Voices For Justice Rally/Concert Coverage

by Kathy Davis on August 29, 2010

Ed appeared in Little Rock Arkansas on Saturday August 28th, 2010 – here is Two Feet Thick’s  coverage of the Voices For Justice event of which he was a huge part.

Here’s the full moment- by- moment list of what went on:

Opening speeches from Rev. Thompson Murray, Capi Peck from Arkansas Take Action

Video from Damien Echols

Eddie Vedder: Rise, It Rains On Me (Tom Waits)

Lisa Blount: Mercedes Benz

Greeting from Lorri Davis

Bill Carter and Will Sexton: Something Made Of Paper

Video from Henry Rollins

Johnny Depp reading from Damien Echols' journal

Eddie Vedder: The Times They Are A Changin’ (Bob Dylan), Open All Night (Bruce Springsteen)

Fistful of Mercy: Fistful Of Mercy, Restore Me, My Father’s Son

Natalie Maines: Death’s Got A Warrant, If I Had My Way, Free Life (Dan Wilson), I Smell A Rat

Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines: Golden State (John Doe, You Can Close Your Eyes (James Taylor)

Eddie Vedder with Johnny Depp on guitar: Society

Patti Smith: My Blakean Year, Wings, Dancing Barefoot

Finale (all): People Have The Power

Our band’s Ed Vedder is a longtime supporter of justice for the release of the West Memphis Three – Damien Echols, Jessie Miskelley Jr and Jason Baldwin. You likely already know that the three were tried and wrongfully convicted in the 1993 death of three children – Damien to death, the other two for life imprisonment.

Ed leant his voice and music in support of the Three at a “Voices For Justice” rally in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Also appearing was Natalie Maines of Dixie Chicks, Patti Smith, Johnny Depp supergroup Fistful of Mercy (featuring Ben Harper, Dhani Harrison (song of George) and Joseph Arthur) and Lorri Davis – wife of Damien Echols.

When the event was originally announced,  it was to be held at local Methodist church at a 700 capacity hall, with tickets $500 and up. Ed encouraged the organizers to change the event to a a more accessible-to-the-general-public priced ticket, to be held at the 2600-seat Robinson Hall. Here’s a snippet about that from the Arkansas Times:

(Damien Echols’ wife Lorri Davis and) ATA organizers wanted to hold the event somewhere more quiet and respectful, like a church. As the Times reported, the rally was initially slated for the Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church.

“I don’t know anything about coordinating a big event like this, and it turned out that, logistically, the church didn’t make sense,” Davis said.

But then Robinson Center stepped in and, with prodding from Vedder, ATA decided to steer the event away from a high-ticket-priced benefit and into a rally with an affordable $25 ticket. As a consequence, Davis said, Vedder and Pearl Jam are likely to go into the red for the event.

The event ran approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes; amongst the highlights (for which we gratefully thank our pal AKM) were:

-Ed,  threaded throughout the evening,  performing  Bob Dylan’s “Times The Are A Changin’ “, “Rise”,  John Doe cover “Golden State” with Natalie Maines

-Ed and Johnny Depp performing Jerry Hannan’s “Society” (from “Into The Wild”), with Johnny Depp accompanying him on guitar and playing the solo;

-Johnny accompanying Patti Smith, and Ed and Johnny backing Patti Smith on two songs, including “Dancing Barefoot” (she called them “the boys”), during which Ed sang along off mic, seeming enamored to be onstage with Patti.

-At different times during the event, Ed and Johnny did readings from Damien Echols journal.

-Ed introduced Fistful of Mercy by explaining that the three of them were just in his (West Seattle) backyard a couple of nights previous, sitting around a campfire and Ed was speaking of his involvement in the rally trying to encourage them to lend their support, and the four of them held hands around the campfire to pray for the cause. Ed said it was the first time he prayed in his life, and that his prayers were answered because after that, Ben said “we gotta come”!

-The rally closed everyone singing Patti’s “People Have The Power”,  a song VERY familiar to we PJ people.

