When we received word that some of our favorite out rockers, Antigone Rising, were taking their tour to Israel, we thought it would be really fun to have them do a little tour blog for us. I mean, how often do you get to experience a different country through a band’s eyes? Thankfully, bassist and resident Tweeter Kristen Henderson was psyched on the idea and jumped in head-first to bring us: Dispatches from Holy Tour 2012.
Kristen Henderson: It’s Sunday, Feb 19 at 4:15 p.m. I need a shower before I board a 10 hour flight to Israel. I just got my hair done yesterday and am concerned about the manic panic red highlights washing out, but these are rock n’ roll risks we take in the line of duty. The van will be here in 45 minutes to take me to the airport. I’m downloading travel guides to my iPad as I blog because, I’m not going to lie, I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. It’s my worst fear to be the ignorant ugly American when we touch down tomorrow evening in Tel Aviv.
So, quickly, I will share our story.
Back in May 2011, our former tour manager got an email from someone she graduated high school with. The email went something like this: “We would be interested in inviting Antigone Rising as guests of the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem to perform for Israeli and Palestinian audiences in the West Bank, Tel Aviv, Ramallah and Jerusalem.”
We are a band of extremes. We’re either playing 280 shows a year or on complete hiatus because we’re giving birth to babies. Sometimes we have a record deal, sometimes we don’t. We either get paid a lot of money to play shows, or we play them for free and don’t tell anyone we did that. You’ve either heard of us or you haven’t. Hopefully, you have. Heard of us, that is.
So, the one time we get an offer to play shows outside the United States, we’re invited to do so by the U.S. State Department, as Arts Envoys as part of a peace program in which we perform for both Palestinian and Israeli audiences in the Middle East. Extreme, right?
Aside from thinking, “Absolutely, yes, we will come to Israel singing songs of love and peace,” two other burning concerns rushed to mind upon learning of this rare and exciting opportunity. 1) Will we be safe? 2) Can I be gay there?
I mean, I’m going either way. I just want to know where I stand.
Fortunately, AfterEllen.com was able to lay my fear of being gay in Israel to rest via a cutting edge interview with Israeli, out loud and lovely to look at superstar Shorty.
The safety issue, however, is still a big question (in our minds) as we lift off the tarmac of JFK international Airport.
See, Anderson Cooper‘s nightly news program where pictures show smoke billowing over his shoulder while he speaks of horrible atrocities occurring throughout the entire Middle East could, technically, make some bands take pause. Especially all female bands. But not our all female band. No, indeed.
We don’t say no to gigs. Regardless of possible attacks or homophobic or sexist or anti-American disdain, or 10 hour flights where we all have middle seats. Give us a gig and we’ll take it.
All joking aside, we are thrilled and honored to have been asked by our government to represent the United States in Israel. We look forward to learning about new cultures, sharing new ideas with the people of Israel, and at least for a little while, creating an understanding that so long as we’re all singing the same song it doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, Palestinian, Israeli, or American.
So follow us on our journey, playing shows and hosting seminars for college students of both Israeli and Palestinian backgrounds. We’ll be holding drum workshops for the developmentally disabled, performing shows for the LGBT community in Tel Aviv, making radio and television appearances along the way, and hopefully winning over the hearts and minds of the people of Israel!