At first, Tag Evers kept his distance from the Capitol protests. He was as busy as ever with his concert-promotion company, True Endeavors - the kind of business where missing a phone call or an email can mean losing out on a booking.
But given his longtime attraction to good causes - True Endeavors frequently raises money for community organizations - Evers couldn't stay away for long. And he was deeply affected by what he saw during the first week of protests in February.
"I was impressed by what I saw as this spirit of participation across the board, from many people who had never participated in anything like this before," says Evers, 54. "Schoolteachers, students, cops, nurses, private-sector unionists and, most compellingly, the firefighters when they marched in with their bagpipes. Those were moving moments in that first week, and it brought me to tears."
Evers offered to help out by doing what he does best: dealing with musicians and organizing large events. For a March 5 rally at the Capitol, for example, he worked miracles by lining up major acts with less than two days' notice. Michelle Shocked, Ryan Bingham, Jon Langford and others performed for tens of thousands of people in what had to be one of the most passionate ad hoc events ever staged in Madison.
Evers has continued to work with Wisconsin Wave, the We Are Wisconsin coalition and other groups, ensuring that rallies run smoothly. And he has, indeed, lost out on bookings for True Endeavors due to his volunteer activities, not to mention his direct participation in the protests. He spent two nights sleeping at the Capitol during the occupation, going through nonviolence training in case of arrest.
Despite feeling exhausted and, occasionally, frustrated by events of the past three months, Evers is sustained by the commitment of his fellow Wisconsinites.
"I've been humbled by the courage and example of many who have stepped up and given of themselves to this cause," he says. "These are people who care deeply about the future of this state. What started out as a pocketbook issue for many people because they were public-sector employees has become a matter of the heart and a matter of the soul."