A few days after Donald Trump clinched the presidency, Chevy Chase concert organizer Doug Mangel was wide awake at 2 a.m. compiling a playlist of ‘60s protest songs.
The election results had left him feeling “sort of punched in the gut,” but he found comfort in listening to Bob Dylan and Woodie Guthrie.
“It felt cathartic putting it together,” Mangel said.
The early-morning experience got him thinking about using music to unite the community during a time of tumult. Now, Mangel is working to stage one of at least two local shows planned to calm frayed nerves in the hours before Trump’s inauguration in January.
“I think people are looking for something to forget about what might be happening the next day,” said Pete Marra, who is co-hosting one of the events with Mangel.
Mangel’s BlackBox Live concert series is partnering with Marra’s Tree House Concerts to put on the Peace, Love and Understanding Alt-Inaugural show at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 19, the day before Trump takes office.
The second event, dubbed the UnNaugural Concert, is slated for the big day itself on Jan. 20. But unlike the D.C. extravaganza, “no limousines, tuxedos, or fancy gowns are needed” at the UnNaugural Concert, its website states.
The concert, which state Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Rockville) is planning, will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring and will promote progressive issues such as gay rights and gun control.
"I tend to be a problem solver. So I came up with the idea of hosting a concert to raise money for progressive causes that are among those most threatened by the incoming administration," Kagan said.
Both events will feature musicians who have engaged in political or social activism.
The UnNaugural Concert will include performances by activist musicians such as Grammy-nominated vocalists Sweet Honey in the Rock and musical duo Emma’s Revolution. The event will support the American Civil Liberties Union, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, League of Conservation Voters, National LGBTQ Task Force and Planned Parenthood. Kagan said she'd like to let concert goers help decide how the event proceeds will be divided between the organizations. Tickets are available at unnaugural.org.
The Peace, Love and Understanding show at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club will present singer-songwriter Jill Sobule, “populist musician” Jonah Smith and cellist Ben Sollee, an environmental advocate who has opposed mountaintop removal in Appalachia, Mangel said. The show’s proceeds will go to the artists and to two local nonprofits, Ayuda, which serves low-income immigrants, and Washington Womenade, which helps the needy in the D.C. area.
“Both women’s rights and immigration will rise to the forefront over the next four years—and so we’d like to give to [these nonprofits] at this time,” said Marra of Takoma Park.
Mangel said the response to the planned show has been overwhelming. Since tickets went on sale over Thanksgiving, 375 of 500 seats have already been taken, he said. The $30 tickets are available at tree-houseconcerts.com.
In a largely Democratic county where 76 percent of voters chose Hillary Clinton for president, the Jan. 19 crowd probably won’t contain many Trump supporters. But the goal isn’t to rally against the Republican president-elect, Mangel said.
“We’re not doing it as a protest, in-your-face show,” he said. “I think that music is a very powerful thing. …I think it brings people together.”
Dan McHugh, vice president of Montgomery County Young Republicans, doesn’t remember past presidential inaugurations inspiring concerts like the planned events and said the response to Trump’s election has been unusually emotional.
“Clearly, the Democrats are not going to accept Donald Trump as president,” McHugh said.