(Originally published in the 4/19/16 edition)
In 1992, MTV initiated its Rock the Vote campaign to encourage its audience of twentysomethings to get out and vote. The maneuver worked, as youth voter turnout in that year's presidential election increased by 6 percent over the previous presidential election in 1988. In 2004, the message was “Vote or Die,” and perhaps feeling threatened by this campaign, the youth made sure to vote, yielding a 10 percent increase from the 2000 election.
However, with the lack of a youth-oriented voter campaign in 2012, the percentage of young voters that year was 41.2 percent, down 7 percent from 2008. As America experiences its most inescapable election in quite some time, this begs the question: is anyone “rocking the vote”?
Well, Gabe Griess, a Democratic candidate for California's 3rd State Senate District (which includes Benicia), certainly is. He is doing so with Polipalooza, a free political music festival at Vacaville's Buck Mansion aimed at encouraging the youth to get out the vote.
“The number one goal of this campaign has always been to inspire participation at all levels, but the group with the most room for growth is young people, who voted at 8 percent last election cycle,” Griess said in a statement. “So we are hopeful this will motivate people to register to vote and continue to be civically engaged. Your voice and your vote counts!”
Griess is a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and veteran pilot of the War in Afghanistan. He is also a board member of the Solano Community College Educational Foundation, Rebuilding Together Solano, Vacaville Rotary Club and a trustee with the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post.
The concert will feature six performers, three of whom come from Vacaville.
The first local star to perform will be Lyndsey Elm, a former contestant on NBC's “The Voice” who got to be on Gwen Stefani's team. After the show propelled her into becoming a hometown hero, Elm has since sung the national anthem at a Golden State Warriors game, performed at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's “Holidays in the Park” and recently released a new single “Nothin' On Me.” Her debut EP is slated to be released in the spring.
The Used Blues Band are an award-winning blues group who perform popular blues and jazz standards, renditions of classic top 40 hits and selections from the Great American Songbook as well as their originals. The group has performed all over the Bay Area.
Taryn Cross, a country singer who began performing at the age of 15 and is currently recording in Nashville, will also be playing. Cross has released two albums and had the opportunity to perform with country music superstars like Randy Travis and Eric Church.
Also performing at Polipalooza will be San Francisco-based folk singer Steve Meckfessel, San Francisco soul singer Nina Grae, Chicago-based singer Sue Schultz and slam poet Neelam Kumar.
Polipalooza will be held noon, Saturday April 23, at the historic Buck Mansion in Vacaville, located at 225 Buck Ave. The event is free for those who RSVP at VoteGabe.com/Polipalooza. Beer and wine will be served to those ages 21 and older, and food will be provided by chef Brian Wollin. Attendees must be registered to vote. For more information, visit VoteGabe.com/Polipalooza.