Rock the Vote 

Former co-owner of Lucy's Record Shop ressurrects the spirit of her now defunct store/club to get out the word about voter registration

Former co-owner of Lucy's Record Shop ressurrects the spirit of her now defunct store/club to get out the word about voter registration

ACT NOW! reunion concert and voter registration drive

noon-midnight Sept. 18

Belcourt Theatre

For more information, visit

Lucy's Record Shop is something of an anomaly in the annals of the Nashville club scene. Located at 1707 Church St. from 1992 to 1998, it is one of very few venues in the history of Music City that can claim not only to have influenced musical tastes, but also to have shaped the lives and values of a significant, if smallish, segment of the local population.

For more than five years, Lucy's offered space for entertainment and self-expression to teenagers and twentysomethings seeking an alternative to just about everything mainstream Nashville had to offer. The shop's racks were stocked with fanzines, some created locally, as well as records typically not available anywhere else in Nashville. The club portion in the back also played host to numerous national touring acts, from Guided by Voices, Yo La Tengo and Unrest, to Versus, Vic Chesnutt and Lambchop, thus providing a foothold for independent culture in a town renowned as the "Country Music Capitol of World."

Just as importantly, Lucy's gave a forum to many local punk and garage bands, and given the way that agitprop politics are often wed to those scenes, the shop became a point of convergence for everything from riot grrl meetings to the local chapter of Bread Not Bombs. Now, more than five years after Lucy's closed—and in much the same spirit in which it operated—former co-owner Mary Mancini, disenchanted with the bad faith that pervades the current political climate, has organized a voter registration drive at the Belcourt Theatre this Saturday. The events have been designed especially with disaffected young voters in mind.

"I read some really appalling statistics about kids between the ages of 18 and 24," Mancini says. Indeed, 18- to 21-year-olds accounted for an average of just 3.21 percent of total voter turnout between 1972 and 1996, 21- to 24-year-olds an average of only 4.41 percent. "Something is taking up their time, and they're not engaged," she goes on. "We need to figure out a way to engage them, [because] politicians listen to two groups of people: people with money and people who vote."

Too often, young voters claim to know too little about candidates to make informed decisions. Yet now, with the proliferation of politically oriented Internet sites, breaking down a politician's platform is easy enough. Many, however, feel that the "information they do get is tainted rhetoric and propaganda," while others are disillusioned by their inability to find a politician whose stances agree completely with their own. "I've been voting a long time," Mancini counters, "and you're never going to find one [politician] you agree with 100 percent."

Saturday's ACT NOW! Reunion Concert and Voter Registration Drive will feature bands that used to play at Lucy's, as well as members of bands that did, some of whom are re-forming just for the event. There also will be booths set up by local and statewide activist groups, and each group will be given five to 10 minutes between sets to testify to the importance of voting. The Lucy's Record Shop Coalition Street Team will be registering voters throughout the day.

Mancini stresses that this is a nonpartisan event, even if most of the groups involved lean to the left end of the spectrum. "I invited a lot of other groups to do this, [to] get people talking about issues that matter. It's all about registering people to vote. That part of it is totally nonpartisan."

Events run all day long at the Belcourt. There will be early and late shows on the inside stage ($6 and $8, respectively), as well as free music on the outside stage, with a screening of the documentary Lucy Barks at 10 a.m. All shows are all-ages, and all proceeds (after production costs) will go to benefit Firebrand Community Center of Nashville. See the Music Listings on p. 42 for details.


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