Mario Girard wanted to do more. He wanted to publicize Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s message of change. So last spring, while volunteering for Obama’s campaign, Girard started brainstorming ways to make it happen. Sure, he worked the phones, but what else could he do? One thing on his mind was how to encourage the youth of Santa Fe to vote.
Girard struck upon the idea of a concert. “It’s a great way to connect with the youth,” he tells SFR.
Over the summer, Girard put out feelers and rallied like-minded people and, this Saturday, thanks to the efforts of event co-organizers Isaiah Rodriguez and Lynne Canning, Rock for Barack descends upon the Santa Fe Brewing Pub & Grill with a full day of bands, speeches and civic-minded fun. In addition to live music on two stages, there are opportunities to sign up as Obama campaign volunteers.
“During the primary, the percentage of people in the 18-30 age range who turned out to vote was low—only 8 percent,” Canning says. “Yet during the primaries, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, people in this age-range favored Obama over McCain by 18 percent. Targeting the 18-30 vote is absolutely critical to the election.”
Looking at the statistics, Rodriguez adds, “This election relies on the youth. And nothing speaks better to the young people than music.”
It’s no coincidence that the organizers decided to hold the event with plenty of time left for early voting. They want people to have a good time, listen to great music and fulfill their civic duty, which is why throughout the day shuttles will run between the Pub & Grill and the Santa Fe Fairgrounds, an early voting location. Early voting in New Mexico ends Nov. 1.
“Believe me, this year, I’m voting,” Christopher “Citrus” Sauthoff, of the participating band US Pipe, says. [Disclosure: Christopher is the brother of SFR Arts and Culture Editor Patricia Sauthoff]. US Pipe, which plays danceable party music, is from Denver and features former members of George Clinton and P-Funk. “I missed the [era of the] Kennedys,” Sauthoff says. “But for the first time since then, it seems like change is happening. We want people to have a good time. We want people to get motivated.”
If motivation is the goal, then there are 22 musical artists to help engineer that very outcome. Brian Hardgroove of Public Enemy is on hand as the Master of Ceremonies. Other participating bands include local favorites The Apple Miner Colony, Savor and Sol Fire. Headlining Saturday’s show is Hani Naser along with DJ Hurricane, who has worked with the Beastie Boys. To kick off the festival is a “Dance 2 Victory” pre-party on Friday night with DJ Nu-Mark of Jurassic 5.
“This election is the most important election of my lifetime,” DJ Nu-Mark says of his involvement. “It’s so important to bring a new vision to US politics. I have to do whatever it takes to help Barack’s campaign.”
Canning agrees. “We’ve seen what’s happened with the Iraq War, the economy, what’s happening with the environment,” he says. “There are so many things to convince me of the Republican Party’s lack of stewardship. I think we really have a chance here to make a shift. Doing this [event] can make a difference, knowing that people my daughter’s age really can elect the next president of the United States.”
Rock for Barack is a celebration of music meant to connect Obama’s message with the younger vote, but the organizers point out that everyone is welcome. Just be sure to bring along that voter-registration card.
ROCK FOR BARACK
Dance 2 Victory:
7 pm-1 am , Friday, Oct. 17
18 and Over: $10
1600 St. Michael’s Drive
11 am-10 pm, Saturday, Oct. 18,
Under 17: $5
18-30-year-old voters: $10
General Voter Rate: $15
“Barack Star Treatment:” $100
Kids 12 and under free
Santa Fe Brewing Pub & Grill
27 Fire Place