In the political candidate's rock star sweepstakes, where one small benefit concert is worth a thousand mailings, Jerry Brown got Linda Ronstadt to sing for him, Jimmy Carter had Waylon Jennings at Constitution Hall in April, and now John Anderson has Herbie Mann. And Franken and Davis.
That's Franken and Davis (Al and Tom), the offbeat comedy team seen on "Saturday Night Live." Last night they were all performing live from the Bayou in Georgetown at $10 a ticket ($25 for "special patrons") for the first in an occasional series of John Anderson benefit concerts in different cities. Next week, it's James Taylor doing four one-night stands in four cities -- all for Anderson's presidential bid. After that, there will be more during the summer, then Madison Square Garden in October, then . . . who knows. The White House in November?
Bob Stein, who plans all these concerts as fast as he can for Anderson, would probably love to plan that one. But yesterday he just wanted to make sure the scheduled 8 and 11 shows at the Bayou came off. But, alas, the first show failed to sell out (300 people showed up at the club, which seats 500) and the second show ended up canceled.
Getting the performers for last night's benefit was relatively easy. Al Franken called up the Washington office himself, volunteering services. Herbie Mann got a mailing one day like any other citizen and sent in $250 before he offered his talents.
It was primarily a young, well-scrubbed looking crowd that showed up, many with red Anderson buttons on. Brown university sophomore Ed Cohen brought his mother, Nancy Cohen, and his friend Hadley Feldman, also a sophomore at Brown. They had worked all year for Anderson in New England, campaigning on weekends. "The discipline dean at Brown is Anderson's Rhode Island coordinator," said Cohen. "Everybody at Brown's for Anderson."
Several government employes were there including a table of four -- two who worked for Republicans and two who worked for conservative Democrats. Not unexpectedly, they didn't want to give their names. "And the guy at the next table works for Baker," said one. At the next table, Mark Lyons, 23, upon hearing that, dutifully raised his hand and nodded.
A young, blond press secretary said, "I work for a Republican member of Congress, who's a very heavy-duty Reagan supporter. But with anti-abortion and anti-ERA, I don't feel there will be any reason to vote Republican. This morning, when I read the Mary Crisp story, I thought, I'm ready to give to Anderson. Plus, I'm a jazz fan."
One the non-ideology side were a pair of government attorneys. "We're here for the music," said one. "To tell you the truth, the price and the place are not a bad deal."
Franklen and Davis came on first with an act that ranged from political to social to unseemly -- including one sketch about a hot-line for rapists, so they could call up and have someone to talk to -- which drew boos and hisses. That joke was part of a larger skit on feminist issues called "You've Come a Long Way, Buddy": "A show about men, for men . . . our researchers are men, even our cameramen are men. Our guest today is Craig, from the National Organization of Men."
The two introduced themselves with a disclaimer: "The views expressed here are the views only of Franken and Davis, and not the Anderson people."
Another spoof was based on Jonny Carson's Carnac character, but instead of Carnac, they used Khomeini as the mystic from the east. An example: The answer is "lefty." The question: "What do you call a first offender in Iran?"
Two days ago, Franken explained his reasons for doing the benefit: "We've dealt whith people in show business -- that's why we don't want Reagan.
"There's no money in this, and we want to use the publicity to our own end," said Franken, pausing to add, sober-faced, "That's kind of a joke. We also have a deal [with Anderson]. We get to perform at the White House for any head of state of our choosing, no matter how potentially embarrassing to our country."
Racking up "talent" -- with or without strings attached -- is an important source of funds for campaigns, says Stein, and that's especially true for Anderson, who doesn't get federal funding. Next week, four James Taylor concerts in New York, Connecticut, Boston and Maine could net the Anderson campaign $150,000, according to Stein.
Since February, 25-year old Stein has been working for Anderson ("He stood out for me by his oratorical excellence," said Stein) first as a volunteer and now as a paid staffer. He works out of his girlfriend's New York apartment, drafting her as his assistant. The object was to convince musicians and their managers and record companies that appearing in concert for John Anderson for free "was more important than a photo session in Munich." First he wrote letters to about 120 managers, which accomplished virtually nothing. Then he started calling managers on the phone. When he came close to making arrangements John Anderson himself was willing to get on the phone. "He's called about half a dozen," said Stein. Among those was the manager of the group Cheap Trick. Negotiations are continuing.
In fact, Anderson went out of his way to arrange a personal meeting with James Taylor -- in Boston. The independent political candidate and the reclusive rock star sat in a Boston hotel for a nice little chat of about an hour and a half, according to Stein. It was sometime in May, Stein remembers, right around the time of his Constitution II exam at Georgetown Law School, when he was still trying to study and work for Anderson (although not in that order.) Immediately thereafter -- which in the music world means one to two weeks -- there was a "firm offer" from Taylor to do benefit concerts.
Kate Taylor and Jonathan Edwards are other musical draftees. The rest Stein is secretive about. "We're talking to about a dozen of major 40 to 50 touring acts in America," he said. Billy Joel? "We're working on it," he says. Carly Simon? "No comment."
Once Stein has the people, then he has a to set the place. The Bayou, which is booked by Cellar Door Productions, was no broblem. "We have no political leanings at all," said Dave Williams, who runs Cellar Door Productions, was no problem. "We have no political leanings at all," said Dave Williams, who runs Cellar Door Productions with his Florida-based partner, Jack Boyle. "If Jimmy Carter on Ronald Reagan wanted a fund-raiser , I'd be happy to do that." Cellar Door gets none of the admission fee (but likewise does not pay the talent). "I have a bar," said Williams.