In 1973, the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade defined the choice to have an abortion as a fundamental right for women in the United States. This Sunday, 40 years later, it’s time to rejoice.
On Jan. 20, the Pinhook in downtown Durham is hosting Rock for Roe: 40th Anniversary Celebration. The show will benefit North Carolina’s chapter of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL). Duke’s radio station, WXDU, an affiliate of Duke University Union, is sponsoring the event.
“The event is an opportunity to honor the decision in Roe and raise awareness about current attempts by our state government to erode the rights we’ve been working for decades to protect. North Carolina is facing one of the most extreme and conservative legislative climates in recent memory,” said Suzanne Buckley, executive director of NARAL NC, an organization that lobbies and advocates for pro-choice North Carolinians. “The tremendous response we’ve received for this event demonstrates what we already know—the majority of people believe that women should have access to what’s needed to care for their health and their lives.”
Buckley described the evening’s performers as “strong believers in a woman’s right to make informed reproductive choices” and praised them as “pro-choice champions.” Classic rock favorites are the specialty of Blooz Travellerzz, a group that consists of members of Mount Moriah, a Triangle favorite, and Hiss Golden Messenger, who performed at last year’s Hopscotch Music Festival. Creedence Queerwater Revival, a cover band in the best possible way, is made up of members of Midtown Dickens and Trip Knight. WXDU DJs will be spinning records between sets to keep the good vibes going.
John Darnielle, the lead singer, guitarist and often solo performer of The Mountain Goats, will perform a self-described “rare-these-days old-school just-John hesher-neck-snap take-requests style set.” Darnielle, who moved to Durham ten years ago, has a history of involvement with local politics. He has participated in other NC benefits, such as the Protect NC Families Benefit at Motorco in Apr. 2012 in protest of Amendment One, a bill that strictly limits the definition of a valid domestic union and threatens the rights of both homosexual and heterosexual couples. His Twitter account is a stream of consciousness rife with references to dragons, death metal, and most importantly, pro-choice and pro-women ideology. Darnielle also has “a good relationship” with WXDU, according to Jake Cunnane, general manager of the station and Trinity junior.
“WXDU doesn’t do specific political advocacy. We don’t take positions on issues, but we’re very pro-Durham. This is a big event and we’re excited to be involved with people we’ve done things with in the past, people who we really like,” said Cunnane. The collaboration between the Pinhook and WXDU has been emerging since the Pinhook’s establishment four years ago, and the two are “a good fit” according to Pinhook owner Kym Register.
“[The Pinhook] doesn’t necessarily have a political agenda, but we have a safe space in which to be political,” said Register, who is also a member of Midtown Dickens. “XDU’s got their hands on a few great things going around town, so I think it was a natural connection. Everyone’s really willing to help each other out with this, too. It’s a benefit. A bunch of people getting together to use their skills and time for an organization that kicks ass.”
For those who managed to get tickets, it will be much more than a celebration of good local music. The night will be an opportunity to reflect on the constant fight to achieve and maintain rights for women. Register believes that the promise of an entertaining show will give NARAL NC the publicity it deserves.
“I hope that at this event, big music heads will come to see The Mountain Goats, and then realize that they’re there for the NARAL cause,” Register said. “That’s the really important connection between music and politics. It’s a connection that we need to preserve.”
Pinhook presents Rock for Roe this Sunday at 7 p.m. The show is sold out.