By J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Live Earth will be live in Washington after all.
Al Gore's global-warming concert series -- previously given the cold shoulder here -- has added a surprise satellite show at the National Museum of the American Indian this morning, just hours before the main U.S. event in New Jersey.
The Washington concert will feature a rare performance by country music power couple Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, along with remarks by the former vice president and 2000 Democratic presidential nominee.
Their appearances -- to be televised internationally, with the Capitol as the backdrop -- are high-wattage, last-minute additions to the museum's previously scheduled Live Earth spinoff, Mother Earth, a day-long program of performances and speeches by members of the Native American community.
The concert is free and will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the outdoor plaza of the museum, at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue SW.
Gore made the announcement yesterday on CBS's "Early Show." The Washington show is one of nine concerts being staged on seven continents to raise awareness and concern about global climate change. The worldwide event is modeled after Live 8, the 2005 concerts meant to bring attention to the issue of Third World debt.
By the time the Washington show kicks off, far bigger concerts will be underway in Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, London and Berlin. (For TV broadcast times, see Page C6; webcasts can be seen at http://liveearth.msn.com.)
Gore had originally hoped to stage the primary U.S. show in Washington, but finding a suitable venue proved difficult. The Mall was booked for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, as well as for a Christian festival called Together One Unity.
Even an attempted act of Congress proved futile. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) introduced a resolution in March authorizing use of the Capitol grounds for the concert, but the bipartisan effort ran into Republican roadblocks. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) objected when Reid tried to pass the measure by unanimous consent, and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, later vowed to block Live Earth from coming to the Capitol, telling the Hill newspaper that "there has never been a partisan political event at the Capitol, and this is a partisan political event."
Shortly thereafter, Gore and Live Earth Executive Producer Kevin Wall announced that they would go to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Scheduled performers there include the Police, Akon, Kelly Clarkson, the Dave Matthews Band, Alicia Keys, Keith Urban, Kanye West and Bon Jovi.
The other premier event is at London's Wembley Stadium, where Madonna, Genesis, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters and the Beastie Boys are among the headline acts. Johannesburg and Rio de Janeiro are the other concert sites. (A band of five British research scientists called Nunatak is playing to a captive audience of 17 people at the Rothera research station in Antarctica, but it won't be broadcast.) Gore plans to begin his day at the Washington event before heading to New Jersey. "There were some naysayers who tried to say, 'No, you cannot have a concert on the Mall,' " he said on CBS. "But the cavalry didn't ride to the rescue, the American Indians did."
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the scheduled appearance by Brooks, the country superstar who set album-sales and touring records in the 1990s before retiring from the music business in 2001.
Brooks rarely performs in public anymore, but he agreed to participate in Live Earth after he was personally invited by Gore. Don't expect a full-blown comeback concert, though: A Brooks representative says the singer will perform a single song with his wife, Yearwood -- the tolerance anthem "We Shall Be Free."
Blues Nation, a Native American blues band from Oklahoma, will also perform shortly after Gore's opening remarks. The group will return to close the festival after a full day of films, speakers and performances by the likes of South Dakota punk band the Reddmen, Albuquerque reggae band Native Roots, and the Breaking Wind, a funk-rock band from the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Canada.