Kurt Vile has performed three songs for Team Joe Sings, the online series that features musicians showing their support for the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris Democratic ticket in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
In a clip recorded in his home studio and released Thursday night, the Philadelphia songwriter is assisted by his daughters, Delphine and Awilda.
Vile starts off with a solo version of “Bassackwards,” from his 2018 album Bottle It In, and then is joined on drums and back-up vocals by Delphine in an utterly adorable performance on a cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.”
Awilda then joins the Vile family band to take over lead vocal duties on Gillian Welch’s “Wayside / Back In,” from the Nashville songwriter’s Soul Journey album.
Before bringing his daughters on, Vile speaks out for Biden-Harris, who he says he supports for “so many reasons.” He lists his concern about climate change (“I want the planet to be safe for my children”), support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and says, “We need a president who respects women as equals.”
“This is not a normal thing that I do, exactly,” the singer-guitarist adds, while pointing out homemade campaign signs drawn by his daughters. “So it might not come off as so professional.”
In presidential election years, musicians frequently stump for candidates, most often in support of Democratic candidates. The 2004 Vote for Change concerts in support of John Kerry are a case in point, along with appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
During this primary season, Bernie Sanders dominated the pop endorsements competition, with the Strokes, Public Enemy, Brandi Carlile, and Jack White all opening for the Vermont senator at campaign rallies.
But in the general election season during the ongoing pandemic, pop acts have pivoted to virtual tactics.
Pearl Jam’s voter engagement initiative in Pennsylvania is pegged to a video stream of a 2016 concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. And the weekly Team Joe Sings series has featured Chloe x Halle, Kesha, Anthony Hamilton, Drive-By Truckers, Los Lobos, and Matt Berninger of the National.
The Biden video is Vile’s second significant surfacing from lockdown. Earlier this month, he released Speed, Sound, Lonely KV, a five-song EP that included a duet with the late John Prine — Vile’s songwriting hero — and a cover of Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness.”