Joe Uehlein is a solo artist, the leader of the roots-rock band the U-Liners, and a political activist. Through his 40 years of band experience, Uehlein has played with Grammy-winner Dave Alvin, Steve Earle, Tom Morello, Pete Seeger, Boots Riley, and Jill Sobule. We feel lucky that he’s been a fan and supporter of the Future of Music Coalition for years.
To kick of our Future of Music Coalition Summer of Love profile series, we sat down with Joe and asked him a few questions:
1. What’s your first music memory?
My dad playing and singing country music on the guitar. He also sang labor and political songs — he loved Joe Hill and Woody Guthrie. But then The Beatles, and the San Francisco sound of the late 60’s — that really moved me. In terms of activism, when Jimi Hendrix, commenting on the Vietnam War said, “when the power of love becomes stronger than the love of power, we will then have peace.” That made tremendous sense to me.
2. How did you first get involved with the Future of Music Coalition?
I met Jenny Toomey and we connected on art and activism. She had this idea to organize a “Tell Us the Truth” musical tour in 2003 — I loved the idea! She asked me to help raise money and connect organized labor to the tour. I agreed immediately! I think it was around that time that she asked me to join the advisory board of the Future of Music Coalition.
3. What’s do you think is one of the biggest issues facing musicians today?
Making money as an artist, as a musician, is an incredible challenge. I’m a 40+ year member of the American Federation of Musicians, but for a musician like me, playing local bars and clubs and organizing my own shows— well, the AFM is not yet set up to represent us. They do a great job for orchestral and symphonic musicians, and for those in the big-time with national recording contracts. And they have a great pension plan, but no health plan. I’m a big fan of AFM Local 1000 for musicians who are not earning all their money in one local area, or not in a symphony. But I don’t blame the union. I think we musicians need to learn how to stick together to advance our interests and help make the AFM all it can be. FMC has done a lot great work on our behalf when it comes to public policy, new directions in the industry, exploring options for benefits, and much more. And for that I’m grateful. Income streams are a challenge — many musicians are making more these days from t-shirt sales than CD sales. There’s something wrong with that picture, but we have to figure out a way to adjust to where society is going while at the same time learn how to help society appreciate music better, value music, and pay for music.
4. What would you tell FMC friends that haven’t donated to the Summer of Love campaign?
I would tell them that FMC is hands-down doing the best work to advance the interests of music, musicians, and other artistic creators, and that we should all open our wallets during this Summer of Love campaign and give as much as we can. The first Summer of Love back in the 60’s helped kick-start a musical revolution. We can do it again! Give to FMC.
5. What’s your favorite Summer album?
Right now, because of Woody Guthrie’s birthday being July 14 I’ve been listening to Billy Bragg and Wilco’s Mermaid Avenue recordings — all new Woody Guthrie songs, Woody lyrics, set to music by Billy Bragg and Wilco — great stuff!!
Joe has been generous enough to donate his proceeds from his Woody Guthrie tribute concert this Saturday (July 14) to our Summer of Love campaign. We’re thrilled because it’s already sold out! We couldn’t ask for a better birthday present – we love you, Joe!