The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


April 22, 2008

Obama ditty pumps crowd

LEWISBURG — Earl Pickens and the Band Named Thunder faced the largest crowd any of them had ever performed for when they did a rendition of their song “Obama Everywhere” to psych up the crowd before Barack Obama spoke Saturday in Lancaster.

Pickens said he was told the crowd was estimated at 7,000-10,000 people.

“It was different,” said Pickens from his Lewisburg home. “Every time we said Obama, the crowd went wild, waving their arms and Obama signs.”

Pickens and the band recorded the song, a takeoff on Johnny Cash’s hit song “I’ve Been Everywhere,” in Hufnagle Park two weeks ago and posted a video on YouTube. It has since garnered over 28,000 hits and was noticed last week by someone from the Obama organization.

“They called Friday and asked if we could be in Lancaster for the rally on Saturday,” he said.

Pickens rounded up his band and they headed for Lancaster. They were told by the Obama advance team to prepare a 20-minute set, but it could be cut to 10 minutes or might be extended to an hour.

“We really had to wing it,” he said.

When they arrived at the railroad station in Lancaster, where Obama was scheduled to speak during a whistle stop tour, Secret Service agents with metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs inspected them and their instruments, after which they were taken to a secure area to await the call.

“We weren’t actually on the stage with Obama,” Pickens said, “although we were about 20 yards away from him.”

The band played nine songs, Pickens said, and performed “Obama Everywhere” twice, delighting the crowd.

“They hustled us off the stage before he began speaking, and someone from the campaign stopped me for a short interview,” Pickens said. “They plan to use the song on their wrap-up video.”

Russell “Buzz” Meachum of Northumberland, bassist for the band, said, “It was amazing. It all happened so fast I’m still wondering if it was real.”

Pickens said if Obama wins the nomination, maybe he’ll write a national version of the song.

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