Western Kentucky native and Sounds Good veteran S.G. Goodman (Shaina Goodman of the former Savage Radley) has partnered with Kentucky state representative Charles Booker to present Which Side Are You On?: Voices for Kentucky and Beyond Virtual Music Festival. The online livestream features a lineup of Kentucky and non-Kentucky musicians alike and will focus on voter registration ahead of the November election. Goodman speaks with Tracy Ross about the upcoming festival.
The idea for What Side Are You On?: Voices for Kentucky and Beyond started in May with a conversation between Goodman and Jim James of My Morning Jacket. James, Goodman, and Goodman's manager then reached out to the Rural Organizing Project and Hood to the Holler, Charles Booker's new progressive coalition. Due to both Goodman and James' involvement in Musicians for Booker and Goodman taking time to focus on her recent album release, the politically-rooted virtual music fest was pushed back to just before the November election. "I've been looking forward to the day where I could put all my energy into this," Goodman says. "This has been a secret for many months."
The partnering coalition, Hood to the Holler, was started by Kentucky state representative Booker. "He is using that coalition to build progressive leaders through Kentucky [and] to assist in civic engagement education throughout the state. Right now, a part of our festival [focuses on] voters in Kentucky who have recently had their rights restored. It's estimated that over 170,000 non-violent ex-felons now are able to go to the polls. [Hood to the Holler] is doing a lot of great work across the state, both politically and for civil rights. I think no matter the outcome in November, I'm going to be very happy to have gotten behind an organization that's going to continue to invest in Kentucky."
While Goodman wasn't sure whether to only include musicians from Kentucky on the festival's lineup, she ultimately decided against it, saying, "Kentucky politics are national politics this year. Our senator Mitch McConnell is the rest of the world's Senate majority leader just like he's ours. There's consequences for every American because of that. I feel like we have a really good mix of really heavy hitters and up and coming bands on the roster. We also have some really great forces from outside of Kentucky -- Jason Isbell, St. Paul and the Broken Bones...Durand Jones [& The Indications]...Phoebe Bridgers and Bright Eyes have joined. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if before October 1st, we have a few more people who are going to be surprise participants."
For more information on the virtual festival taking place on October 1st, Goodman says to visit Hood to the Hollar's website. There will also be information on featured artists' social media. As far as the actual livestream performances, Goodman explains that due to new legalities around musical livestream experiences via Facebook, the festival will be presented on Twitch and streamed to Amazon and Youtube. "This isn't going to live anywhere," Goodman adds. "You can't see some of these people on our lineup ever together again probably. So I think this is really special, and I hope everybody wants to get involved and check it out."
"I feel like our main purpose of this festival is to really engage with people who may not be aware that they have a right to go to the polls this year, and I'm speaking specifically to voting-age high school students. People who are going to be taking part in an election for the first time in their lives. If you know someone who falls in that category, if you know a non-violent ex-felon, just check in on and them and say, have you registered to vote? Can I help you do that? Democracy works best when everyone's voice is heard. That's what we are doing, and I feel like that's the only way to make sure that democracy works best. To have the majority have their say. That's what I would say to people, and a great way to get them that info is to have them check out this festival," Goodman concludes.