The drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, wearing his signature backward baseball cap, experienced Capitol Hill as an advocate for music education this week.
"I felt like I was in school and maybe in like a courtroom or something," Chad Smith told Yeas & Nays of his trips to Capitol Hill. "But it seemed like a good energy. I thought it was going to be real serious. It was cool. You feel an excitement, a buzz. Everyone's very busy."
The first-time lobbyist admitted his suit and bright orange hat combination turned a few heads and got him recognized by "a couple" of people. Smith's hat was also spotted at Hotel Monaco on Tuesday night.
Smith joined former New York Yankees player and jazz guitarist Bernie Williams and singer Vanessa Carlton at an awards ceremony Wednesday for West Virginia Democratic Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin. The National Association of Music Merchants singled out West Virginia for policies committed to music education in schools.
Smith and Williams, scheduled to play one song with the Shepherdstown, W.Va., Middle School jazz band, stayed for three, good-naturedly taking directions from the band's leader, Chad Conant.
Carlton, who works with VH1's Save the Music Foundation, brought her mom and "first piano teacher," Heidi Carlton, with her. She hopped a train for the event because she wanted the kids to see a variety of successful musicians who also "connect to the world" through music. Carlton told Yeas & Nays she has yet to hit the Hill as an advocate but is up for it anytime.
Smith is lobbying on behalf of NAMM for Congress to reauthorize No Child Left Behind to include music and arts programming in the core curriculum. He tells lawmakers music classes were the thing that kept him coming back to school from fourth grade through high school.
"How cool that we live in a democracy where somebody like myself can go and talk to the people who have the power to change things," he said.