[Marxism] Country Joe is back ... Berkeley, this Sunday

lshan at bcn.net lshan at bcn.net
Fri Apr 16 16:34:55 MDT 2004

"I've been trying to bring the band back together for a long time,
especially since I'd been unsuccessful in getting other musicians to play
the psychedelic music of that era," McDonald said. "I started working on it
about six months ago, and it soon became apparent that Barry Melton's
schedule was too full, and since he's the 'Fish,' we're now the Country Joe
Band. We're sounding very good."

Lead guitarist Melton now heads the Yolo County Public Defenders Office in
Woodland, supervising the 21 lawyers who represent poor and indigent
criminal defendants and playing gigs in clubs across Northern California.

The band's partial reunion was sparked by the announcement that the World
Peace Music Awards had decided to honor them as American musicians who lent
their musical talent to the movement to end the war in Vietnam.

Other recipients of the "Life of Peace" awards at the June 26 ceremony in
Hanoi are other veterans of Berkeley in the '60s: Joan Baez, Bob Dylan,
Harry Belafonte, the folk-singing trio Peter Paul and Mary, and the late
Vietnamese composer Trinh Cong Son.

Meanwhile, the "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" has renewed meaning in
the days of an Iraqi war that is being increasingly compared to Vietnam. "A
lot of young people haven't heard the rag, but a lot have because of the
Woodstock film. We'll be doing some of the psychedelic instrumentals and
love songs from our first two albums, a few songs from Woody Guthrie, and a
new song, "Cakewalk to Baghdad," about the Iraq war," McDonald said, leaning
back in his perch on the comfortable couch in his 1915 home on a quiet North
Berkeley street.

"We're thinking about making a CD, but we're just handling it one day at a
time. We'll just see what happens."

One hopeful sign for longtime fans is the planned DVD of an upcoming
performance in Sebastopol, part of a tour that includes the Berkeley

"What we hope to do with our tour is provide a little humor and validate our
audiences' goodness," McDonald said. "We play pretty nice and we try to make
fun of the president‹a fine old American tradition. We hope to have a few
reverent moments." The he grinned. "And maybe make a few bucks, too."

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