If you’ve watched any Bernie Sanders presidential campaign event you probably noticed there’s a damn good selection of music being played at these shindigs: classic soul, uptempo funk, chilled downtempo and even some disco, dance and alt-rock thrown in for good measure. We’re talking about everything from Deee-Lite’s “Grove Is In The Heart” to Funkadelic’s “Not Just Knee Deep” and David Bowie‘s “Starman.” The man behind the flow of quality tunes is Mel Sandico, a.k.a. Mel Cavaricci, a.k.a. DJ Mel, an Austin, TX-based mixmaster and talent buyer for Lollapalooza.
Sandico’s foray into the political DJ booth dates back to 2008 when he met John Liipfert, who oversees music for the Democratic Party and President Obama. That connection led to his gig playing for Obama’s re-election night as well as the 2013 presidential inauguration and multiple White House Easter Egg Rolls. When Liipfert offered Sandico the DJ gig with Sanders, he was considering supporting Hillary Clinton for president. After learning more about the Vermont senator’s policies he felt the Bern and has been on the road with the maverick politician ever since.
“I’m a music person, since I was a little kid. Always bought records, always been up to my neck in it,” Sandico told The Observer. “So with that said, I think people who aren’t don’t actually know the importance of music. But everyone loves music. Doesn’t matter where you’re from, what school you went to, what color you are and how much money you make. I don’t think these other candidates fully grasp the importance of music. It’s obvious, listen to what they’re playing!”
A cursory scan of Twitter shows that people are taking notice of his work behind the decks and are loving what they are hearing:
— Ted Daniel (@tvnewzted) February 10, 2016
Only at a Bernie rally… pic.twitter.com/cP1L2rVdAy
— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) February 10, 2016
The Sanders camp has a DJ. Like a real one. His name is DJ Mel and he’s from Texas. pic.twitter.com/1tudSIsj7u
— Sam Evans-Brown (@SamEBNHPR) February 10, 2016
— Jason Horowitz (@jasondhorowitz) February 2, 2016
If you’re wondering how much the gig warming up crowds for Sanders pays, it doesn’t — he’s spinning for free. But Sandico isn’t sweating it because he thinks of his gig more as a contribution to the 74-year-old candidate’s grassroots presidential campaign.
“I don’t want any money from it,” he says, a departure from the
greedy capitalistic mindset of most top 1% DJs. “I just think this is an honor.”
Image via DJMel.com