On June 4, 2014, about 800 supporters, benefactors, volunteers, and lovers of great live music celebrated HeadCount’s tenth anniversary with a benefit at the Brooklyn Bowl. Meanwhile, over 20,000 watched a live stream of the show on TourGigs. The energy was tangible the entire night, keeping the house full through the very end of the show. The benefit was also the official Mountain Jam kickoff party.
The music, presented by Qello, was a non-stop and high caliber jam. Headlining the benefit concert were Bob Weir and Ratdog, longtime partners of HeadCount. Marc Brownstein, bassist of the Disco Biscuits and HeadCount’s own co-chair, played as a guest for a few songs. Also adding to the festivities were guests Eric Krasno of Lettuce and Soulive, Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey’s McGee, Ryan Zoidis and Eric Bloom of the Lettuce Horns, and Alecia Chakour.
John Popper of Blues Traveler made a surprise appearance during the first set on “Little Red Rooster.” Brownstein then made his first ever appearance with Weir to kick off the second set with rousing renditions of Grateful Dead classics “Shakedown Street” and “Bertha.” The entire second set was a string of sit-ins, perhaps highlighted by Eric Krasno on the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence.” Nels Cline of Wilco joined in for the encore, performing “Franklin’s Tower” and “Turn On Your Lovelight” with the band.
The evening also had a message to it. HeadCount’s Executive Director Andy Bernstein gave a speech thanking the HeadCount team of volunteers, staff, and partners for making ten years of civic action possible. The audience, dancing, singing, and cheering for the whole night, showed its love simultaneously for the music of Bob Weir and Ratdog as well as the mission of HeadCount. Ultimately, the event was not only a success in itself but also a taste of how HeadCount drives political participation through music.