Here is an interview with WM3 publicist Lonnie Soury from Little Rock TV station KTHV, broadcast to explain the motivation behind the rally:                

Here are pictures from the pre-event press conference, three of which were contributed generously by the man, the legend The Rob:

Coverage of Press Conference from the Arkansas Times:

Arkansas Take Action held a press conference this afternoon to talk about tonight’s much-anticipated event, but also, and more importantly, to talk about the West Memphis Three, new developments in the case and supporters’ efforts to raise awareness. Dennis Riordan, an attorney for Damien Echols, talked about new DNA evidence that proves Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were wrongly convicted. According to a press release from ATA, DNA testing links Terry Hobbs, stepfather of one of the victims to the crime scene.

Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder were on hand. Both have supported the WM3 for years. Vedder said he and Pearl Jam had tried to stay in the background and help out when and where they could.

“We weren’t interested in doing anything publicly before. I think Natalie and I are both in pretty well-respected bands, but I didn’t think they needed a rock band on their side. That wasn’t going to help their case at all. So we’ve been kind of silent partners in this. We knew there was going to be a time that was the right time to reawaken this case in people’s consciousness. The oral argument is September 30, but the state’s supreme court is looking at this case now,” Vedder said.

It was originally thought that Sirius Radio would simulcast the event, however it was later clarified that the rally would be broadcast at a later date, to be announced.  Updates to follow when we get them.

WM3 Justice Awareness Rock!

UPDATED: KARK-TV news bit featuring fabulous footage from the show, including snippets of Vedder, Depp, and more!

Thanks to Dennis from the Bugs Mailing List for this.

Video of “Society” from TwitVid posted by LuLu via user doompony at the Message Pit:

UPDATE:  Posted 32 pictures of the event in a Thick Pix gallery here.

Added 8-29-10: Amazing comprensive review of the subject and event from Politics Daily’s Suzi Parker can be found here; highlights below.

In press availability before Saturday’s show, Dixie Chick Maines said, “Three innocent people are losing years of their life on a wrongful conviction on a crime they didn’t commit. “It makes me scared. It could happen to any of us.”

Vedder and Depp have been ardent supporters for the West Memphis Three for years. On Saturday night, Depp read a passage from Echols’ journal before playing guitar with Vedder on several songs before the crowd of 2,500.

“Today the guards made me bleed again,” Depp read from the February 6, 2010 journal entry in his low, cool voice. “They chained my feet so tight I could barely move. I bleed through my socks …And this place is filthy. I can’t remember what it’s like to walk as a human being anymore.”

Pearl Jam frontman Vedder, who has met with Echols on death row was the lead performer for the evening and orchestrated many of the acoustic Americana songs and guest stars that also included Ben Harper, George Harrison’s son, Dhani, and Joseph Arthur in their new bandFistful of Mercy.

Maines and Vedder both have a history of being politically outspoken.

Maines stirred controversy in 2003 when she declared on a London stage on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq: “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”

Vedder has been a highly vocal proponent of the pro-choice movement since the 1990s. He told “The Guardian” in 2009, “People on death row, the treatment of animals, women’s right to choose. So much in America is based on religious fundamentalist Christianity. Grow up! This is the modern world!”

Vedder said Saturday that the same thing could have happened to him as a teenager as happened to Echols because of the clothes he wore and the music he liked.

“My life was different than most kids my age,” Vedder said to reporters before the show. “There may have been a strange bit of profiling [in this case.]“

VIDEO UPDATE: Amazing videos from our pal Albawild – close view, lovely quality. Enjoy!


Lovely video of Johnny Depp reading from Damien Echols journal:

Ed & Johnny Depp join Patti Smith on “Dancin’ Barefoot”

Finale: People Have The Power

Kathy Davis ( Twitter: @CrookedArm23 )
A Bay-Area based entrepreneur, co-editor Kathy conceives and writes her share of TFT’s articles and sections. She was co-editor/co-founder of one of the first Pearl Jam fanzines "Footsteps" (1992-1997). Kathy’s first Pearl Jam show was at the Bridge School Benefit on November 1, 1992.

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