EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Inauguration

January 16, 2009

People plan to party hearty for inauguration

All sorts of celebrations planned to say 'goodbye Bush' and 'hello Obama'

"End of an Era" at the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, N.H., will mark both the beginning of Barack Obama's presidency and the end of George Bush's.

Okoawo, a poetry slammer, and her band, Rock By Funk Tribe, will rhyme about Obama's hope.

Aleo, a U.S. Air Force airman, and his band Rockspring will commemorate Bush with "Brave One," a song about a soldier who left his family for war.

The party is just one on a laundry list of "goodbye Bush" and "hello Obama" events planned here and all over the country around the Jan. 20 swearing in of the new president.

This time around, people seem more eager than ever to revel in the inauguration, whether by hosting a private affair around the TiVo, throwing a public ball with a dress code, or sharpening up on presidential trivia at the library.

Despite Aleo's support for Bush, the "End of an Era" party actually was organized to celebrate his dismissal. The performance is a follow-up to a show last fall, when the three bands first played together at an Obama rally at Life Alive Cafe in Lowell.

"Mark is taking part in it because the band is taking part in it," said Rockspring lead guitarist/singer Chad Verbeck about his conservative bandmate.

"The 'End of an Era' means something different to him. He's excited about the show, and to celebrate Bush's presidency," he said.

Others in the area also are planning inauguration parties to honor the first Democratic leader in years, the possibility of change during a war and a recession, and of course, the first African-American president.

"I've never written about any other presidents or even politics really, but with Obama I would hear a press conference and get inspired to write," said Okoawo, who earned the 2008 National Performance Network Artist of Color Residency Award and composed a poem for Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

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