Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello appeared as his alter-ego, The Nightwatchman (which he describes as "the black Robin Hood of twenty-first-century music"), at the twenty-eighth International Brotherhood of Teamsters Convention in Las Vegas earlier this week. With just his trusty harmonica and acoustic guitar, the feedback maestro led union members in rousing renditions of, respectively, a union song, the uncensored version of Woody Guthrie's "alternative National Anthem," "This Land Is Your Land," and his own "World Wide Rebel Songs."
Despite being a multi-millionaire Harvard alum, Morello is no limousine liberal; he's a true-blue trade unionist, a member of the International Workers of the World who told the crowd that "the wheel of history is in our hands," and "it's up to us to turn the tide, not just to stop a few bad pieces of legislation." Evoking the spirit of '60s Dylan, Morello's tempered indignation struck the right note for the room of older-skewing union members. (The fiery squalls of vintage Rage would have been a bit much.)
Forget the less-than-golden pipes of The Nightwatchman; they're beside the point. It's all about Morello's passion and conviction. (Though it will be awesome to hear Zach de la Rocha amp up the pissed-off-ness when Rage plays the L.A. Rising festival on July 30.)