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Karla Bonoff, Brewer & Shipley take us back to simpler times at Stargazers

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Stargazers will host shows by Grammy winner Karla Bonoff as well as Brewer & Shipley, whose “One Toke Over the Line” landed them on Nixon’s enemies list. - MARCEL SHAIN
  • Marcel Shain
  • Stargazers will host shows by Grammy winner Karla Bonoff as well as Brewer & Shipley, whose “One Toke Over the Line” landed them on Nixon’s enemies list.
One thing that’s been surprising about our political climate (because, you know, so much of it has been mundane) is that there hasn’t yet been a singular and iconic “culture war” battle between the Trump administration and a musician. You’d think, given the president’s active social media presence, that he would have engaged in a thrilling battle of wits with, say, 6ix9ine or Lil Pump by now. But as of yet, we haven’t seen anything as iconic as the Dixie Chicks versus George W. Bush or even Jello Biafra versus the PMRC.

You can cast your mind back to an ostensibly simpler time, then, on Saturday, Aug. 4, when folk duo Brewer & Shipley take the stage at Stargazers Theatre for a 50th anniversary show, with a new trio featuring Sean Anglum, Lewis Mock and Cindy Wheeler Greene doing opening honors.

While singer/songwriters Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley are certainly notable for their harmonies and elaborate guitar work — having been inducted into both the Kansas and Missouri music halls of fame, and having received Folk Alliance International’s 2014 “Spirit of Folk Music” award — it’s really impossible to talk about the duo without discussing their biggest hit, 1970’s “One Toke Over the Line.”

While it seems innocuous enough today, the tune — allegedly written somewhat as a joke — was enough to land the duo on Richard Nixon’s infamous political “enemies list,” with then-Vice President Spiro Agnew declaring the song “blatant drug culture propaganda” which “threatens to sap our national strength.”

A heavy accusation, indeed, but that’s not even the strangest permutation of the song’s legacy, as it was soon afterward featured on a 1971 episode of the Lawrence Welk Show, where Welk declared it “a modern spiritual” with typical guileless sincerity. In conclusion, America is a land of contrasts.



On Aug. 10, Stargazers will follow up the Brewer & Shipley performance with the return of another notable singer-songwriter, Karla Bonoff. Bonoff’s songs have been performed by the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Wynonna Judd, Lynn Anderson and Linda Ronstadt, who won a Grammy for her performance of Bonoff’s song “All My Life” in 1991. Bonoff has an equally accomplished reputation as a performer, boasting hits such as “Somebody’s Eyes” and “Personally.” Her latest album, Carry Me Home, is her first full LP in over a decade.

Send news, photos, and music to reverb@csindy.com.

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