Pledge to Vote & get FREE 'People Lead (live in Seattle 2007)' download

photos by Tim Hurley- for the Grateful Web

To encourage you to vote on election day, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals is offering up a free download of "People Lead (live in Seattle 2007)" to anyone who completes an online "Pledge to Vote" at To get the download, all you have to do is go here and make the pledge. History will be made on election day this year. Be a part of it and vote. 

Make The Pledge Here 

North Dakota's Legionnaires: Get the Fever

photos by Janie Franz- for the Grateful Web

Every time I write about these boys, I somehow slip into my hill country roots and all sorts of mountainisms start coming out of my mouth. I guess it's because I get caught up in the theater of the band and the fact that they don't take anything seriously—except their music. You can't believe a word written on their websites—especially the bios of each current member and former member. (I ought to know because my son used to drum for them when the band first started.)  In fact, their names are so far removed and far-fetched from the North Dakota residents that they are that any local would know these folks are pulling more than your leg. They are currently Cactus Kristofferson and his brother Copenhagen, J "Skull" McCready, Phillip DeSnaatch, and Gunter Banger. A couple of the former members' names really tip into rudeness.

The band is called the Legionnaires. They aren't named for anything noble like the French Foreign Legion or even the DC Comics Legionnaires from the Legion of Super Heroes. They are named for the disease that gets into lungs and brings on a high fever. The Legionnaires honestly will produce a kind of delirium and has created an uncommon loyalty among fans.

They also are making quite a name for themselves across the country because of their funny but very adult lyrics. When the band is mentioned, people say, "You know, those guys in the dirty country band." Live burns from their shows have found their way into the hands of prominent bands like the Animal Liberation Orchestra (AOL). They also have gathered a crew of guest musicians who are eager to sit in with the group, becoming honorary Legionnaires.

The band is the brainchild of Pat Linerts, who used to be the front man for a Fargo band called Bad Mojo that was one of the first regional bands to play the 10,000 Lakes Festival in Detroit Lakes, MN, back in 2003. Shortly after that major gig, the band broke up, and Linerts spent a lot of time writing songs just for the heck of it. These were parodies of the country music he grew up on, but none of those songs were strictly parodies of any one particular country song like Cletus T. Judd did with the songs of country icons like George Strait and Faith Hill. Linerts just used the standard country structure to hang his tales of love, loss, and hope that had titles like "You've Got Worms" and "Rotten Rhonda" (about the guy who only dug up—literally - his girlfriend Rhonda when he got lonely).

As Linerts made the rounds of the local club scene, talking to other bands, he shared some of these songs and soon found key players to form a new band, mushrooming into a six-piece extravaganza that spilled over the stage when guest musicians joined them. Those early songs he wrote became Legionnaires' favorites and began to draw fans. Though the band claims it started in the basement bar of a Fargo strip club, I do know for a fact that the boys played the Moose Lodge and the VFW in Moorhead and quickly skyrocketed to the Cabooze stage in Minneapolis and repeated appearances at the annual Log Jam Music Festival in Minnesota. They have played with many regional bands like the White Iron Band, Down Lo, WBPN, Trampled by Turtles, Javier Trejo, the Afro-Cuban funk/dance band New Primitives, and  the Big Wu. They have also opened for The Radiators, Shooter Jennings, and Banyan—and Linerts sat in with Banyan.

The main attraction at first was their raunchy lyrics. But the songs themselves were not just vehicles to say an X rated word or to write about something perverse. They just were experiments in songwriting that often stretched the limits of even bad taste. Over time, Linerts has used his new songwriting ability to pen some good songs that aren't so adult. However, even the most adult show now has some good straight-up ole country or peace-and-love reggae that doesn't have a hint of XXX.

In fact, it's been said that if Linerts would just replace the lyrics of one of his Legionnaires's standards to "Wash my truck, it's Christmas," instead of "Suck my b***s, its Christmas," they could get radio play.  And his "Feets Don't Fail Me Now," a song about being held held captive by a wild woman, has some of the best four part harmony I've heard in a long time! But, Linerts can write a good song that doesn't have anything too weird attached to it. "The Ballad of Jose" is a song in the vein of  "Poncho and Lefty" about a weed dealer pursued by the federales. "Take Me to the Other Side" is Linerts' own take on reggae, and it rocks.

