Music for Marriage Equality benefit at Dakota Jazz Club, 9/25/12

Music for Marriage Equality benefit at Dakota Jazz Club, 9/25/12
Photo: Briana Bierschbach.

Music for Marriage Equality Benefit
With Jonatha Brooke, Chastity Brown, and Keri Noble
Dakota Jazz Club, Minneapolis
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One of the most memorable parts of Tuesday night's Music for Marriage Equality benefit concert wasn't even part of the set list. After the show ended, former Vikings' defensive tackle Esera Tuaolo took the stage of the Dakota Jazz Club and began talking about punter Chris Kluwe's open letter defending gay marriage.

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Chris Kluwe sticks up for gay marriage
The Dakota to host Music For Marriage Equality benefit

"When Chris wrote that letter, I read it and I cried," said Tuaolo. Likening the marriage amendment fight to the Civil Rights Movement, Tuaolo said he too had a dream when he publicly came out as gay in 2002, after retiring from football. "My dream was to have the support of my fellow athletes."

Then Tuaolo broke into a rendition of Etta James' "At Last" that caught everyone off guard -- especially the event's organizers.

All told, Tuesdays night's event brought in more than $21,800 to be used in the campaign against a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Minnesota, coming up on the ballot November 6. Given that recent polls are showing a virtual deadlock on the amendment, organizers and performers stressed the importance of audience members preaching the "Vote No" word to friends and family.

"This is one of those occasions where a negative is a positive," said Dakota owner Lowell Pickett. "And voting no is the most positive thing you can do."

Hosted by Cities '97's Brian Oake, the night began with a collaborative acoustic set between Jonatha Brooke, Chastity Brown, and Cities '97 co-host Keri Noble. About halfway through, a back-up band joined them on stage, and each of the three female performers played individual short sets.

The intimate show at the not-quite-full Dakota was full of candid -- and at times emotional -- moments.

"I've always loved and been kind of proud of how progressive it was here," said Brown, a Minneapolis transplant from Tennessee. "So when this marriage amendment came up, I was like, this is so fucking ridiculous. I didn't even want to participate in the discussion."

The concert climaxed with every musician coming back on stage -- along with a special appearance from Kluwe on the bass -- performing "There's More True Lovers Than One," a song off Brooke's new album of unfinished Woody Guthrie songs.

"Thank you everyone for coming out," said Kluwe. "Remember, this is for basic human rights and equality."

Watch the performance here:

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