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Folkie Dement Refuses to Sing During War

March 23, 2003

MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Folk singer Iris DeMent stunned 600 people at Madison’s Barrymore Theater by taking to the stage and announcing she could not perform while war raged.

``It would be trivializing the fact that my tax dollars are causing great suffering and sending a message to the world that might is right,″ DeMent told the crowd Friday night.

DeMent said she had struggled over her decision for hours in her dressing room. Opening act Greg Trooper had already performed when she told the audience she could not sing.

Some audience members stood and applauded, but a few grumbled in the lobby afterward as they waited for refunds.

``I think it’s the most courageous thing. I don’t want my money back. Absolutely not,″ said Patty Allen, 51, who has seen DeMent at least three times in Madison and has traveled to New Orleans for a show.

``I think it’s kind of a cop-out, really,″ said George Robertson, 43, who drove 80 miles from Milwaukee to see DeMent. ``Her songs deal with a lot of personal things. If she can sing about all that stuff that has happened in her life, she can sing tonight.″

Promoter Tag Evers said he wished DeMent had made her decision a couple of days earlier.

``I’m not mad. I even clapped,″ he said. ``But I think she could have done more good by singing than not singing.″

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