Drive-By Truckers were recently booked to play a private event that coincides with the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL. After certain conditions were not met, the group recently cancelled their scheduled performance. In order to clear any misunderstandings, Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood has issued the following statement:
_Just want to set the record straight. DBT is not playing for the RNC this year or any other year. I generally never say never, but there, I said it.+
We had been offered a show, a well paying show for a private entity that is having an event that is in Tampa and coincides with the RNC. It is an entity that we have played for before. We played our usual show (yes, we did play Puttin’ People on the Moon with the original Reagan lyric intact) and although I wouldn’t say we were beloved, were well received and we felt appreciated. We were never asked to ‘tone it down’ and certainly would have refused if otherwise.
Frankly, we’ve always been proud of the diversity of our audience and are thankful for the many Republicans (Independents, Libertarians, Socialists and Democrats) that appreciate our band. Cooley and I say what we want, no matter who’s there, and folks can like us or not. We are thankful for all of the ones who do (unless they’re getting into a fight or being a rude asshole, in which case I’d rather you stay home). We are certainly a very political band but try hard to never grandstand about it. The characters in our songs have all kinds of beliefs, many that are different from our own and we always try to treat our characters and our audience with respect. We are entertainers and take entertaining seriously.
When approached for this current show, we made sure it was understood that we would be playing our show exactly the way we want to play it. (Puttin’ People on the Moon would be played with whatever name in the Reagan verse we felt like).
We asked if it were to be publicized or open to the public and were told it would not be. We have recently played Tampa and aren’t looking for another local play this soon (we love Tampa and don’t want to burn it out). We also didn’t want to be viewed as endorsing the Republican Party or their views. Fine for folks who feel that way, but we don’t and don’t want it to be assumed otherwise.
We were emphatically told that it was a private function, not open to the public and there would be no press coverage. We’re not being sneaky, but playing a private function is not the same as having a public face shown hanging out at the RNC. That’s not who we are.
Let me put that another way:
We are entertainers and we get paid to entertain people. Sometimes there might be people paying us to entertain that we might not necessarily agree with; but you can entertain people without being perceived as sharing their views. Playing a show during an election cycle for a party we don’t endorse and being publicly linked to it implies a sort of endorsement (or possibly worse; indifference). Everyone has lines they draw and that was our thinking in the line we drew.
It has come to my attention that these pre-conditions have not been honored and so we will not be playing this event. We are on hiatus and have payrolls to meet and insurance and rent and babies always need new pairs of shoes, but we will make it work. Our feelings about these things are way too important to us sell it out for the quick buck. Perhaps it’s a wakeup call that we were getting too close to that line in the first place.
Anyway, hopefully this clears up where we stand on these things. Life is full of compromises and we try our best to balance between our ideals and the necessary evils of supporting so many families in this economy. I’ll try harder next time.
Drive-By Truckers will perform at Asheville NC’s Orange Peel on August 17 and 18.