Rocking the vote: US politicians and their musical side projects

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After it was revealed that Donald Trumps attorney Jay Sekulow plays in a rock band, we got thinking of some other politicos whove been known to jam out

Theres a long lineage of politicians with musical sensibilities, a tradition that reached its zenith (or nadir, depending how you look at it) when Bill Clinton so famously got out his sax in 1992 on The Arsenio Hall Show. There was no surprise, then, when Spin revealed that president Donald Trumps attorney Jay Sekulowis also in a band. With a Facebook following of over 100,000 people, and largely unremarkable covers of everything from the Beatles to the Doobie Brothers, the discovery of the Jay Sekulow Band prompted a deep dive into the history of politicos in bands.

John Kerry The Electras

Not to be confused with the Minnesotan garage band of the same name, John Kerrys the Electras were formed in 1960 at St Pauls school in Concord, New Hampshire. In 2004, their lone 1961 recording funded by Kerry and six high-school bandmates for $1,000 was rediscovered, fetching way more than that during bassist Kerrys presidential campaign. The record, which after a half-century was made available on iTunes under the name John Kerry and the Electras, includes covers of Summertime Blues and Three Blind Mice. The bands pianist, Jack Radcliffe, has said he and the former secretary of state were probably the best musicians in the band.

Rob Quist Mission Mountain Wood Band

Rob
Rob Quist campaigning in Montana. Photograph: William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images

Rob Quist, better known as the candidate for Montanas congressional seat who didnt assault a Guardian journalist, played guitar and banjo in the the Mission Mountain Wood Band, formed in Montana in 1971. Quist and M2WB, as they were called for short, found success after relocating to New York City in 1973, where they opened for Heart, the Allman Brothers Band and Bonnie Raitt. In 1987, well after Quist had departed the band, a plane crash killed all its members except Terry Robinson, but they reunited with new ones in 1992. Since then theyve released two albums and been the subject of a PBS documentary, Never Long Gone: the Mission Mountain Wood Band Story.

John Hall Orleans

The former representative for New Yorks 19th congressional district has undoubtedly had the most musical success of anyone on this list, having written Billboard-charting singles such as Dance With Me and Still the One with his band Orleans, formed in 1972 in Woodstock, New York. Hall, who left the group over creative differences in 1977, can be found all over YouTube channeling the contemporaneous soft-rock of Fleetwood Mac and Jackson Browne.

The Midnight Special.

Jon Huntsman Wizard

And now, our first GOP crooner: former Utah governor and US ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who dropped out of high school in the 70s after being recruited to join the band Wizard. Huntsman, who in his Salt Lake City youth played the keyboard and sported a mullet, performed REO Speedwagon and Led Zeppelin covers with the band, although, true to his Mormon roots, he refrained from doing any drugs with them. I never saw him inhale, said bass player Eric Malmquist.

Robert Byrd Mountain Fiddler

Since former US senator Robert Byrd founded a chapter of the KKK in West Virginia in the 1940s, Id prefer not to grant his musical output any credibility. But in the spirit of covering all our bases, Ill note that the former Senate majority whip released an album called Mountain Fiddler in 1978, replete with folksy numbers such as Rye Whiskey and Cripple Creek that reflect on his coal country upbringing.

John Ashcroft, Larry Craig, James Jeffords and Trent Lott the Singing Senators

The
The Singing Senators. Photograph: Ron Sachs/Rex/Shutterstock

This barbershop quartet of four Republican senators was formed in 1995 after they sang Happy Birthday to fellow senator Bob Smith. After Connie Mack was replaced by Larry Craig, the group performed for the first time in 1995 at the Young Political Leaders of America meeting. But they disbanded five years later their album Let Freedom Sing having been released in 1998 when Ashcroft lost his race for election and Jeffords change his party affiliation from Republican to independent.

Mike Huckabee Capitol Offense

During Mike Huckabees 2008 run for the presidency, he and his band, Capitol Offense (In the course of our playing, we offend just about everybody, the Huck once told the New York Times), made a habit out of covering the song More Than a Feeling by the band Boston that is, until Tom Scholz, the tracks original writer and a fervent Obama supporter, asked Huckabee to stop performing it. Though the group never officially disbanded, Scholzs rejection was ultimately a sort of death knell, as it seems Capitol Offense hasnt performed in a while. In any case, a tremendously uncomfortable video of them playing Mustang Sally can be found on YouTube.

Joe Scarborough Morning Joe Music

MSNBC host and politician Joe Scarborough has for years been playing sets at Upper West Side speakeasies, specifically Prohibition, the roaring 20s-themed bar where, alongside a nine-piece backing band, dubbed Scarborough. The former congressman began performing shortly after the September 11 attacks. In fact, he is releasing his first EP a collection of long-dormant bluegrass tracks called Mystified on 23 June. Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski and fiance has been spotted frequently at gigs, singing along to crowd-pleasing Scarborough covers of Prince and the Eagles.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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