It's a recipe that's been handed down for generations: Take a socially conscious musician, place him or her near a cornerstone political event, shake it up, and serve the message. So, will Mike Park who has dedicated himself to fighting racism, sexism and violence make some noise at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, which takes place just days after his show at the Black Sheep?
"Total coincidence that we are there at the same time," Park says. "I'm heading back to California the day after the Springs show."
Had this scenario unfolded four years ago, Park may have been Denver-bound. However, the birth of his daughter less than two years ago and the impending arrival of his second child have forced him to do something that managing Asian Man Records, performing with Skankin' Pickle, the Chinkees and the Bruce Lee Band, and organizing the nonprofit group Plea for Peace couldn't: cut back.
"Everything is different," Park says. "All priorities are now placed in perspective of family first. Music, charity work, et cetera it's all struggled due to lack of time."
The logistics have created a quandary for Park, who founded Asian Man 12 years ago in his dad's garage. The label has produced bands such as Alkaline Trio and Less Than Jake, but is also home to stalwarts including Kevin Seconds of 7 Seconds and Kepi Ghoulie of the Groovie Ghoulies. Recently, the label's name has become less of a nod to Park's Korean heritage and more a testament to Park's drive to create an American home for several Asian-based acts, including Japan's Ging Nang Boyz, Akiakane and Potshot.
"A lot of it has been from touring over in Japan and meeting these bands as the opening act," Park says. "What a great way to be able to do A&R."
Park also has used the label to release two solo albums: 2003's For the Love of Music and 2005's North Hangook Falling. His positive, anti-prejudicial acoustic songs read like mission statements for Plea for Peace, which promotes peace through music and plans to open a youth center in Northern California.
"I actually just faxed over my credit application for a place in Stockton, so hopefully the dream will become reality in the next week," Park says.
If the youth center does get the green light, it will prove a further test for Park. Already, he's pushed the release of his third album back to 2009 and has streamlined his touring.
"Take this trip to Colorado, for example," Park says. "I'll take Friday off from work, play Denver, then play Colorado Springs on Saturday and then back home on Sunday. Only one day missed from work. Pretty easy."
It's one way to make being torn between your loves sound simple. Though he won't be among the megaphoned masses in Denver, Park still has a stake in a presidential race that touches on racial divides he has worked his entire life to address.
"It seems ridiculous to have to put race into the equation," Park says. "Shouldn't it be about the merits of the candidates as people?"
I miss you, Lenny! My family and I thank you for all the special times…
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