EAST LOS ANGELES – Getting ready for a concert can be a tedious and time-consuming affair.
There’s strumming, plucking, drumming, and ringing, not to mention a whole lot of mic checks. But no matter how stressful it gets, it’s what comes next that makes it all worthwhile.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Wil-Dog Abers, a member of the Grammy Award-winning band Ozomatli told Spectrum News 1. “Music is a very primal thing.”
But on Saturday, Abers was feeling extra nervous.
“This is bigger than us,” he said. “This is bigger than my band. We feel like this is a service we have to give. “
A SoCal fusion band, Ozomatli got its big break in the late 90s performing with Carlos Santana and has since been heating up the music world with its mix of Latin, hip-hop and rock music.
But these days, the group is doing something their accountant probably wish they hadn’t: diving head first into the heated 2020 presidential race as the opening act for Bernie Sanders at his rally at Woodrow Wilson High School in East LA.
“You have to stand up for what you believe in and that goes for anybody,” Abers said. “As a band we believe that Bernie is the best choice.”
Musicians often stay away from politics for fear of alienating their fan base. But all six members Ozomatli have been feeling the Bern.
“When it comes down to it he’s the candidate that reflects my values,” band member Ulises Bella said.
Since California moved up its primary date by three months, becoming an early voting state, presidential hopefuls have been stepping up their efforts to woo the state’s increasingly powerful Latino population.
But no one has been able to do it quite as well as Sanders. He’s raised more money from Latino donors than any of his Democratic rivals. And according to a recent poll, 31 percent of Latino registered voters planned to vote for Sanders, compared with 22 percent for former Vice President Joe Biden and 11 percent for Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“Everything Bernie says, from his domestic policies to his international policies, I’m a big fan of,” Aurelio Barrientos, a real-estate broker who attended the rally, told Spectrum News 1.
But while Latinos account for 39 percent of California’s population, turnout among Latino voters is still lagging compared to other groups.
Which is why Ozomatli is going all out trying to get voters fired up about the 2020 election.
“This is a movement,” Abers said. “We got to keep it going.”