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Amnesty International's biannual music fest champions change

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The 2008 presidential election is just around the corner and politics are saturating the culture, so it would stand to reason that musicians performing at Sunday's Groovefest might be tempted to use stage time to voice their personal political grievances.

Tulsa funk/rock/rap fusion band HipHopotamus and Norman's indie-pop crooner and part-time Starlight Mint Ryan Lindsey are both planning to steer away from politics in favor of entertaining the crowd.

"You just never know who your audience is," Lindsey said. "Not that I'm worried about people not listening to my music because of my views, but when I go to a show, I want to see a show. If I wanted to hear a speech, I'd turn on the news."

Lindsey recently began incorporating a full band into his sets, moving away from his one-man-band fortress of pedals, keyboards and samplers. His buoyant party track, "Let's Go Out," bounces like stripped-down Brian Wilson and was written specifically for the "American Teen" soundtrack. He is prepping his sophomore album, which is due this winter.

SILKY, SMOOTH RHYMES
HipHopotamus might be more apt to deliver some messages amidst its distinctive Seventies funk grooves, a sound that's often part Sly and the Family Stone, but are also are wary of preaching to Sunday's audience. The band's emcee, Raymond Conde, infuses silky smooth rhymes with plenty of social commentary, but drummer Kevin Lantz said the lyricist is more interested in pleasing the ears than jumping headlong into the political fray.

"Sometimes things can be heavy-handed, so you have to be careful," Lantz said. "There is only so much a crowd can take before they just want to listen to music and have fun."

Groovefest remains a platform for worthy causes, as it has been since its inception in 1986. Organizers of the biannual event, The University of Oklahoma student chapter of Amnesty International, will be focusing on nonpartisan charities such as the Oklahoma Food Cooperative.

 "The goal of Groovefest is to promote awareness and to educate the community about human rights and be a celebration," said Sarah Warmker, one of the festival organizers. "We're trying to show people how they can make an impact, not just by voting, but also by doing other things in the community."

The festival's theme, "See the Cycle, Be the Cycle: Vote with Your Dollar," implores local change through scores of education and information booths set up in the park on Sunday.

Warmker insists the event isn't meant to lean a specific political direction and said the festival performers weren't selected based on causes championed on stage.

"We try to always rotate the different kinds of talent and look for diverse lineups," she said. "We want to keep it changing." "Charles Martin

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