But no one can deny the showmanship and musicianship of the players. The band has expanded and contracted over the years, but always maintains a lineup with chops. Linerts, of course,  handles the lead vocals and plays a killer electric guitar. Josh Reinhardt (Günter Banger)adds lead guitar flourishes. The other members, all under aliases as J. "Skull" McCready (bass and sometimes guitar), Copenhagen Kristofferson (drums), and Philip DeSnaatch (keys) complete the sound with very tight vocal backup harmonies. The keys player adds a whole new level to what would have been just a plain country band. Under Linerts' influence, the band has become a country/jam entity that is poised to sweep across the country—if they could get loose from their day jobs long enough.

Long Time Comin', the Legionnaires' first studio album was mastered last year at Wonderland Studios in St. Paul, MN.  The twelve tracks include songs with the original band members and new ones with the current lineup.  Half of the material is straight, serious stuff.  Linerts still is constantly writing new materials. The band is currently in the studio (this time one in Fargo), working on a new  CD that will be out later this summer or the early fall.

Last year's CD tour had them playing while artist  Norman Wisdom painted. Wisdom created the energetic cover for Long Time Comin'. He has done interpretive painting for other events such as the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, the opening of the Baliagio Hotel in Vegas, and the premier of Cirque du Soliel's "O" and "Alegria" shows also in Vegas. He has also painted with other bands, including Ivan Neville, Beck, Rob Wasserman, Richie Havens, and Steven Perkins (Jane's Addiction), as well as classical orchestras, jazz bands, dance troupes, and poetry readings. And he is sometimes flown to Morocco to paint murals for a prince.

Whether it's the raunchy lyrics or the great vocal and instrumental talent of the band, everyone wants to get infected with the fever of the Legionnaires.

Still Time to Get Your Phix

- for the Grateful Web

Over the past six years, Phix has been to Phish what Dark Star Orchestra has been to the Grateful Dead:  an absolutely amazing tribute band performing show after show of music that nearly rivals the original.

Based in Boulder, CO the band consists of Paul Murlin (guitar/vocals), Derek Berg (keys/vocals), Chris Sheldon (drums, vocals), and Brian Adams (bass/vocals).  Of all the bands on the scene that cover the intricate music of jam legends Phish, nobody does it better.  Close your eyes during a show and at times you can hardly tell you are listening to four guys from Boulder rather than the well-known four from Vermont.

Unfortunately after playing over 500 shows the band has called it quits, perhaps again fashioning themselves after their heroes, who many feel prematurely disbanded.  However, that doesn't mean these guys are finished just yet.

The draw of playing the songs of Phish must be strong, because even since their last shows in the summer of 2007 coined Covertry (a clever take on Phish's last festival Coventry), some gigs keep popping up.

Two weeks ago at Dulcinea's 100 th Monkey in Denver the band performed an unadvertised show, much to the delight of those who caught word about this "reunion" concert.  The group jammed out Phish favorites such as "David Bowie", "Possum", "The Squirming Coil", "Harry Hood", and more with excellent timing and improvisational flair.

Though the band claims it is no longer touring, there have been more Phix performances announced as of late.  Perhaps the most exciting went down last weekend at the Langerado Festival in Florida, which just happened to take place at the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, the site of Phish's historic millennium concert.

Adding relevance to the experience, the band was slated to start at 11:55pm; exactly the same time Phish took the stage for their monstrous six hour New Year's Eve celebration.  Though Phix trimmed their set down to a modest three hours, it was extremely fitting nonetheless.

Poor weather did not stop the band from belting out popular covers like "Reba", "Maze", and "Divided Sky"; along with a few deeper catalogue songs like "Destiny Unbound", "Punch You in the Eye", "Moma Dance", and "The Curtain".

It now appears the band is at least willing to get together once in awhile and recreate that infectious groove that is Phish.  Anyone curious about experiencing what Phix can do will have at least one more chance in the near future.

