Jackson Browne, Indigo Girls among musicians banding together against Dakota Access Pipeline

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

President Barack Obama foreshadowed more complications for the Dakota Access Pipeline this week, as he told an interviewer that "right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline." With hundreds arrested in recent weeks at the Standoff at Standing Rock, North Dakota, the movement to halt construction of this 1,200-mile, $3.8-billion oil pipeline only builds. Musicians are increasingly joining the fray, striking an unexpected chord: pressuring oil billionaire Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, which owns the pipeline. Warren also owns a small music label and recording company, and is the founder and driving force behind the Cherokee Creek Music Festival in Texas. Many musicians, including folk/rock legend Jackson Browne, are banding together to confront Warren and help stop the pipeline.

In a statement published in September by Indian Country Today Media Network, Jackson Browne wrote:

"I met Kelcy Warren on one occasion, when I played at the Cherokee Creek Music Festival, held at his ranch. Later his company, Music Road Records, produced an album of my songs. Though I was honoured by the 'tribute' and think highly of the versions -- which were done by some of my favourite singers and songwriters, I had nothing to do with producing the recordings or deciding who would be on it."

Jackson continued: "I do not support the Dakota Access Pipeline. I will be donating all of the money I have received from this album to date, and any money received in the future, to the tribes who are opposing the pipeline." The album Browne referenced is titled, Looking Into You: A Tribute to Jackson Browne.

Emily Saliers and Amy Ray, better known as the folk duo the Indigo Girls, have been to the Standing Rock resistance camps, where thousands have been facing off against an increasingly violent, militarized police force that is facing down the Native American water protectors with attack dogs, armoured personnel carriers, pepper spray, concussion grenades and deafening acoustic cannons. In addition to raising awareness and funds for the land and water protectors at Standing Rock, the Indigo Girls are organizing musicians to challenge Kelcy Warren directly.

"Kelcy Warren also happens to be a passionate music lover and owns a festival, Cherokee Creek music festival," they wrote in a recent Facebook post. "Indigo Girls have played the festival and had a song on the [Jackson Browne] tribute record. When we participated in those events, we had no idea about Kelcy Warren's connection to Big Oil and its imminent threat to the Standing Rock Sioux. Now we know."

They wrote a letter to Warren, which was co-signed by Jackson Browne, Shawn Colvin, Joan Osborne, Keb' Mo' and others. It read, in part:

"We realize the bucolic setting of your festival and the image it projects is in direct conflict with the Dakota Access Pipeline ... this pipeline violates the Standing Rock Sioux Nations' treaty rights, endangers the vital Missouri River, and continues the trajectory of genocide against Native Peoples."

The letter concluded, "We will no longer play your festival or participate in Music Road Records recordings. We implore you to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline."

Kelcy Warren is a Texas oil billionaire several times over, and might not be easily deterred by a threatened boycott. In fact, when global oil prices began dropping, "Nobody was happier about the crash than Energy Transfer Chairman and CEO Kelcy Warren," Bloomberg Markets reported. All his competition, Warren gloated, "vaporized." He, like many analysts, anticipates that oil prices will rise, fracking in the Bakken shale region will boom again, and his Dakota Access Pipeline will be the only conduit to carry the crude oil to the Texas Gulf Coast for refining and export. "You must grow until you die," Warren told Bloomberg.

Jackson Browne also wrote in his statement:

"I intend to support public resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline as much as I can. To quote a song of mine:

'Which side?

" -- the corporations attacking the natural world, drilling and fracking, who do it with the backing of the craven and corrupt?

" -- Or the ones who fight for the earth with all their might, and in the name of all that's right,

"Confront and disrupt?'"

In the press release about the Jackson Browne tribute album from Music Road Records, Kelcy Warren wrote, "I don't know of anybody that admires Jackson more than me." As Browne and other musicians rally with the land and water protectors at Standing Rock, and as President Obama signals post-election action on the pipeline, it's time for Kelcy Warren to face the music.

Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,400 stations. She is the co-author, with Denis Moynihan and David Goodman, of the newly published New York Times bestseller Democracy Now!: 20 Years Covering the Movements Changing America. They are currently on a 100-city U.S. tour.

This column was first published on Democracy Now!

Photo: Louise Palanker/flickr

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism.

Related Items

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.