noon, May 28
For Whom the Wheel Squeaks
After taking a year off, the International Squeaky Wheel Tour is finally back on the road in a cross-country jaunt from Los Angeles to New York and back. A major component of the publicity arm of the GINA for Missing Persons FOUNDation (also known as 411 GINA,) the domestic leg of the tour kicked off October 17 at West LA Music. The acoustic road shows include performances by various singer/songwriters who have donated their time and energy including Darius Lux, the Conlons, Raevyn Justice, and a San Diego high schooler named James Morris.
“I’m playing all my own stuff, but at each stop I’ll be playing my song “Find You,” which I dedicated to the cause.”
Morris reminds that it’s not all about the music on this tour. He’s been put in charge of publicity and says the tour’s reason for being is to raise awareness of the hundreds of persons who go missing annually. How many missing person cases has the Squeaky Wheel Tour and 411 GINA helped close over the years? Morris defers to his mom for the answer. She can be heard saying the word “1100” in the background.
But no amount of publicity or manpower would ever lead to the discovery of the one person for whom the foundation was named: Regina Marie Bos, known simply as Gina. On October 17, 2000, the 40-year-old mother of three played a gig at Duggan’s Pub near her home in Lincoln, Nebraska. After, she walked off the stage and was never seen or heard from again. Finding Bos would become a life’s crusade for her sister, Jannel Rap, a singer/songwriter who now lives in Anaheim and who also performs as part of the Squeaky Wheel lineup.
When Lincoln police failed to turn up any clues and closed the case, Rap founded a nonprofit organization dedicated to publicizing the plight of the nation’s missing. She named it GINA for Missing Persons in honor of her sister and soon after launched the Squeaky Wheel tours. Over the years national acts such as Maroon 5, Little Feat, and Bif Naked have joined in. At each show, Morris says performers read the names of persons missing in that area and pass out flyers.
On October 22 the Squeaky Wheel Tour will land at Music Power in San Diego, a shop formerly known as Guitar Trader. “We chose music stores because they are intimate venues with guys who are willing to do this with us and who are willing to promote and be a part of it.” They don’t charge, Morris says, and they run the sound and lights, all important considerations for a sponsor-powered tour that asks no admission.
“These are free shows. Anyone can walk in and listen.” The point of the tour, Morris says, is to raise awareness, not money. “Everything is free, but donations are accepted to support the cause. 411GINA.org,” he says, “is where you can connect to all this.”