The election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States affected different people in different ways. The response of Queens rocker Roseann Fino was to come out swinging, as she used her platform to start “Not My President –A Monthly Show of Resistance.”
This Thursday, Fino and friends will play The Ditty in Astoria, with half of the door proceeds going to CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations). The gig follows last month’s debut “Not My President” show, which benefitted Planned Parenthood, and the project has been embraced by her fellow New Yorkers.
“I haven’t really had any negative response,” she said. “It’s mostly people saying, ‘I’m really into that.’ Our logo is a picture of Trump with X-ray glasses on, making a horrible face with a cat on his head. (Laughs) So I thought for sure we were gonna get some comments, but, so far, people have been on our side. Plus, we’re not pushing an agenda as much as saying, ‘I’m not gonna stand for this,’ and we’re also going to donate money to help people. We’re not doing it for the sake of being angry; we’re trying to use our anger in a positive way.”
It doesn’t hurt that such actions are encouraged and ongoing in the Big Apple since last November, when Trump upset Hilary Clinton and shook up more than the political establishment. With the new President at the helm, those who felt protected under the previous administration didn’t feel that way anymore. And it certainly didn’t sit right with Fino.
“I think with the Obama administration, as much as I was an activist and was protesting for specific things, socially I felt like he (Obama) was at least looking out for the people,” she said. “He was standing up for Black Lives Matter, he was a feminist, and he at least vocalized support. And now, with the Republicans having so much control right now, it’s not just Trump. And these organizations are fighting and they need a lot of money for legal battles and a lot of money to make sure they stay in business. So last month we donated to Planned Parenthood because God forbid they do get defunded, at least it’s a start to get them more and more donations to try to keep the doors open.”
In many ways, it’s a return to a time when music was more than entertainment. Artists sang about what mattered to them and their listeners, and education was a key part of the message. Fino is all aboard with that idea, and unconcerned that her bold stand could cost her record sales.
“The way the music business is, it’s not like anybody’s really buying that many records anymore anyway,” she laughs. “What is there to lose at this point? I might not get my $20 in iTunes sales, but that’s okay. Imagine if Patti Smith worried about not selling records when she wrote ‘People Have the Power’ or did her cover of ‘Gloria.’ If you worry about people not liking you because of your passion, then you probably didn’t want them anyway. If you don’t feel comfortable saying something or you feel like you don’t have enough information to say something, no one’s going to force you. But if you do believe in something, it’s part of your job as an artist to voice that and to stand up for who you think you should be standing up for. To me, great art makes you uncomfortable. It makes you want to be passionate, and I think that’s important.”
It is, and Fino won’t be stopping anytime soon. She’ll keep fighting and she’s not the only one. Don’t expect her to see this boost of post-election activism as a silver lining though.
“As a white, in the middle class, female, my life isn’t so much at stake right now,” she said. “So for me to say, ‘Hey, I’m glad that Trump got elected because now we’re going to work harder,’ it doesn’t feel fair because there are so many people whose lives are in danger with him as the President. So it’s hard to see any positives, but I do love that people are starting to become more informed and becoming active. If this was the push that we needed, that sucks, but I guess I’m glad that people are taking an interest.”
The next installment of Not My President –A Monthly Show of Resistance, takes place on Thursday, March 16 at The Ditty in Astoria. For more information, click here