The group is now slated to perform at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, CO on April 4 th.  This is actually a platform for the members of the band to show off their new musical projects, but they have apparently agreed to dedicate a portion of the evening to play as Phix.

With only one confirmed show on the horizon, fans of the music of Phish would do themselves a service by checking out this extremely fun tribute band.

The Grateful Dead Get "SIRIUS"

- for the Grateful Web

On The Grateful Dead Channel, exclusively on SIRIUS, you'll hear music spanning the band's career with unreleased concert recordings, original shows hosted by band members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann, and even rare archival interviews with Jerry Garcia! The channel will also feature contributions from Grateful Dead expert David Gans and Dead archivist David Lemieux.

Be Part of The Grateful Dead Channel 

"This is gonna be one fun channel. We, the guys in the band, get to be involved as much as we can and we'll make sure it's fun. We want the fans to be involved as well." – Bob Weir

The Grateful Dead Channel is going to take form based on your suggestions… and your favorite Grateful Dead memories. Call 877-33-SIRIUS, hit 32, and share your thoughts on what should happen on The Grateful Dead Channel. Plus, tell us about your favorite Dead show... or your favorite Dead song… and keep listening because The Grateful Dead Channel will be ever-evolving.


The Grateful Dead Channel will air full-length concert recordings three times a day: a 3 am, noon and 9 pm (all times ET). Here are the next performances:

# 9/11 @ 3 am ET: 9/22/93 New York, NY

# 9/11 @ Noon ET: 8/16/91 Mountain View, CA

# 9/11 @ 9 pm ET: 10/31/87 New York, NY (Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band)

# 9/12 @ 3 am ET: 6/14/91 Washington, DC

# 9/12 @ Noon ET: 9/22/93 New York, NY

# 9/12 @ 9 pm ET: 11/2/79 Uniondale, NY

Listen for archival interviews with members of The Grateful Dead Saturdays at 10 am ET and Sundays at 8 pm ET, and catch Today In Grateful Dead History every day at 7 am, 11 am and 7 pm ET.

Will the South Park Creators Get the Last Laugh?

South Park- for the Grateful Web

Well folks, looks like the latest fad amongst the erstwhile right wing in our fair country is to identify yourself as a "South Park Conservative."  Brian Anderson of the think tank, the Manhattan Institute, has published a book called "South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias" which has the normally buttoned-down conservatives coming out of the closet to rejoice in potty-mouthed irreligious humor that supposedly targets the Liberal Elite in its weekly broadcast.  Am I crazy or are these people just making another target out of themselves.  South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have always gone out of their way to skewer the self-serious and people like Michael Moore, Barbara Streisand and Alec Baldwin aren't exactly moving targets, but to suggest that the show has a conservative, or at least an anti-liberal bent is ludicrous.

Recently, Joe Scarborough, one of the usually more sensible and least vitriolic of the conservative talking heads on television, aired an interview with the author of the book, including some clips from the show to emphasize the point - which they have obviously completely missed:

SCARBOROUGH:  And actually making—you talk about environmentalism - actually making those people that were tearing down rain forests in South America the heroes of an episode.

ANDERSON:  That's right.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let's show another clip from "South Park."


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  You white Americans make me sick.  You waste food, oil, and everything else because you're so rich, and then you tell the rest of the world to save the rain forest because you like its pretty flowers.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  We're here live in San Jose, Costa Rica, where hundreds of Americans have gathered for the Save the Rain Forest Summit.  Everyone is here so they can feel good about themselves and act like they aren't the ones responsible for the rain forest's peril.

In two lines of the show, Parker and Stone have gone after white Americans, wasteful consumption, rampant materialism and environmentalism.  Hey Conservatives, did you laugh at this?  How about you Liberals?  Of course you did, because it is funny and true.

It's embarrassing to hear right-minded individuals taking this for an attack on environmentalism and an endorsement of conservative values - to do so is to practically admit to being fat, greedy, wasteful and willing to let the world go to hell in a hand basket, everyone else be damned.

When Parker and Stone hold their mirror up to America, this is exactly what they see and what they are reflecting back to you.  Time and time again their message has been focused against the hypocrisy of the self-righteous in this country.  And that is neither Liberal nor Conservative.

