America Friendly Music or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Elks Lodge

Earlier this week I was invited to Per Se, a sleek restaurant in the Time Warner Center here in NYC for a lavish lunch sponsored by Concord Records. Co-owner Norman Lear was there. So was former SNL and now Letterman band leader Paul Shaffer who served as MC. The occasion was the release of another Ray Charles project which I will be writing about in more detail in an upcoming issue of the magazine. Titled Ray Swings—Basie Swings, it's an elaborate studio creation. Again though, Look for more in December's Stereophile.

While the music was interesting, Per Se was less so. Portions fit for a sparrow is how I would describe it. I really don't get the whole ridiculously teeny portions theory that comes standard with so many high concept restaurants these days. You know the kind: drop $200 for two and leave hungry.

I had to stop for slice on the way back to the office.

When I got back, I found an email from a friend, Coleman Brice, who sent me the following fairly disturbing missive.

"Last Sunday Rick Barry, one of the artists on my label AERIA Records was interrupted onstage and asked to leave the Pt. Pleasant Beach Elks lodge. Apparently Rick's song entitled "Courage For A Rainy Day" offended some veterans in the audience and in an effort to appease these regular patrons, the event manager informed Rick that he couldn't perform any "not America friendly" repertoire.

Actually the song is pro American and encapsulates Rick's thoughts, feelings, and personal perceptions concerning the Iraq War. The song addresses the evil that is war profiteering and expresses nothing but sheer admiration and respect for the sacrifice and bravery of those called to military duty.

Isn't something terribly amiss when veterans, some who risked all to protect our constitutional freedom, would want to suppress that same liberty to a young man on stage simply because they didn't understand or appreciate his message? I thought that as Americans we all agree to our right to disagree and to tolerate alternative views and beliefs.

In my opinion, articulate, well reasoned, morally upright debate is a form of patriotism; in fact our nation was founded upon it. Some may even recall a certain historical document known as the Declaration of Independence.

In any case, bumper stickers frequenting the region remind us that freedom isn't free, and certainly the men and women of our armed forces do more than any to preserve our way of life, but a democracy is also dependent upon a well informed, vigilant, discerning, and free thinking citizenry that is not afraid to speak up for and express their Constitutional rights and responsibilities.

It seems to me that the only "not America friendly" activity last Sunday was the suppression of Rick Barry's rights and freedoms as a fellow citizen of these United States.”

All I can say after, "The Point Pleasant Beach Elks Lodge?, now there's a choice gig!!!" is when are people going to learn? Disagreeing with the current administration is NOT the equal of supporting terrorism. It only means you can think for yourself, which is something people in this country need to wake up and do a lot more of between now and Election Day.

Al Marcy's picture

Freedom is not much good. Idiots and savants and all between wander around in private fogs of hopes and fears. We can disagree and complain. This is true in USA, also in Hell. Relax, people just try to make a buck and get laid. Nobody ever gets to be boss. That is just a popular fantasy ... like living healthfully ;)

Donald N.'s picture

Haha - Al Marcy - your a trip.Story sounds familiar - scary in this day and age!