IMAGE: MIKE WILKES
"I'm not super political in my music," says Sleep, a.k.a. Chris Tafoya, a founding member of Northwest hip-hop collective Oldominion. "I'll never stand up there and preach at you. But when it's time for action, I act."
And he says that act became more work than he expected in the coast-to-coast tour to benefit the war-torn Darfur region of Africa. He ended up handling tour-stop details when the bookings began to fall apart.
"I kind of got behind the scenes more than I'd intended," Sleep said Monday, the day after the tour kicked off in Chicago to what he called a good turnout.
The whirlwind cross-country hip-hop tour featuring underground artists and low-priced shows hopes to raise at least $50,000 to send to Darfur, a region of Western Sudan in which about 400,000 people have died. The war has made about 2 million people into refugees.
Sleep says he could have become involved in any number of global causes, but feels Darfur is a particularly potent issue and one that is generally overlooked by the media.
So why a hip-hop tour?
"Music is a good way to get people gathered together," Sleep says, "[And] hip-hop is a good forum for speaking."
All money raised through the tour will go to direct relief for women and families in Darfur, through the aid organization MADRE. One project will be "giving women private bathrooms, so they aren't raped in refugee camps," Sleep says.
The Save Darfur Tour comes to Portland's Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th Ave., at 7 pm Sunday, Jan. 28.
Among the performers featured that night will be Visionaries, Grayskul, Sleep, Rocket One, Peg Leg and Alexipharmic. The ticket price is $8, and it is an all-ages show. For more info, go to savedarfurtour.com.