As the nominees for president in both parties turn their attentions to the Sunshine State, supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in South Florida have spent the past several weeks using music to help raise awareness of the candidate.
Ahead of Florida’s presidential primary vote on March 15, Fort Lauderdale’s art-and-music outpost Jump the Shark will host Bands for Bernie this Saturday night, featuring Wandering Krill, In Oculus, Unity Rise, Milk Spot, Rugod, Pocket of Lollipops, Gio’s Dirty Harry, and Hunter’s Cornflower Drag, as well as Tim Canova, who is running a primary campaign against Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The event comes three weeks after one held in Lake Worth on February 28, which got a big crowd and enlightened a lot of minds, according to organizers. The Sanders campaign opened its Miami office last week and has increased phone-bank efforts in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties in advance of the primary here.
Although the Fort Lauderdale Bands for Bernie is not connected to the campaign, it is one of many that Sanders supporters have organized in the past several weeks, according to Erika Grohoski, a campaign volunteer working in Miami.
Grohoski says the response for almost anything with the campaign has been good, including the series of rallies held in the past week and the campaign office opening itself.
“We’ve had pretty great interest,” Grohoski says. “Even for the smallest thing, people always show up.”
This Saturday’s event at Jump the Shark is the brainchild of Hunter Alberkerki, who had the idea after the Lake Worth event was announced. He reached out to the venue about the idea, finding that it was down and that the number of interested bands was in no short supply.
“Everyone’s got their own politics,” Alberkerki says. “Some people are extremely enthusiastic. Some people I mentioned the idea and they immediately asked to be involved. There are also some bands that haven’t played a political show before, so they don’t know what to expect.”
Canova, who has endorsed Sanders and is campaigning for him, says the event was different from other political events he’s been to in some ways, but overall it was about people learning about the candidate and the election.
“You gotta go out and meet people where they are,” Canova says. “Here was a collection of people — they love music. We had booths all over the place, some politics, and some art. I think it was combining people’s passions.”
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Alberkerki says the primary goal of Saturday night, aside from bringing people out to see some good bands at one of the city’s most welcoming venues, is to help push the Sanders campaign’s get-out-the-vote efforts and turn a few opinions toward voting for the senator as he works to catch up to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s delegate count in the primary.
Polls show Clinton with a sizable lead on Sanders in Florida, though Alberkerki hopes to help change that as Sanders crisscrosses the state for rallies and to meet voters.
“This is a very crucial time in the primary, because we’re having a lot of states vote that are very pro-Hillary,” Alberkerki says. “This is a good way to have bands come together for a good cause. It’s also a good way to show people not to lose hope — we’ve still got this. And of course, it’s a way to raise funds for the campaign.”
Fort Lauderdale Bands for Bernie
6 p.m. Saturday, March 12, at Jump the Shark, 810 NE Fourth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $5 at the door (and an additional $5 suggested donation); all ages.