He's a conductor, but don't look for a baton. Leading the chorus at a recent Solidarity Sing-Along, R. Chris Reeder kept time by stamping his foot on the floor of the Capitol. About 30 people formed a ring around the Rotunda and sang songs of protest and labor.
They sang "We Shall Not Be Moved" and "Union Maid." They sang "This Land Is Your Land," with new lyrics for the protests against Gov. Scott Walker's policies. "This house is your house, this house is my house/Scott Walker will never push us out."
The sing-alongs take place at noon every weekday, either in the Rotunda or outdoors on the State Street side of the Capitol. Reeder, 40, has been directing them almost since they began on March 15, when the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice's Steve Burns organized the first one. Says Reeder, "It's really important that the Capitol presence be maintained."
Reeder missed one sing-along a couple of weeks ago. "Other than that," he says, "I've been at all of the sing-alongs since the first full week." In addition to directing, he brings the songbooks and updates the Facebook page. Other regulars bring the signs and handle donations.
Reeder joined the protests on Feb. 15. He and his wife slept in the Capitol, and he maintained a blog and Flickr and YouTube pages about the events. After the largest protests died down, he says, "I kept trying to figure out a way that I could help out more with what was going on, and then the sing-alongs started up."
They are, he says, "a place to rejuvenate your spirit, to heal your soul, to come together, to connect to each other and, most importantly, to make your voice heard."