Lack of Trump won’t stop one ‘Nerd Prom’ party
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While some outlets are abandoning plans for their White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) dinner bashes, for at least one organizer, Washington’s annual “Nerd Prom” means it’s time to jam.

“We’re not going to cancel this thing. We’re going to go party and have a good time,” Chuck Leavell tells ITK of the White House Correspondents’ Jam. The longtime Rolling Stones keyboardist and founding member of Sea Level says the musical event, now in its fourth year, is “always a party.”


“That’s kind of the vibe of the whole thing,” adds Leavell, who hosts the shindig with his environmental news site, Mother Nature Network.

This year’s Jam, held on the eve of the April 28 correspondents’ dinner, features bands fronted by journalists, including NBC News’s Lester Holt and the Rough Cuts, along with CNBC’s Steve Liesman and the Mooncussers playing with “Shark Tank’s” Kevin O’Leary.

Actor Kevin Bacon and his brother, Michael Bacon, who together make up the Bacon Brothers Band, will headline the concert at the Hamilton Live in downtown D.C.

“We’ve wanted to do this for awhile with Chuck Leavell,” Bacon tells ITK. “I think we’re going to play kind of a fun, upbeat set. It seems like the whole weekend kind of has a party vibe.”

But, like last year, the vibe during correspondents’ weekend is different from previous administrations.

For the second year in a row, President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE will buck tradition and pass on attending the dinner, which raises money for journalism scholarships.

“He seems not to have much of a sense of humor. The presidents before, from either party, they showed a sense of humor,” says Leavell. “That’s what the dinner’s really all about — it’s self-deprecating. It’s taking a few shots here at others, and it’s fun, it’s humor. It’s meant to be that, and he seems to not want to engage in it.”

Leavell, an environmental activist and former Allman Brothers Band member, notes he has friends “on both sides of the aisle” and that he sang the national anthem at the signing of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act when George W. Bush was president. But he calls Trump “the strangest president this country has ever had.”

“It wasn’t my choice, but he’s the president. I think all of us kind of that voted the other way have that feeling of we’re just going to have to watch and hope.”

But, Leavell adds, “I have my concerns about the direction he’s taking us.”

Several media companies, including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and People magazine have nixed their annual correspondents’ parties for the second time this year. Other news outlets, including The Hill, have yet to announce the status of their correspondents’ events.

But Kevin Bacon says the Jam offers a chance for Washington journalists to “let their hair down a little bit.”

Asked if there’s any particular lawmaker or political VIP the pair would like to meet while in town, Michael Bacon replies, “I’d like to meet anybody.”