Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers Jam For Obama At Penn State Concert

This story was written by Mandy Hofmockel and Danielle Vickery, Daily Collegian


The "Change Rocks" concert at the Bryce Jordan Center, which drew 15,000 attendees, including one costumed as a green Jerry Garcia bear and another sporting a cape with a blue and red donkey, let loose Monday night.

Members of the Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead joined Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign to encourage people to volunteer and vote.

At the concert many people rose and swayed, dancing in their seats and some twirled about on the floor. There was a smattering of tie-dyed T-shirts and glow sticks at the venue.

Balloons that read "stoned again" with a marijuana leaf drifted to the floor and so did a few people who climbed from their seats above. The people were promptly escorted away.

Between performances, the campaign took the opportunity to inform those present about Obama and the importance of civic engagement.

Nittany Lion cornerback Lydell Sargeant and other Penn State football players joined quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno on stage to address the crowd.

Sargeant, who said he plays the drums and that Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart is an inspiration, encouraged people to get involved and to vote. He also asked people to bring the same pride they have for the now No. 3 college football team to volunteer to make Obama the next president.

Thirty years from now, when Paterno's five young children ask what he did to save the country, he said, he could tell them he helped to get Obama elected president.

Charles Dumas, a theatre professor at Penn State who also spoke at the event, said he has supported Obama since the candidate was a community organizer. He encouraged people to volunteer at the local campaign office.

Dumas brought up an old saying: Vote early and vote often.

"I'm not suggesting that you vote often," Dumas said. But, he added, asking other people like neighbors, roommates and housemates to vote increases an individual's power to influence the election.

Casey Miller, youth vote director for Penn State Students for Barack Obama, also addressed the crowd. She said she hoped half or more of those present in the BJC would get involved with the campaign.

Obama appeared on a screen above the stage to specifically address the BJC crowd, yet his voice could barely be heard over the cheering.

"No matter which candidate you favor, take part in this election," Obama said. He also thanked the Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead, who he called legendary musicians.

The Grateful Dead got a standing ovation before they had even emerged on the stage. During their first song, hundreds of glow sticks erupted from one side of the crowd on the floor of the venue.
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