Some Precincts Serve As Musical Venues On Election Day

Nov 7, 2016

Ethan Uslan at his home.
Credit WFAE/Sarah Delia

If you’re voting today, you may be surprised by what greets you at the polls. Musicians will perform at some precincts in Mecklenburg County. The goal is simple: to bring smiles to people’s faces as they wait in potentially long lines to do their civic duty.

One performer is ragtime pianist Ethan Uslan. WFAE’s Sarah Delia spoke to him as he prepared to play from a particularly unusual stage.

Musician Ethan Uslan knew he’s have a busy Tuesday this year, so he went ahead and voted early. Waiting was not a pleasant experience.

"The line was tense. I was looking at the ground I was afraid to make eye contact with people. It was kind of like a funeral," he said.

So what’s the one ingredient to liven up something like waiting to vote during a contentious election? If you ask Uslan, he’ll say music…with ragtime piano.

"It’s happy music, it’s dance music, it’s accessible music. And it’s part of our culture, it’s part of our heritage. It’s uniquely American and it belongs to all of us. And on a day like Election Day I think that’s nice," he said.

Uslan is one of many musicians playing at precincts today as part of an initiative from the Arts and Science Council. So if you’re voting between 11AM-2PM at Old Nations Ford Elementary School you’ll hear Uslan playing. His stage will be a flatbed truck. The only logical way to get a piano around. He'll also be dressed for the part.

"So I’ll wear my Seersucker suit with a 1920’s straw boater hat. I have an American flag bow tie. I think I’ll kind of look like the Music Man, I’m going for that vibe."

While Uslan doesn’t want to make America go back to the 1920’s again, he will look like a blast from the past. Which he hopes will add to the fun.

"I know it’s a tense time. A lot of people have what I call IVS “Irritable Voter Syndrome” and I want to distract them for a little bit and make the voting process a bit more pleasant especially if there’s a long line," he said. 

Along with some patriotic classics, there are a couple of campaign songs thrown into his playlist.

But don’t worry, Uslan’s not out to ruffle any feathers. One song that’s in his rotation is "I’m Just Wild About Harry," Harry Truman’s campaign song.

And if you’re more in of an FDR fan, Uslan plans to perform his campaign song as well.

The title of that song is “Happy Days Are Here Again” a sentiment we can all hope for as we head into Election Day and wait for the results.