Grace Potter, Dawes and Moon Taxi will rock this year’s Democratic and Republican national conventions with invitation-only events supporting the nonpartisan voter registration nonprofit HeadCount and its thousands of volunteers from around the country.
The first “HeadCount Convention Jam” will be held on July 18, the Republican National Convention’s opening day, in Cleveland with a performance by Moon Taxi at the House of Blues. Reps Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. and Mike McCaul, R-Texas will serve as the event’s congressional hosts.
The next week, when the Democratic National Convention kicks off in Philadelphia, Potter and Dawes will perform late night sets at the Electric Factory. Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. — who represent Dawes and Potter’s home states, respectively — along with Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Linda Sanchez, D-Calif. and Peter Welch D-Vt. will all co-host the celebration.
“The Convention Jams are meant to celebrate how music promotes voting and civic participation,” HeadCount co-chairman and Disco Biscuits bassist Marc Brownstein said in a statement. “I’m very excited to host Grace and Dawes in my home town, and show Convention attendees on both sides of the aisle that we really know how to throw a party.”
This year, HeadCount reports registering more than 30,000 voters at more than 700 concerts. Billboard and GRAMMYs on the Hill are the lead sponsors of the HeadCount Convention Jam events.
Potter tells Billboard she has been keen to HeadCount’s voter engagement efforts for nearly a decade, since she first became “deeply involved” with President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. She said she first got to know some of the organizers behind HeadCount from the jam band circuit and music festivals that have been key to the nonprofits efforts since it was founded in 2004.
“I think that their visibility and the message has gotten out and they are a success story,” she says. “Headcount is one of those beautiful pipe dreams that actually comes true for many of the organizers and people involved…. I think that sense of community has carried on and grown and the momentum and what we’ve all been able to achieve together, it does feel like something that should be celebrated.”
Among the handful of shows and festivals where HeadCount will have a volunteer presence this year, among them is Potter’s performance at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado, on Aug. 19. As well, three Dawes shows this month will also involve HeadCount.
Potter said the key to HeadCount’s working formula of registering new voters at music events is simple: “You have a captive audience,” she says, adding, “and its a captive audience that wants to feel that there’s important conversations being had.”
“Voting is something that we all have a right to,” she continues. “It’s not something that we have to do … it’s absolutely an honor and a great opportunity to be heard.”