It’s a party: Convention delegates rock and roll on

ABC’s Charles Gibson reports on the GOP partying on despite John McCain’s pleas to tone it down because of Gustav.

On Sunday, John McCain said by satellite feed from St. Louis that the Republican National Convention convening in St. Paul to nominate him would set aside party politics as Hurricane Gustav threatened to hit New Orleans. “We’re going to suspend most of our activities tomorrow except for those absolutely necessary.”

Clearly, convention delegates interpreted McCain’s words to mean that the parties hosted and paid for by corporate sponsors were absolutely necessary.

At a party for the Southern Delegation at First Avenue on Sunday night, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions urged the crowd to make donations to help people in the Gulf threatened by Gustav. He then thanked “the nuclear industry” and other sponsors of the event before shouting out an introduction to veteran rocker Sammy Hagar, who proceeded to mug his merry way through a set of hits and new material while a dressed-up crowd gazed impassively or checked their Blackberries.

Typical attire for men featured a blazer or suit jacket over a dress shirt, no tie, with the top button daringly undone. Most of the women there were in heels and many wore slinky dresses. Not quite the usual First Ave. apparel.

Hagar, former Van Halen lead singer, is a longtime donor to California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, perhaps the fiercest congressional critic of illegal immigration.

Hagar’s former band mates apparently don’t share his conservative politics, however. When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s selection as John McCain’s running mate was announced Friday, a part of a Van Halen song, “Right Now,” was played at the event. The re-formed band (with lead singer David Lee Roth in Hagar’s place) later issued a terse statement to the effect that it hadn’t been asked for permission to use the song and didn’t approve of its use.

Hagar, who co-wrote the song back in the 1980s, issued his own statement:  It was fine by him if the McCain campaign used the tune.

Palin and Van Halen
A weird twist to the minor dust-up is that the Associated Press has reported that Palin’s 4-month-old son Trig Paxson Van Palin was named, in part, in homage to the band (look at the last two names).   

None of this was talked about at the show, nor was much of anything else discussed, as the four-piece band roared along at too-loud-for-schmoozing levels.

The only conversation I had at the show began just before Hagar took the stage. Music blared from the sound system as people took photos of themselves posing in front of the corporate logos projected onto a screen lowered in front of the stage. Sponsors included Wal-Mart, power companies Entergy and Southern Company, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the American Physical Therapy Association and insurance company Aflac, among many others).

A man leaned close before shouting out, “Can you tell me who Sammy Hagar is?”
 
When I yelled back a response about Van Halen and Hagar’s hit, “I Can’t Drive 55,” I got a blank look in response.

As the band played its opening numbers, I looked over and saw the man, probably about 60 years old, standing there with his hands clasped over his ears.

“Awful!” he shouted.

Hagar was having a good time, though, as he and the band paused after their opening numbers.

“I’m extremely happy to be here,” said the bleached blonde guitarist and vocalist before taking a big swig of a margarita. “And I’ll be even happier as the night goes on.”

He, too, was part of the lobbying theme. He sported a T-shirt emblazoned in big letters with “Cabo Wabo”; the name of his nightclubs and the tequila brand he owns a part of.

Let the good times roll
The lobbying and partying continue every night for the rest of the convention at Patrick McGovern’s Bar and Restaurant in St. Paul, where Honeywell, Citi and Anheuser Busch provide a hospitality space.

Tuesday

African American Voter Reception (sponsored by AT&T)
7 p.m.
Karma
315 First Ave. N.
Minneapolis

Texas Honky Tonk (sponsored by AT&T)
Featuring Gretchen Wilson, John Rich and Cowboy Troy
5 p.m.
Trocaderos
107 Third Ave. North
Minneapolis

Ag Nite (the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, and dozens of sponsors, host the event)
Featuring Styx
8 p.m.
The Depot Minneapolis
225 Third Ave. S.
Minneapolis

Magnum Entertainment Event
Featuring Jack Ingram and Robert Earl Keen
9 p.m.
Fine Line Music Café
318 First Ave. N.
Minneapolis

A Little Straight Rock (sponsored by the Arkansas delegation)
9:30 p.m.
Spin
10 S. Fifth St.
Minneapolis

The Sun and Wind Reception (sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association)
9 p.m.
Solera
900 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis


Wednesday

The One Campaign (sponsored by the Recording Industry Association of America)
10 p.m.
Epic
110 N. Fifth St.
Minneapolis

AT&T reception— Ohio delegates
9 p.m.
Brit’s Pub
1110 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis

Daimler honors Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina delegates
9 p.m.
Windows on Minnesota at the Marquette Hotel
710 Marquette Ave. S.
Minneapolis

Target Presents the Creative Coalition Gala Concert
Featuring the Charlie Daniels Band
10 p.m.
The Depot Minneapolis
225 Third Ave. S.
Minneapolis


Thursday


American Conservative Union Foundation Tribute to the Reagan Revolution (sponsored by AT&T)
9 p.m.
Aqua Nightclub
400 First Ave. N.
Minneapolis

Hispanic voter reception (sponsored by AT&T)

7 p.m.
Karma
315 First Ave. N.
Minneapolis


Michael Metzger writes about the arts and other topics for MinnPost. He can be reached at mmetzger [at] minnpost [dot] com.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply