San Francisco–based musician Pete Kronowitt combines playful folk melodies with serious political messages in his new album, Do Something Now.
The music is inspired by the folk songs of the late ’60s and lyrically touches on timely topics, though Kronowitt doesn’t simply talk the talk; he takes action as the founder of Face the Music Collective, which mixes music and fundraising for progressive political candidates throughout the country.
Kronowitt—a longtime professional in the tech industry—originally pursued his music as a purely personal endeavor.
“I was just playing guitar and writing songs, I didn’t have a sense that I could sound like those folks on the radio,” he says.
When Kronowitt decided to record his first album some 25 years ago, he worked with producer John Alagia (Dave Matthews, John Mayer). That experience gave Kronowitt the confidence to do more with his music, and he produced several more albums in the years since.
“I continued to write and record while I was working in tech,” he says. “I interpret life through writing songs, whether it’s something eternal or something personal. I wasn’t writing for other people, I wasn’t writing to sell music.”
Kronowitt moved to San Francisco in 2012 and soon after, he left his job in tech to focus on songwriting, recording an album in Nashville and touring a bit. Then, Donald Trump got elected in 2016.
“I had been writing political songs because of the environment we were in,” Kronowitt says. “When Trump got elected, my wife and I decided we were going to dedicate more of our lives to grassroots activism.”
Earlier this year, Kronowitt formed Face The Music Collective to help foster civic engagement through music and art. Before the Covid-19 pandemic ended social gatherings, Kronowitt was taking Face The Music on the road and touring places including Virginia to fundraise for progressive political candidates.
“It was heartening and fun and all the things you would want in a music tour,” Kronowitt says. “We were playing for people who cared about the cause that we were dedicating ourselves toward, and we got new people to get engaged.”
When the pandemic hit, Kronowitt and Face The Music Collective began organizing and performing online shows for progressive candidates that still featured local guest performers and artists in those markets.
“In each of these shows, there is definitively hope,” Kronowitt says. “The enthusiasm to make a difference right now is visceral.”
For his own new record, Do Something Now, Kronowitt worked with engineer Spencer Hartling at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco and employed several of his closest musician friends—including bassist John David Coppola, drummer Darian Gray, guitarist Justin Kohlberg, steel-guitarist Tim Marcus and vocalist Veronica Maund—to fill out his studio band.
“I was really moved by the musicians who played on the album,” Kronowitt says. “It was a small group of people who were phenomenal, it was a joy to record the album.”
While Kronowitt is not planning any large album-release party, he and Face The Music Collective are staying busy on the performance front.
“We have maybe 10 more shows in the queue before the election,” Kronowitt says. “I wanted to encourage people at this moment. It’s the action that is meaningful.”