Appalachian Labor Day Concert Stirs Political Pot

Willie Nelson, Nanci Griffith and Asleep At The Wheel were among those performing for thousands yesterday (Sept. 6) at a riverfront event in Charleston, W. Va.

Willie Nelson, Nanci Griffith and Asleep At The Wheel were among those performing for thousands yesterday (Sept. 6) at a riverfront event in Charleston, W. Va. Billed as a free Labor Day concert and rally focusing on jobs, health care and education, Reinvest in America; Put America Back to Work boasted appearances by actor/activist Danny Glover and Rev. Jesse Jackson and performances by the Indigo Girls and Judy Collins.

"The good thing about music is that it brings people together," Nelson said. "[This country's] divided, and it's intentionally divided to keep people from learning what is going on on the other side."

Most of those on stage during the daylong event spoke in favor of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, or blamed President Bush for problems in the country. Members of Asleep At The Wheel urged the crowd to help return Bush to Texas, where he served as governor before being elected to the nation's highest office in 2000.

Singer/songwriter Griffith talked about a niece's recent cancer scare. Recently divorced and raising a 10-year-old son, the 30-year-old has no health insurance. "The hospital would not do her surgery until the bill was paid in full," the three-time Grammy winner recalled after her set. "They postponed it for a week until they got Aunt Nanci's check. I think that's despicable."

Jackson, whose Rainbow/PUSH Coalition helped bring the concert to Charleston, discussed job losses, drop in wages and a rise in the poverty level during his address to the crowd. "Workers must rally, and this time workers in Appalachia must vote their economic interests and not vote their fears," he said.


AP LogoCopyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.