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December 17, 2009

Rock Tour Reflection: Band of Animal Advocates Reaches Thousands

This fall, The HSUS's Christine Gutleben joined The Myriad on a coast-to-coast odyssey for animals

The Humane Society of the United States


by Christine Gutleben

The All Creatures tour started in Vienna, Va. on Sept. 30 and ended in Montecito, Calif. on Oct. 28. Over 30 days, I traveled with The Myriad to 25 cities. Our small group reached thousands of people, on and off the stage, through song, conversation, and simply by example of being people who care about animals.

An education

One of the most rewarding aspects of the tour was witnessing the impact of the band members and the rest of the traveling crew on fans and students across the country. Before the journey began, each member researched the work of HSUS online. They watched videos on our campaigns and programs. They read through our literature. By the end, they each had stories about the impact of the work of The HSUS on their lives and a personal take on what animal activism means to them.

Jeremy Edwardson, singer, funnyman and animal advocate

When talking to Jeremy Edwardson, the band's singer, I learned that his mother has been a member of HSUS and other animal protection organizations for years. He misses his collie, Marley, when on the road, and to lessen the longing, his wife sends him pictures of their pup while he's gone. He also told me that images from our End Dog Fighting video inspire his activism.

Despite the long drives and very little sleep, Jeremy kept us all laughing. "We have to rescue Marley's mom!" he said when he learned that most puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills.

Jeremy and his wife, Meg, had their first child weeks after the tour.  

Steven Tracey, guitar: factory farming "an issue for this generation"

I met Steven Tracey, the guitarist and keyboardist, back in early June before the rest of the band. In many ways, Steven is responsible for the tour. According to Tim Taber, The Myriad's manager, when Steven was presented with the opportunity to tour with The HSUS, Steven responded with a lengthy email about the importance of our issues, referring to factory farming as "an issue for this generation."  

Steven wore The HSUS anti-fur pin at every show this month, which no doubt contributed to its popularity. The pins were always gone at the end of the night. He is an incredibly sincere and effective voice for animals. He knows a lot about the issues and sat on every daytime panel we hosted. People listen to him, they wear anti-fur pins if he wears them, and they take home copies of Eating Mercifully if he says it's an important film.

Randy Miller, drummer, responsible for reducing animal suffering

Randy Miller, the band's drummer, speaks passionately about his family, the rewarding aspects of marriage, and the importance of finding a vocation one cares about. He can back a trailer down a narrow alley like a pro, a skill he developed during his many years in construction, and his hands rarely stop beating the steering wheel while he is driving. It seems the drum beat has seeped into Randy's bones.

Randy describes the issue of animal cruelty as an issue of responsibility. He admits that like many Americans, he was unaware of how food got to his plate. He said that after watching Eating Mercifully, and learning about the cruelties of factory farming, he was "faced with a choice." He felt responsible, after learning how animals are treated, to reduce animal suffering by not supporting the industry.

Leading by example

In addition to the band members, there were four other people on the road with us. I can't imagine the tour without each of these people and their distinct personalities and contributions.

Daniel

Daniel Kalte, the band's tour manager, set the schedule each day, drove for much of the trip, often taking the late night shifts. He organized logistics and served as the band's sound manager. At home, Daniel manages the sound for Bethel, a large charismatic church in northern California.

Never underestimate the power of being a positive, tolerant example. Whether in a bar, or club, or coffeehouse, there are countless opportunities to make compassionate choices.

Foster

"Everything Foster does is distinctly Foster." That is how Tracey described merchandise supervisor Foster Lovelace one morning as he walked toward the van carrying several bags of snacks and a Big Gulp. I laughed at this apt and insightful description. Foster, an old soul in an 18-year-old body, helped display and distribute HSUS materials at the band's booth and followed every description of The HSUS with, "They're awesome." 

While at the Hard Rock Café in Philadelphia, Penn., he met a waitress and later described the encounter as, "love at first sight." He graciously endured Jeremy's onstage rendition of this story at several subsequent shows, which served as an introduction to the band's song, "Disappointed Together."

Kimberly

Until Kimberly met us at the Lakeshore Theater in Chicago, I was the only woman on the tour. I was so grateful to have my sister's company (she lives across the country from me in San Diego, Calif.). She also made the more questionable hotel rooms a little less scary. At her third show in Indianapolis, she took over the merchandise table for Foster, who, at 18, wasn't allowed in the club. My sister threw on one of The Myriad's shirts and, along with passing out HSUS literature, sold CD's, posters, pins and stickers for the band. During the tour, Kimberly took on the role of photographer, videographer and hotel organizer.

Jennifer

Jennifer Fearing, HSUS's California Senior State Director and a good friend, joined us for the final week of the tour, meeting two bedraggled sisters and a tired band in Austin, Texas. Jennifer greeted us outside La Zona Rosa club with her characteristic energy and delicious homemade cookies. I'd picked up a cold, and when it worsened, Jennifer took over my duties. That night, with virtually no instruction, she helped my sister at the booth and gave a fabulous speech following the band's set. Oh, and did I mention she was on "vacation?"

It is truly inspiring to reflect on the time and talents that each of these people gave to spread a message of compassion across the nation. Never underestimate the power of being a positive, tolerant example. Whether in a bar, or club, or coffeehouse, there are countless opportunities to make compassionate choices. Each of us can be a unique voice for animals.     

2009 Shows

10/7 NYC, NY Highline Ballroom
10/8 Rochester, NY Water Street Music Hall
10/9 Pittsburgh, PA  Hard Rock Café
10/10    Chicago, IL Lakeshore Theater
10/11  Grand Rapids, MI  The Intersection
10/12 Ann Arbor, MI The Blind Pig
10/14 Huntington, IN 509 (Huntington University)
10/15 Indianapolis, IN Birdy's
10/16 Nashville, TN 3rd & Lindsley
10/17 Atlanta, GA Vinyl
10/18 Orlando, FL The Social
10/20 Houston, TX House of Blues
10/21 Austin, TX La Zona Rosa
10/22  Waco, TX Baylor University
10/23 Dallas, TX Prophet Bar
10/25 Phoenix, AZ Martini Ranch
10/26 San Diego, CA  Point Loma Nazarene University
10/28     Santa Barbara, CA    Westmont College

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