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November 24, 2004

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The Locust

What do bands like the Locust, Strike Anywhere, the Blood Brothers, Liars, and Daughters have in common? If you answered that they all belong to subgenres of punk rock, you'd be only partially correct.

These bands are also Planned Parenthood supporters and have invited Planned Parenthood to table outside their concerts. These rockers who tour nationally also will announce to their 1,000-plus audiences that Planned Parenthood is on hand with, among other things, free condoms. Punk rock music tours plus Planned Parenthood? This could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

It all started with music lover Katie Knoll, former administrative program associate for Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU). Among her musical friends is Justin Pearson, the bassist for the Locust, who encouraged her to invite Planned Parenthood to one of its concerts. PPAU distributed health information and gave concert goers voter registration information. A large percentage of the audience is composed of young men. "It's great to reach this audience," says Knoll, "because they don't usually go to health fairs and they now know that their favorite bands are pro-choice."

After the first successful event, Knoll coordinated with other Planned Parenthood affiliates, such as Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside Counties, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, and Planned Parenthood of New York City. Knoll helped the affiliates get the OK from the concert promoters, the band managers, and the headlining bands to table outside their concerts. So far, Knoll has helped bring Planned Parenthood to seven concerts, with headlining bands such as Andrew W.K. and Dillinger Escape Plan. Some bands invite Planned Parenthood for their entire tour.

Now, Knoll says, the bands are coming to her instead of the other way around. She has moved back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she continues to hook up local Planned Parenthood affiliates with touring bands. She herself may hook up as a staffer or a volunteer with Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region. Along with friends she will also be running the independent label, Collective Records. In the works is a benefit CD collection of all the bands that support Planned Parenthood, along with information about the groups and their histories.

Planned Parenthood

Heather Merriam