By Yezdyar S. Kaoosji
Progressive singer satirist Roy Zimmerman says, “I get accused of preaching to the choir, but that’s not how I think of it. I think of it as entertaining the troops.” What better place than the sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno to preach to the choir of Fresno’s ever-growing and motivated troops of progressives? The UU Church Social Justice Committee and the Progressive Network of Central California are sponsoring Zimmerman’s performance on Aug. 23 as a benefit for KFCF FM-88.1 Free Speech Radio for the Central Valley.
The world is full of funny songs, but Zimmerman’s hilarious, rhyme-intensive originals are also incisive calls to action—smart, savvy and undeniable. Wake Up Call is 90 minutes of these songs—funny songs like “Abstain With Me” and “I Want a Marriage Like They Had in the Bible,” heartfelt songs like “Hope, Struggle and Change” and “I Approve This Message,” mingled with his impassioned comedic commentary.
Zimmerman has produced 13 albums over 20 years, bringing a sting of satire to the struggle for peace and social justice; has played on HBO and Showtime; has recorded for Warner/Reprise Records; and has been profiled on NPR’s All Things Considered. Zimmerman’s YouTube videos have amassed more than seven million views, and he is a featured blogger for the Huffington Post.
In 2012, Zimmerman and his wife and co-writer Melanie Harby traveled 47,000 miles to 161 shows in 49 states. “Even in the reddest of states,” Zimmerman reports, “we found bright blue dots…groups of people huddled together to do progressive work where it most needs to be done.”
Zimmerman’s songs take aim at politics, of course. There’s a plaintive lament about how hard it is “To Be a Liberal,” a rollicking indictment of the “socialist” policies of George W. Bush and Richard Nixon, and a tender ode to “Citizens United.” There are social targets as well: a lesson in “Creation Science 101,” a lambasting of the “Defenders of Marriage” who oppose same-sex unions and a “Sing-Along Second Amendment.”
In every state Zimmerman and Harby visited, they wrote a new verse to their song “Vote Republican!” Each takes a different satirical slant on the GOP election-year agenda. In the version recorded in Hyde Park, N.Y., for instance, Zimmerman sits down with the statues of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and teaches them how to save a faltering economy in words taken directly from Mitt Romney’s Web site. Check out this video for a preview of what to expect at his live show: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ege_RBhh37A.
Sing Out! magazine writes, “Zimmerman is a guy on the left skewering folks on the right with rapier-sharp lyrics…underneath the caustic satire is a man who is surprisingly optimistic.”
“Zimmerman lifted the evening,” reports Stephen Holden in the New York Times, “squawking and clucking his scorn with a contagious irreverence.”
Come and enjoy being a progressive with this evening of thoughtful fun and songs with Zimmerman, and support free speech radio KFCF FM 88.1.
Yezdyar Kaoosji is a steering committee member of the Progressive Network of Central California and a board member of the California Association of Nonprofits. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roy Zimmerman: Wake Up Call!
Friday, August 23, 2013, at 7:30 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno
2672 E. Alluvial Ave. (between Chestnut & Willow)
Admission: $18 (or pay what you can)
For more information, e-mail Steve Sacks at email@example.com