the number of potential songs, themes, and artists grew too. That meant I had to transform this project from just “my show” into something that gave others a voice on stage as well. In addition, as our audience expanded, I’ve had to ensure the show remains relevant and open. For example, I’ve included songs I disagree with. I’ve cut songs that dismiss or simplify my opponents. I’ve tried to ensure there’s something in this show for everyone.
Hence, my planning process has been an exercise in respectful communication. To make the show interesting, entertaining, and accessible to people of different political beliefs, I’ve had to make compromises and adjustments on what I say and how I say it. But I also believe this challenge has made for a better show than I could have produced on my own.
And with all the work so many of us have put into this project, I hope you’ll make time to attend yourself. This tour is giving me the rare opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones. I hope you’ll be among them.
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