WASHINGTON, DC—President Clinton, under fire for numerous allegations of Whitewater wrongdoing and sexual misconduct, found himself the subject of further scrutiny Monday, when a group of D.C.-area musicians and scenesters took him to task for failure to support the local music scene.
"There are some really great rock 'n' roll bands here in the D.C. area that are making some really great music," said Nicole Schenck, 22, bassist for the band Boba Fetish. "And President Clinton, for all his talk about community activism and involvement, really isn't doing anything to support them, either by going to the shows or by using his position of power to help get the word out. It's incredibly disappointing."
Mark Rudder, drummer for Sock Puppet and owner of local indie label 50-Watt Records, agreed.
"Last Friday, there was a big 50-Watt showcase over at The Crowbar featuring us, Spacegoat, The Hal Lindens, and a whole bunch of other cool bands from the label. The club's just a few blocks from the White House, and the cover was just $4. We plastered flyers all over the kiosks up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, so there's no way the president couldn't have known about it," Rudder said. "There's no excuse for him not being at that show."
Rudder noted that Clinton's absence was particularly inexcusable in light of the fact that Spacegoat was showcasing material from its new four-song EP, Swirl.
Responding to the charges, Clinton claimed he was "at a summit" the night of the 50-Watt showcase.
"I very much would have liked to attend the concert, particularly considering how much it meant to the members of Spacegoat. Unfortunately, a pressing foreign crisis prevented me from doing so," Clinton said. "I have always been a strong supporter of the many fine musical artists in the Washington, DC, area and will continue to support them in the future." Clinton said he was pleased to hear that nearly 150 people were at the concert, one of the biggest turnouts for a show at The Crowbar this year. He also pledged to "try his best" to make it to the next 50-Watt showcase.
Clinton's commitment to the D.C. scene has been questioned by local scenesters since he first took office six years ago. He was roundly criticized for choosing Fleetwood Mac to play at his January 1993 Inaugural Ball, prompting cries of "corporate sell-out." In recent years, the cries have only grown louder, as the few concerts the president has attended have all featured big-name, major-label acts.
"President Clinton hasn't been to a show by a local band in years—if ever," said Claw Jockey bassist Sean Comello. "Last year, he only saw one show, and it was the Kennedy Center Honors, which featured Aretha Franklin, James Taylor, and The Mamas & The Papas. If that isn't corporate rock, what is?"
"I realize the president is a busy man," Comello continued, "but if he was only going to see one show last year, it clearly should have been The Enola Fags' farewell gig at Mick's."
Comello called upon President Clinton to make a true show of support for the local music scene by attending next Friday's Loose Booty show at The Grapevine. Loose Booty, a new eight-piece ska-funk collective featuring former members of D.C.-area bands Nickelbag and Skankin' Peter, is "supposed to be unbelievable live," Comello said.
Speaking on behalf of the president, White House press secretary Mike McCurry said Clinton would "do everything in his power to attend the show, or, at the very least, send Vice-President Gore."
McCurry also said the president has promised to post a flyer for the show in a "highly visible spot" in the White House.