By Patrick Crowley
Enquirer staff writer
NEWPORT - A Bush-bashing political circus is coming to town.
Cincinnati progressive rock group Black & Tan Carpet Band is not the sort of musical act that typically plays Northern Kentucky political events.
But "The Imperial Circus," an Aug. 20 concert and rally set for Newport's Southgate House, is not your standard election-year gathering.
Sponsored by the Cincinnati-based group BandagainstBush, The Imperial Circus will bring together a collection of local bands, activists and artists to raise money for groups working to vote President Bush out of office.
"We are nonpartisan," said BandagainstBush founder Jim Sfarnas, a record producer who also heads a Cincinnati entertainment booking agency, David James Entertainment.
"We are frustrated with the policies of George W. Bush and him saying one thing and doing another," Sfarnas said.
"It just came to a head with how he basically invaded Iraq without considering anybody else, including other countries and his own people."
But this is Northern Kentucky, a politically conservative area where the president is immensely popular. Republicans and Bush supporters will have a hard time swallowing the group's assertions that it is nonpartisan and that Bush should be booted from office.
"This is Bush country," said lobbyist Marc Wilson of Florence, a frequent GOP political adviser. "I don't see this type of event, especially in Kentucky, being successful at all.
"I would think it would play well in San Francisco," Wilson said, "but not Kentucky."
Sfarnas disagrees. He is convinced the anti-Bush sentiment in the region is deeper than the GOP wants to admit.
"We're getting tons of calls about the event," he said. "People are absolutely interested in what we are trying to do."
BandagainstBush's main focus is to educate young people and get them interested in voting and participating in the political process. Voter registration cards will be available the night of the show.
To entice people to the event, a number of local bands have donated their time.
Scheduled acts include Black & Tan Carpet Band along with Moth, Jerry's Little Band, Acumen, Annette Shepherd, The Walker Project, Benj Clarke and others.
Speakers and presentations from politically active groups such as Democracy Now and the American Civil Liberties Union will also be featured. Money raised will go to those and other groups, Sfarnas said.
BandagainstBush doesn't hide its effort to defeat Bush.
On its Internet Web site the group said its top goal is the "removal of the Bush system of government."
But the organization also calls for an end to the two-party political system of Democrats and Republicans and says "more parties bring real voices to government."
And it has backed away from supporting MoveOn.org, the grass-roots organization that has run stinging campaign ads against President Bush. "They are too focused on the Democrats, and we truly are nonpartisan," Sfarnas said.
Organizers hope for a crowd of 200 to 300 at the Aug. 20 event.
"This is a way to get people involved who may not always follow politics, or who don't know how to get involved," Sfarnas said.
Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door. You must be 18 or older to attend.
For more information visit www.bandagainstbush.org or www.southgatehouse.com.
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