Published on
by
The Muskegon Chronicle (Michigan)

Anti-War Song Gets The Fingers

by
Frederico Martinez

What would a national music festival be without a war protest song?

Enter State Radio with its wildly popular signature song "Camilo," which drew an outburst of cheers from the predominately draft-age audience.0706 02 1

The third day of ROTHBURY took on a more political tone as additional outspoken, socially-conscious artists like Michael Franti & Spearhead and Citizen Cope and The Black Keys performed.

State Radio's song is about Sgt. Camilo Mejia, who in 2003 spent six months in combat in Iraq, but then refused to return from a two-week furlough because he objected to a war that was "illegal" and "immoral."

Chad Stokes, lead guitarist and vocalist for State Radio, tried to explain the song's popularity during a pre-festival interview.

"It's just a human story," said Stokes. "It's about a human connection. It's symbolic, but it's still his individual story. I think that's why people connect to it."

That's not always the case when musicians express political views, admitted Stokes.

"In some cases when we talk against the war -- one time we got our tires slashed -- and some people give us the finger," said Stokes, whose band has been more enthusiastically received during their current tour with the Dave Matthews Band.

The ROTHBURY crowd showered Franti with fingers -- in the shape of peace signs. The well-known peace activist displayed his unique ability to package overtly political messages into a dancaeble blend of hip hop, rock, funk and reggae rhythms.

Franti wasted little time rousing the festival crowd at the main stage as he launched into anti-war protest anthems like, "Light Up Ya Lighter" and "Bomb The World," which he wrote in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

His 2006 recording "Yell Fire" was inspired by an earlier trip to Israel, Baghdad, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

State Radio's music also reflects the personal experiences and convictions of group frontman Stokes, who was influenced by such diverse sources as Bob Marley, Woody Guthrie and Rage Against The Machine. State Radio also includes Chuck Fay on bass and Mike Najarian on drums.

His world view was molded by spending six months in Zimbabwe.

"I was just done with high school and wanted to get away from Massachusetts," said Stokes. "I was just a kid with a guitar wandering around. There wasn't a program or anything.

"That was a pretty eye-opening experience for me."

 ©2008 mlive.com

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