On Saturday I joined 5,000-odd other progressive rock fans at Yestival, an all-day celebration of progressive rock in general and the band Yes in particular. The five-member combo closed out the marathan event with full performances of Close to the Edge, Going for the One, and The Yes Album, in that order, and had I not been temporarily indisposed by a haze of marijuana smoke (middle-aged prog fans are bold in the face of concert security), I would have noticed a film crew recording the band. That was the first creative effort of Voices for Yes, a new multiplatform political campaign aimed at getting the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The new pressure group’s existence was reported first by Chuck Todd on Monday morning, but we have more details now. Its leaders are John Brabender, a veteran of Rick Santorum’s campaigns, and Tad Devine, a veteran of the Gore and Kerry campaigns—cable news fixtures both.
“Republicans and Democrats actually agree on something: that Yes is one of the most influential progressive rock bands ever,” said Brabender in the official announcement.
“We know a few consultants won’t be able to sway the Hall voters to induct Yes,” said Devine, “so we are embarking on a national campaign to move numbers to Yes’ favor.”
The campaign includes the documentary, the website, and a sort of national coming-out campaign of political prog fans. I sat next to MRC President Brent Bozell at one Greg Lake show, and Fox News’ Bill Sammon was spotted at Yes’ last D.C. show, but there’s much more than that. “Yes’ bass player is one of best of all time and was a huge influence on why I wanted to learn bass,” said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee through a spokesman.
The aforementioned bass player, Chris Squire, is one of the band members who’s tried to tamp down Hall of Fame talk. In an interview on this tour, he said—humbly enough—that the band wasn’t focused on it. Enter the consultants, who think they know plenty about elevating candidates and getting them to win closed-ballot elections.
“Yes’ve been nominated a few times and haven’t gotten in,” said Hogan Gidley, a spokesman for the Huckabee and Santorum presidential bids who’s now flacking for the far more important Yes campaign. “It’s almost like a presidential campaign, right? You try to win the nomination a few times, you figure out what it takes.”