If Vegas only took odds on the content of upcoming South Park episodes.  "South Park Conservatives" come to South Park and I can't wait to see what happens.

Complete Transcript from Scarborough Country Interview with Brian Anderson aired April 25th 2005

Now, coming up next, the cartoon "South Park" is often childish, irreverent and obscene.  But conservative?  You know what?  Stick around.  You're going to be surprised by what you hear right after this break.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Hello there, little boy.  Do you know who I am?



(singing):  I'm going where there's lucky clovers in the...


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Yes, that sucks, dude.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  I'm Barbra Streisand.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  So?  So, I'm a very famous and very important individual.


SCARBOROUGH:  A popular TV show skewering a liberal celebrity.  You know what?  That may have been unheard of 10 years ago.  But now, thanks to cable news, talk radio, blogs, this type of humor has blossomed onto cable.  The elite media regime has started to crack, some say.  And others say it's a watershed moment in American politics and culture.

That is at least what Brian Anderson, who is editor at "Manhattan Institute City Journal," has to say in his new book, "South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias."

I spoke with him recently and began by asking him, what is a "South Park" conservative?


BRIAN ANDERSON, AUTHOR, "SOUTH PARK CONSERVATIVES":  Well, the way I use the term—and it's been floating around out in the culture for a while—is somebody who looks around at today's left, who might not be a traditional conservative, but who looks at the political correctness, the anti-Americanism, the elitism, and says that's not me; I want nothing to do with that.

And I find a lot of evidence for this on college campuses in the book

and also in this new kind of comedy, which is represented most powerfully

by "South Park" itself.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, a lot of conservatives would be shocked that you talk about "South Park" being a conservative show.  I didn't watch it for a couple of years.  A friend told me, you've got to watch this episode and showed me an episode.  And I have not yet seen anything on television that goes after the left the way "South Park" does.

Now, political correctness, of course—well, I'll tell you what.  Why don't we just show a clip of "South Park" to help define what "South Park" conservatives are.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Kids, this is the Costa Rican Capitol Building.

This is where all the leaders of the Costa Rican government make their...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Oh, my God, it smells out here.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  All right, that does it.  Eric Cartman, you respect other cultures this instant.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  I wasn't saying anything about their culture.

I was just saying their city smells like ass.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Wow.  Staying in a place like this really makes you appreciate living in America, huh.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  You may think that making fun of Third World countries is funny, but let me...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  I don't think it's funny.  This place is overcrowded, smelly and poor.  That's not funny.  That sucks.


SCARBOROUGH:  That's the sort of thing you never see on mainstream media.  They go after Barbra Streisand.  In their latest movie, "Team America," they actually assassinate every liberal in Hollywood.


ANDERSON:  Yes.  In Hollywood, basically.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, so...

ANDERSON:  In horrible ways.

SCARBOROUGH:  So, what's going on with this subversive new humor?

ANDERSON:  Well, first of all, when you think about the history of humor, the last 30 years, it's been mostly directed at conservatives and—you know, at least when it's been topical humor.

You think of Norman Lear and "All in the Family" and "Maude."  And, even today, "Will & Grace" or "Whoopi," which was canceled a few years ago, these—topic humor is always to the left.  These guys saw an opportunity.  And cable made it possible.  This is the kind of show that would have never, never been broadcast on network television.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, what's so interesting is, I—when "The New York Times" ran a front-page story a year ago, they were actually talking about how this was a liberal show.  It was anti-God.  It was anti-religion, and the conservatives were angry.  You know, I just—I can't figure out how they got it so wrong.

ANDERSON:  Well, I mean, on occasion, they do go after the right.

They did a kind of merciless mocking of Mel Gibson.

And, you know, they're not equal-opportunity offenders, however.  If you really look at episode after episode, they go after multiculturalism, radical environmentalism, hate crime legislation, even abortion rights.


ANDERSON:  And when was the last time you saw anything in popular culture satirize something like that?

SCARBOROUGH:  And actually making—you talk about environmentalism -

·         actually making those people that were tearing down rain forests in South America the heroes of an episode.

ANDERSON:  That's right.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let's show another clip from "South Park."


