Musicians Staging Benefit Concerts for Obama

By Michael O'Connell October 7, 2008, 9:00 AM EDT

Willing to lend their names and talents not just to the official campaigns, but to grassroots events and concerts, musicians have helped the presidential candidates to draw in plenty of money and maybe even a few voters this election year. The latest event is tonight’s “Barack Rock” at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

With musical performances from Andrew Bird, the Fiery Furnaces, and Guster, as well as comedic sets by Eugene Mirman and John Roberts, the fund-raiser is charging $40 ticket. Similar initiatives are popping up across the country; “Change Rocks” in Chicago and the “Barack Obama-rama” in Los Angeles have also seen indie rock acts joining forces for the Democratic candidate.

Bigger acts tend to draw a bit more money. Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen recently announced that they'll play an October 16 benefit at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom, with tickets selling for as high as $10,000 each. An Obama publicist confirmed the show will include an appearance by the candidate himself. 

The McCain campaign has yet to see this kind of grassroots organization incorporating mainstream musicians. The Hispanic Leadership Fund hosted a benefit during the Republican National Convention in Minnesota that featured reggaeton performer Daddy Yankee, but McCain has largely distanced himself from events with a celebrity presence. He hasn't been silent about that fact either. The Republican nominee most recently mocked his opponent for hosting a September 16 fund-raiser that culminated in a small set by Barbara Streisand—a party which brought in an estimated $9 million for Obama.

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