Big Splash, Big Women: Natalie Merchant, Sandra Steingraber, and Judy Hyman to perform in Anti-Fracking concert in Binghamton

Natalie Merchant is coming to Binghamton for an anti-Fracking concert. She is standing up in support of the anti-hydraulic fracturing movement in New York and she is not alone. Along with her comes one of Ithaca NY’s favorite musical talents The Horse Flies. The concert will also feature the author of Raising Elijah and speaker Sandra Steingraber, who is an outspoken opponent of hydrofracking.

Natalie Merchant’s music is haunting, magical, when you listen to her music you can travel to a different place, a different time. You cannot put a label on her style and genre! Natalie stated about her latest album Leave you sleep, “I have always loved many different styles of music but had barely scratched the surface of those genres on my own recordings. This time in the studio I really wanted to experiment so I called on some of the most accomplished musicians in Cajun, bluegrass, reggae, chamber, and early music, jazz, and R&B, as well as Balkan, Chinese, and Celtic folk”.

Natalie has deep roots in NY. She was born in 1963 in Jamestown, New York, where she spent her childhood. In 1981, while attending Jamestown Community College, she started singing for a band called Still Life, which would go on to become 10,000 Maniacs. Throughout her entire career, Merchant has also been dedicated to supporting a wide array of non-profit organizations lending both financial support and raising public awareness. Scenic Hudson, The Center for Constitutional Rights, Riverkeeper, Doctors without Borders, Greenpeace, and The Association to Benefit Children, and The Southern Center for Human Rights are among the groups to which she has been devoted. She was recently appointed by the governor of New York to serve a five-year term as a member of the New York State Council on the Arts. Merchant is donating her performance to help raise money for the anti-fracking effort.

The Horse Flies with members Judy Hyman, Richie Stearns, Jeff Claus, Taki Masuko, Rick Hansen, and Jay Olsa, will open the show with a guaranteed astounding performance. The Horse Flies have had a long run, since 1981, perfecting their magical, mysterious, haunting, powerful, beautiful, fold rooted rock sound. Hyman and Stearns toured with Natalie Merchant and performed on Merchant’s The House Carpenter’s Daughter and Leave Your Sleep albums. The House Carpenter’s Daughter features Claus’s song, “Sally Ann”.

Sandra Steingraber is an ecologist, author, and cancer survivor who recently won the Prestigious Heinz Award. Steingraber is donating her entire financial award to the fight against hydrofracking, including covering some of the costs of the concert. Steingraber has spoken at conferences on human health and the environment in the United States and Canada and has been invited to speak at lectures at Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia University, and the Woods Hole Research Center.

“Fracking is wrong. Fracking is unmitigatable. Sooner or later, steel and concrete disintegrates. Sooner or later, gas wells open portals of contamination between drinking water aquifers and the toxic materials held in the bedrock below. Doing fracking “right” simply means building time bombs with longer fuses. There are no places in New York and no children in New York that we are willing to sacrifice.” –Sandra Steingraber.

After taking over 20,000 public comments, New York environmental officials are getting ready for the final phase of work on their proposal to allow hydrofracking of natural gas in the state. Major environmental groups hired their own technical experts to review the states proposal. One large problem, they say, is the lack of a plan to dispose of the millions of gallons of wastewater that the drilling will produce. Also missing is an assessment of potential health risks from fracking operations, and of the effects on both humans, especially children, and the environment.

I recently sent an email to Judy Hyman asking her what you would like to say to the governor of NY. Here is her response.

“Mr. Cuomo …

I would like you to imagine the implications of having a high volume-horizontal-slick water-hydrofracturing gas pad 100 feet from your house (the setback indicated in the current version of the sGEIS). Your home. your family, your property, your lifetime of hard work. Please think about all the risks and implications. Is that really how you would want to live?

I don’t want to live that way either. But if you allow permitting to proceed, my home and my health will become vulnerable.

The process is not safe. There are accidents, spills, contaminations, both intentional and accidental, everywhere its happening.

The economic argument doesn’t work either. Industrializing my area will harm our existing, sustainable economy of education, wineries, organic farming, and tourism.

The patriotic argument has also been disproven as the industry is making plans to ship gas oversees and significant investment dollars in drilling are coming from outside the U.S.

I hope you’re listening to the people of New York. We’ve been working hard to reach you. The vast majority are opposed to this method of drilling. I’m pleased that New York State is still on moratorium. I hope New York will show the world a better way to grow our economy by investing in conservation and renewables. Please lead us in this direction.”

Chris Tate of the Finger Lakes Clean Water Initiative says, “Bringing together both Sandra Steingraber and Natalie Merchant, both very powerful, strong women, both mothers wanting to protect their children. And that’s really what this is all about. It’s protecting our clean water, we have a lot of clean water in New York State and we want to keep it that way.”

The event will take place at The Forum Theatre – 236 Washington Street, Binghamton on March 10th 2012. Showtime is 7 pm. Proceeds from this show will benefit the Finger Lakes Clean Waters Initiative! Tickets to the March 10th event can be purchased at the Forum Theater Box office or through Ticketmaster.

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