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As a veteran director of countless indie community theater productions, Anne Drecktrah is the ideal person to spearhead La Crosse’s contribution to the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence.

“I’ve spent my life asking people to do things for little or no money,” Drecktrah said with a laugh.

About six weeks ago, Drecktrah saw a post on Facebook seeking organizers for local events to be part of Concert Across America, an event launched by the Boston-based Stop Handgun Violence organization that has since drawn participation from more than 100 other groups.

The mission of Concert Across America is simple: “Bring together a network of organizations, activists, and artists with the dual goals of keeping guns out of dangerous hands and making the issue of gun violence prevention top of mind for members of Congress, the presidential candidates, and the American people as they go to the polls in November 2016,” according to a recent press release.

The driving force behind spreading the word about the event has been social media, and the method has worked in La Crosse. Drecktrah posted a Concert Across America link on Facebook, and the first people who “liked” her post — Diane Breeser and Susan Fox — were drawn in as event co-chairs.

Drecktrah, Breeser and Fox have been fast friends since they all worked on a production of “Becky’s New Car” at the Pump House Regional Arts Center about five years ago. With help from a core group of other folks, the three women have worked up what might be the most ambitious Concert Across America event in the country. La Crosse’s event will take place at four sites over the course of more than eight hours. Entertainment will include more than a dozen musical acts, dancers, theater, poetry and storytelling.

In addition, the day will feature a wide variety of speakers, including experts in social work and mental health, university professors Richard Breaux and Keith Knutson, and elected officials, including La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat, state Rep. Jill Billings and Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, who lost her parents to gun violence.

The day will start at The Root Note with Blind Baby Olin and the Workbenches as the host band. The event will then move to Stolpa’s Stein Haus with Mr. Blink as host. Next up will be the Pump House with the Pigtown Fling String Band. The event will end with a candlelight vigil, choir and group singalong in Riverside Park.

The music won’t necessarily be related to gun violence, said Kit Mayer of Blind Baby Olin, who has helped to recruit musical acts and organize the event, but the power of music will play a key role in the La Crosse event and others across the country.

“There’s just something about creating that sense of togetherness and peace. It doesn’t necessarily have to be gun-related so much as human-related,” said Mayer, who noted that recruiting fellow musicians to help out was pretty easy. “I didn’t find anybody who wasn’t willing to jump in and help. I just think a lot of people have a concern about this and also enjoy performing in front of people.”

Drecktrah, who described herself as an “old 1960s activist,” agreed that the musical element of the Concert Across America could help move the needle on the issue of gun violence. “It’s been very true forever that music is a great way to raise social awareness. People (in power) are always more scared when artists get involved,” she said.

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“Music and art and dance are so much more meaningful than words. Sometimes words just don’t quite do it,” Breeser added. “Through these different forms of expression, it will resonate in people more deeply. I’m really excited about it and so thrilled at the lineup we have.”

Among the well-known musical artists who will take part in the day’s events across the U.S. are Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross, Carnie Wilson, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Don Felder (formerly of The Eagles) and Kate Pierson of the B-52s, and there are more musicians joining up all the time. Just last week it was announced that Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder would join the New York City concert at the Beacon Theatre, which also will include Jackson Browne and two artists who have been directly impacted by gun violence, Marc Cohn and Roseanne Cash.

The date for Concert Across America was chosen to coincide with the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims, which dates back to a Congressional declaration in 2007. But Drecktrah, Breeser and Fox agreed it’s important to remember that gun violence goes beyond murders. About 60 percent of the more than 30,000 annual gun-related deaths in this country are suicides, and gun violence has an impact on many people beyond just those who die from gunshots.

In addition to music, La Crosse’s Concert Across America event will include something no other city will have: a sneak peak of a brand new play, “26 Pebbles.” The play was inspired by the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in which the gunman killed 20 first-graders and six teachers before killing himself. The world premiere production of the play, written by Eric Ulloa, opens Oct. 14 at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and UW-L actors will perform a selection from the play at the Pump House for Concert Across America.

The organizers of the La Crosse event all cited the Sandy Hook shooting as something they thought would bring about changes in gun laws, and the disappointment that changes didn’t come about in the aftermath of that tragedy lingers.

“Everybody thought that this would be the point where our country would step up and it wasn’t,” Breeser said. “This is crazy. I mean, we should have background checks. There’s a reasonable way to do this.”

So can a one-day, nationwide awareness event like Concert Across America really help bring about change when a heartbreaking tragedy like Sandy Hook didn’t? Maybe not, but Drecktrah said it should be “the first step in an ongoing conversation.”

