The Righteous Kind lets freedom ring on Saturday

Members of The Righteous Kind, from left, Burrhus Bran, Tom Miller, Larry Thompson and Charles Martin with guest Rob McGregor, will perform "Let Freedom Ring" on Saturday at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza.

AMY MARTIN/Special to the Sun
Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 11:05 a.m.

In August, a group called the Psychedelic Relics closed their Woodstock show at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza with a song written way after the '69 fest but fitting nonetheless: "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," Nick Lowe's little ditty made famous by Elvis Costello.

On Saturday, another Gainesville band with an ear for retro-psychedelia, The Righteous Kind, will roll out an anthem of its own at the Bo Diddley Plaza - "Let Freedom Ring." And fittingly, they're doing it as the closing act at the 2009 Pride Fest, an event that Righteous Kind singer/songwriter Charles Martin describes as a fitting platform for the song and its ringing refrain, "Equality is the thing that will let that freedom ring."

Martin, a University of Florida professor known to music fans as the singer/guitarist of The Righteous Kind - and before that as "The Colonel" of the rockabilly band dblWIDE - has long taken audiences on gleeful explorations of music styles, both past and present.

But as a college professor who's mentored students from around the world, he has seen how many international students hungrily arrive, seeing America as "a beacon of hope."

"They come here because we offer them the opportunity to learn and the opportunity to pursue their dreams," Martin says. "That's the America I know. And I also know how much it means to these young men and women who come to pursue that dream."

He also has seen, however, such an image sometimes tarnished by decisions made on a government level, though such decisions "don't really reflect what is in the hearts and minds of Americans," he says. "In our hearts, we will always have that love of freedom, and the simple desire to see that others enjoy this precious human gift."

Thus comes the latest, and perhaps most pertinent, original song from The Righteous Kind, a song that will no doubt ring out loudly and proudly at Pride Fest with its message of strength through equality and diversity.

"I wrote 'Let Freedom Ring' for Americans, to remind us of our greatness, and of our diversity and our strength, and to remind us that our strength comes from our love of freedom and our tradition of equality for all people," Martin says.

As the last band scheduled to play Saturday (taking the stage about 6 p.m.), the members of The Righteous Kind also will have some help during their set, notably from Gainesville musician/songwriter Rob McGregor and other guests who will fill the stage for their final song ... yes, "Let Freedom Ring."

"I have invited a whole bunch of Gainesville musicians to join us onstage to perform this song," Martin says. "I want this performance to be a community celebration with everybody in the audience singing along too. We are really excited about it."

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