by Sunny Clark
By now, most of us have seen the charmed moment when a little bird greeted Senator Bernie "Birdie" Sanders at the podium as he spoke to a packed house of thousands of enthusiastic supporters at Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. (If you missed it, the video is definitely worth a look.)
Former long-time senior political reporter for the Oregonian Jeff Mapes had reported that the Vermont Senator's 2015 appearance at Moda Center "has been attracting the biggest crowds of any of presidential candidates this year." [sic]
Huge crowds of humans, that is, plus, in 2016, one finch on an, apparently, big mission. The enthusiasm must be contagious, with Willamette Week already declaring Sanders as the
"Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders".
following the event, which was free to attend. Many of us at OMN would love to agree, but, alas, "Birdie", or "Birdman", as we've taken to calling the apparent Democratic front-runner, is still only a candidate for that nomination. Apparently, the avian population has NOT been granted voting rights (even in Portlandia, go figure), so this bird is also reminding you not to stop campaigning for that nod if you're a Birdie Booster.
Sanders matched the love of supporters when he took the stage, saying,
"Portland, you have done it better than anyone else!"
Now, that's a beautiful sound!
Long-time environmental activist, Brush Prairie songbird and The Dandy Warhols' keyboardist Zia McCabe had been selected to introduce the presidential hopeful to the capacity crowd. McCabe then reported to Oregon Music News that,
"Today was a lifetime high for sure!"
About meeting Senator Sanders, McCabe adds,
"It was just such an honor and it felt so right. Getting to hear him speak in the VIP [area] to just 20 of us was so very special. Just calm, no nonsense, logic."
Zia McCabe did Portland proud yesterday with her heartfelt introduction of Senator Bernie Sanders that not even a friendly finch could make us forget. During her brief speech, McCabe told a cheering crowd,
"I've never donated to a campaign before, and I've never voted in a primary before... I've donated to Bernie five times."
McCabe then urged supporters to register as Democrats before April 26, remarking that she recently discovered that she was registered as an Independent. Reminding the assembly to check their voting status, McCabe finished her introduction with the sincere declaration that,
"As a woman, a mother and a feminist, I support Bernie Sanders!"
Zia McCabe's dedicated activism was apparent in 2013, when interviewed, as follows (reprinted):
by Sunny Clark
Zia McCabe wasn't always a rock 'n' roll mama, as chronicled over a six-year period in Jackie Weissman's new documentary feature film by the same name, but grows continually, in leaps and bounds, stretching wide open into the role. With a deft hand in music, another in current events, and both feet firmly planted on ground; McCabe leads by example, just like a good mama does. Admirably dedicated to a roster of social work, and often heard rocking dance floors for even more charitable events than private parties as DJ Rescue, McCabe is never confined to acts of mere celebrity. When setting up housekeeping in 1999, for instance, she quickly improved the landscape of the neighborhood by enlisting Friends of Trees, and personally orchestrating a block-wide planting of new saplings, now notably flourishing so strong and green that one might never suspect a barren state ever existed, an apt reflection of their benefactor's own growth.
A creative risk-taker from the start, McCabe learned guitar in college, "For fun, so I could sing around a campfire." Soon after strumming her first, tentative chords, the fledgling musician became a page in the history of punk rock when, as a novice bass player, she joined The Dandy Warhols, while still in its incubation.
Soon, a microphone was proffered by founding band mate, the doubly-handled, triply-talented Courtney Taylor-Taylor, effectively ending McCabe's need to run over to his mic to say anything. And, I got to sing a little, too." Such feats as becoming a musician and rising to the occasion of performance virtually overnight are intrinsic to McCabe's nature, thriving on a combination of challenge, grit, and expression, all well-evidenced by the massive OnPoint Community Credit Union Celebrity Spelling Bee trophy now dominating her dining room, the crowning glory of having recently bested similarly congenial competitors, like Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, at the annual celebrity charity event.
The typically community-minded McCabe- and self-confessed "terrible speller" -hadn't wanted to refuse the invitation to help raise a quarter million dollars for Schoolhouse Supplies, so studied herself into becoming a worthy opponent, adroitly learning 1200 new words in time for the celebrity fundraiser. Perhaps her greater victory, though, was the almost maternal advice McCabe later imparted on Portland's mayor, whose policies, McCabe offers, she generally supports, but he's pro-fluoridation.
"I took the opportunity to point out that statistics for the whole State of Oregon, not just Portland, are being used to support pro-fluoride arguments for Portland's water supply, and entreated him to do his own research."
Without the usual trappings of punk rock princess, Zia McCabe has, apparently, chosen to use her powers for good, emerging a benevolent, lyrical queen of much more than this month's cause.
Rock N Roll Mamas is an intriguing new film by Jackie Weissman, following the lives of three musicians, in concert and in their personal parent 'hoods. Weissman's documentary debuted at this year's Portland Oregon Women's Film Festival, revealing the lives and loves of Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses and Zia McCabe of The Dandy Warhols.
Toward a decade of touring with The Dandy Warhols, McCabe recalls,
"I wanted to learn to sing, so I started going to live band karaoke. I did mostly country songs there. [Lead guitarist] Kirk Delong and I did a show at Rotture for a friend's event and it caught on from there. A couple of months in, we became Brush Prairie," touring down the west coast in 2010, and winding up at the Clean Air Clear Stars Fest."
The band now includes Herman Jolly (Sunset Valley), Nalin Silva (Revolver Studios) and another singer, Christa Buckland, who play "Walkin' After Midnight" together, as one the highlights of Rock N Roll Mamas.
Attentive to her instrument, McCabe relates that singing was challenging, and that she had,
"eventually gone to a vocal coach, then learned that polyps on both vocal chords were a huge issue... had surgery in 2013, tripling my range!"
Now, fans can expect a lot more singing from Zia McCabe. Brush Prairie evolved, recording their first EP, Carry Yourself Back To Me, with The Dandy Warhols' 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia engineer, Greg Williams.Recalls MCabe,
"The title is borrowed from a Bob Dylan lyric, and comes with a story all its own. A publicist for an Oregon author who wrote a book by that name called me up and asked me to write a song by that title, and to shoot a video, and record the song as a promotional tool for the book. I read the 300-page book, then wrote the song, and recorded the video within a month. The author came to the studio when we were recording. When she heard the song, she cried, which helped relieve the stress of this enormous effort just made. It was a lot all at once, but it was amazing. If you don't have those kind of deadlines, sometimes you never go anywhere. Challenge is good,"
McCabe declares, clearly ready and able to meet the next one.
"Brush Prairie now feels like I have a solid line-up," adds McCabe, "And can go forward with commitment. Our first show with this complete line-up in on May 19 at The Goodfoot for the final concert in a seven-concert series to benefit Spring For Clean Water!" Brush Prairie shares the bill with Ruby Feathers and Vulva Underground. The concert is intended to raise money and awareness on behalf of Clean Water Portland's efforts to keep fluoridation chemicals out of Portland's water supply. I think mass medication is unethical and there's less and less clean water on our planet. My access, my daughter's access, and the community's access to clean water is what it's all about."
A woman self-possessed and poised to fight the good fight, McCabe confides,
"I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing with my life. Not everyone feels like that. I wish everyone did. Years from now, I'll probably be doing much the same: have one important cause, some underdog I'm defending, and be playing charity events,"
...and still setting a standard for rock 'n' roll's offspring to follow, no doubt.
The Dandy Warhols kick off celebrating the 13th anniversary of 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia this May, treating fans to the full album in concert while touring the USA.