Fox had her doubts about whether this event will bring about “lots of massive big change,” but she also saw it as a good step in that direction. “I kind of look at it as cracking the window and letting some fresh air in,” she said. “I know I sound like a peace loving hippy, but we just need to try to understand each other and be kind.

“I think it’s going to be wonderful,” Fox continued. “I think I’m going to meet a lot of new people and see a lot of old friends. I hope a lot of people come out. I’m excited to have people feel that kind of impassioned spirit of ‘we can make a change if we do this together.’”

Like Drecktrah, Mayer suggested that the Concert Across America will open a dialogue, but he said it might be a dialogue that continues as an annual event, gaining strength. “It’ll be interesting to see if this is a continuing thing here from year to year. It seems like it could be and should be,” Mayer said. “And even if it turns out to be a rather smallish kind of thing this year, you know, we gave it a shot.”

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(17) comments

Holloway

Just so you know this concert is happening in over 350 locations across the nation. Those of us participating are not just cutesy-wutesy "ladies" with our heads in the clouds. Many of those who are speaking are victims of gun violence and have every right to have their voices heard. Also, don't assume that people who oppose gun-violence also oppose guns (when they are used legally & responsibly). At least we are trying to do something. Organizing 3 events with over 30 speakers is not a little task and the organizers deserve better than to be written off as "out of touch" women.

real life Justice

Just enforce the laws on the books. We don't need anymore laws. Sing all you want as long as the criminal have guns nothing will change. Wake up.

Climatehoax

Mach, you may THINK your voting against a bigot, BUT, YOU WOULD BE WRONG
Hillary bigotry
If the media wants to focus on the racism of the presidential candidates, why are they ignoring these 10 prime examples:

#1 – In 1974, after Bill Clinton lost his bid for a Senate seat, Hillary lashed out at campaign manager Paul Fray calling him a, “f*cking Jew b@st@rd!” This outburst was witnessed and confirmed by 3 people, so it definitely happened.

#2 – As First Lady, Hillary called young black men “super-predators” indicating that she thought all young black males were violent criminals. She also said, “We have to bring them to heel,” like young blacks are the same as dogs. Despite thinking this was incredibly racist, blacks still support Hillary.

#3 – While serving in the US Senate, Hillary tried to make a joke that disparaged a civil rights icon and demeaned all people from India. “I love this quote. It’s from Mahatma Gandhi. He ran a gas station down in St. Louis for a couple of years. Mr. Gandhi, do you still go to the gas station?” asked Clinton.

#4 – In 2005 Hillary said, “I am adamantly against illegal immigrants.” She also, as a Senator, voted to construct a wall between the US and Mexico. Considering the main “proof” of Trump’s racism is that he opposes illegal immigration and wants to build a wall, isn’t it odd that Hillary gets off for having said the same thing?

#5 – During the 2008 democratic primaries Hillary Clinton’s campaign started the “birther” rumors, questioning Obama’s US citizenship. They even circulated the now famous picture of Obama in full Muslim garb. Somehow Trump’s campaign to get Obama to release his birth certificate is racist, but Hillary’s role in starting the birther movement is not.

#6 – Also during the 2008 presidential race, Hillary’s husband Bill said this of Obama: “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.” Hillary didn’t say this one but her husband did and she certainly never disavowed it.

#7 – Shortly after announcing her candidacy, Hillary said “all lives matter” in a black church. I don’t think this one is racist, but lefties, black activists, and Hillary herself all do, so it makes the list. Plus as is the case with most of this stuff, if Trump had said it liberals would freak the hell out.

#8 – In November of 2015, Hillary called people in this country illegally “illegal aliens.” Trump is a racist when he says “illegal aliens,” why isn’t Hillary?

#9 – In April of this year, Hillary joined NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio on stage at a democratic fundraiser for a scripted joke about how lazy black people are. The two liberals made reference to “colored people’s time” which is a super-racist way of saying black people are chronically tardy and lethargic.

#10 – April was a great month for Hillary’s racism, as she also made a comment disparaging Native Americans. She said she had experience dealing with wild men when they “get off the reservation.” In essence she said Native Americans are savages who must be segregated from the rest of society.

As a bonus:

#11 – On a black radio show, Hillary pandered to black voters by claiming she always carries hot sauce in her purse. It was racist when Donald Trump pandered Hispanics by eating a taco bowl, but not racist when Hillary pandered blacks. How does that work?

dopey

Don't confuse Machi with the facts, he isn't smart enough to understand them. He gets a little crazy this time of the month, he is probably out of cash and doesn't get his benefits for a couple more weeks.

Redwall

How nice they will perform in La Crosse. What are their performance dates for St Louis, Baltimore, Philly, Detroit and Chicago?

