Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Modern Day Woody Guthrie

Kelly Thomas Memorial Concert 
And Food and Clothing Drive 
Adolescents, AleVela, Julian Porte, 
No Vanquished, 80 Proof and more 
Fullerton Downtown Plaza. 
Today Sat. 7.7.12 2-8 PM

By Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

Every generation's protest movement has it's anthem...the backdrop is which the whole movement is forever immortalized in song or a galvanizing force during the actual protests. Think about it.

There was all the great Civil Rights and Vietnam Protest music from Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter Paul and Mary and others in the 50's and 60's. Who could forget the Kent State Song in the 1970's from CSN&Y with the phrase "Ten Soldiers and Nixon's Coming" or Bob Dylan's ballad about Hurricane Ruben Carter?

In 2011 during the Kelly Thomas Beating Death Protests in my hometown of Fullerton, we had our own voice. It was supplied by a kid from Santa Fe Springs with a guitar and a harmonica on a rack and in a scene reminiscent of Folk's Salad Days of the 1950's when guys like Woody Guthrie would lead a group with music, Julian Porte, a street performer, started singing a song...his version of a protest sign.

His song, "The Ballad of Kelly Thomas" was heard by a larger audience as somebody, ironically, put police bullhorns in front of him so everybody could hear. Porte then opened up his backpack and handed out free CD's of the song to everyone that wanted one. The scene was immortalized on video tape and a short documentary went viral on the internet and the rest, as they say, is history.

A lot of people say that "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People was last year's summer song. In Fullerton, our Summer Song was "The Ballad of Kelly Thomas"

Porte first learned about the Thomas tragedy from a friend's posting on Facebook. “Later that day, I was at another friend’s studio,” Porte says. “We were sitting around, talking about it, how messed up it was and the injustice of it all. I started messing around with some chords and a harmonica riff.”

Porte, is much more than a one hit wonder though. He has a great strong full-bodied voice and plays the guitar and plays the harmonica with a vengeance. His work is dotted all over the internet. I expect great things for the young man. Plus he just looks like a 60's protest folk singer.

Currently Porte is in his East LA Studio busy working on solo recordings and an album with his side band The Levitation Room.

Porte returns to Fullerton today, a few blocks away from the Fullerton Police Station where he first unveiled his song. And a few blocks away where Kelly Thomas was beaten to death by the Fullerton Police Department. He will be on the same stage with his childhood idols, The Adolescents, the Fullerton Punk band who also knows a thing or two about protest music.

The show is the Second Annual Kelly Thomas Memorial Concert and Food and Clothing Drive. The show starts at 2 PM PDT on the Fullerton Museum Downtown Plaza stage and is expected to run until 8 PM.

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