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  You white Americans make me sick.  You waste food, oil, and everything else because you're so rich, and then you tell the rest of the world to save the rain forest because you like its pretty flowers.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  We're here live in San Jose, Costa Rica, where hundreds of Americans have gathered for the Save the Rain Forest Summit.  Everyone is here so they can feel good about themselves and act like they aren't the ones responsible for the rain forest's peril.


ANDERSON:  It's Comedy Central's most successful program.

And its demographic cuts pretty young.  And, as I explain in this book, "South Park Conservatives," there's a lot of this kind of activity going on, on campuses, too.

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about that.

ANDERSON:  Well, Harvard's Institute of Politics did a study about a year and a half ago that found that students were actually to the right of the general population in most of their views.

SCARBOROUGH:  So, what happens is, they go to class all day.  They listen to professors.

ANDERSON:  They listen to...


SCARBOROUGH:  ... that all have the same opinion, same political correct viewpoint.  They get tired of it.  They go home at night.

ANDERSON:  Well, think about it.

SCARBOROUGH:  And they become "South Park" conservatives.

ANDERSON:  Yes.  Well, there's a gun club at Harvard now.  And that's pretty strange when you think about it.

SCARBOROUGH:  It's very strange.

Well, thanks.  The book is "South Park Conservatives."  Thanks a lot for being with us tonight.  We greatly appreciate it.

ANDERSON:  Thanks a lot, Joe.  I really appreciate it.  Thanks for having me on.

The Natural Resources Defense Council says get prepared for the worst..

- for the Grateful Web

Dear NRDC BioGems Defender,

"What's going to happen if President Bush is reelected?"

That's a question I heard a lot last month. My answer was simple: we'll be shell-shocked for a day, and then NRDC will come out fighting for the like there's no tomorrow.

Well, the shock has set in. We've spent the better part of four years publicizing and challenging the president's assault on our forests, western wildlands and wildlife habitats. As a tax-deductible organization, NRDC could not oppose or support a candidate for president. But a lot of hopes were pinned on the ballot box as the fastest way to terminate the Bush administration's giveaways to logging, timber and mining companies.

Those hopes were dashed yesterday. The president prevailed, despite his horrific environmental record, which remains at odds with the views of the overwhelming majority of Americans.

We're stunned not so much by the outcome itself. After all, President Bush was a slight favorite to win this election. No, the look of distress on faces all around NRDC's offices today is true alarm at what lies ahead. As sweeping as this administration's attack on the environment has been, things are about to get worse. Perhaps much worse.

It was only the threat of the ballot box - of answering to the American people - that caused the Bush administration to backburner many of its most destructive plans. The White House has already signaled that the attacks of the past four years are but the leading edge of a much broader assault that will come in a second term.

Look for it to begin over the next few weeks with new attempts to auction off vast stretches of our Alaskan rainforest for clearcutting . . . open Greater Yellowstone and other beloved wildlands to oil and gas drilling . . . and hand over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to giant oil companies.

So, yes, take one full day for feeling shell-shocked.

But prepare yourself. Tomorrow the battle will be joined. And we must be ready.

You can take heart in this: thanks to your support, NRDC and our BioGems campaigns have succeeded in stalling, blocking or sinking the worst of President Bush's attempts so far to exploit and destroy our last wild places.

And let me tell you, the second Bush administration will have to contend with an NRDC that now wields the most potent combination of grassroots activism, courtroom power and media outreach ever assembled by one public interest organization.

That impressive operation - one million Members and BioGems Defenders, scores of attorneys, the best rapid response operation in the business - will be focused like a laser on stopping the onslaught to come.

Failure is not an option. Everything we have fought for and achieved over the past 35 years is at stake. In the weeks ahead, I will be reporting to you in more detail on NRDC's action plan for defending our last wild places during President Bush's second term.

But I can share one key element of that plan right now: you. We're counting on you to stay the course with our BioGems campaigns. We need your outrage. We need your activism. If we have those, we are going to prevail.


John H. Adams
Natural Resources Defense Council

BioGems: Saving Endangered Wild Places
A project of the Natural Resources Defense Council