No harm done I suppose. It does serve to identify the naive nuts among us.

beagle

All 350+ Concerts Across America to End Gun Violence happen on ONE day, September 25, which has been a day set aside to remember murder victims. Check the website concertacrossamerica.org for a map, among other info.

Machiavelli

[thumbdown][thumbdown][thumbdown]Re: "Entertainment will include more than a dozen musical acts, dancers, theater, poetry and storytelling."

..musical acts are very cutesy-wootsy and all that, but I suspect these nice ladies know nothing about how to prevent real violence. Most people fall into the same camp, for example, the KTTC news anchor last night referred to the Minnesota mall stabber as "the gunman."

It took a man with a gun to bring a halt to the stabbings. Two murdered female joggers in NYC recently had no gun, thanks to crazy NY gun control laws. One of the joggers was literally burned by her attacker. Where are you going to find a musical act to address that?

Jogger found dead was naked, burned, state police sources say

http://www.wcvb.com/news/police-search-for-missing-jogger/41096848

"The Well Armed Woman"

http://thewellarmedwoman.com/

LAX

Since you are apparently an expert on preventing "real violence" please tell us how to do that? And tell us what have YOU done lately to help stop violence, whether by gun or knife? You love to project yourself with an opinion on just about every topic that comes up in the Trib, but seldom, if ever, is there any useful information in your posts.

Machiavelli

[ninja][ninja][ninja]Without identifying myself to stupidly make myself a target for Internet crazies, to answer your question truthfully: Yes, I've directly and recently stopped several crimes with a gun. If a criminal gang invaded my home today, they'd all be quickly killed, even if they were armed with AKs and were equipped with bullet-proof vests. That's not bragging, that's a fact.. yes, I'm really that well-prepared. I'm not native to this area, I'm from a big city therefore my doors are kept locked, I have alarms and good locks, ... and I carry guns, usually more than one gun.

What are you advocating for here? Defenselessness and helplessness against real criminal opponents? Why would you encourage people to walk around with no means to deal with violent crime? When you do that, you do real harm.

Here's something I know is useful.. how to turn yourself from a sheep into a wolf...

Thunder Ranch Defensive Handgun (Part 1)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZa5iZeEpnw

Thunder Ranch Defensive Handgun (Part 2)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPcO58Pk6Z8

dopey

And you are voting for a democrat?

http://freedomoutpost.com/america-doesnt-have-a-gun-problem-it-has-a-democrat-problem/

Machiavelli

[alien][alien][alien]I am voting against a bigot.

Buggs Raplin

Here's how you stop most violence in the US. You legalize all drugs, and pretty much end the slaughter in the inner cities. Additionally, you save billions of tax dollars with a reduction in the criminal justice system. You'll need less prison guards, fewer judges, fewer prosecutors, fewer lawyers, fewer probation agents. Our neighborhoods would be much safer as most dealers and their illegal weapons would be out of business. That is the best solution to violence, but we're too stupid to do it. By the by, most gun deaths are suicides, and much of the recent violence has been carried out by Islamists, but Obama and Hillary just can't say the words, 'radical Islam.' No, that would be politically incorrect. God save us from most Democrats. The country is in danger, and they're worried about saying something offensive.

dopey

LAX, every single gun owner with a conceal carry permit makes us all safer. The deadbeat democrat criminals have to think twice, because they never know who has a gun. The mall stabber in Minnesota guessed wrong.

Buggs Raplin

Hillary wants your guns; get over your PC BS, and vote Trump.

Machiavelli

[pirate][pirate][pirate]Donald "Bigot" Trump is a prime reason you should keep your guns, especially if you are Hispanic. If Trump goons come to your house to deport your family, shoot them.

"Duke Identifies Trump’s Racist Dog Whistle on Immigration"

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2016/09/03/duke-identifies-trumps-racist-dog-whistle-on-immigration/

Climatehoax

If they come to deport your family, your family is here illegally, and SHOULD be deported.

dopey

"The data shown in Figure 2 was partitioned to highlight the firearm homicide rate for different levels of Democrat precinct partisanship, as shown in Table 2. For example, the precincts that gave President Obama more than 90% of the vote contained 13% of the Louisiana population and almost 56% of the firearm homicides. The resulting firearm homicide rate was 33.4 per 100,000 people; a level only seen in the most violent third-world countries. In contrast, the firearm homicide rate per 100,000 people for the precincts that gave President Obama less than 50% of the vote was 2.5, 1.0, and 0.4 for Louisiana, Virginia, and Minnesota, respectively"

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/01/guns_dont_kill_people_democrats_kill_people.html#ixzz4Kju1WEnH
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