GOP's Cleveland convention already lining up rock stars
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A possible leading role for Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: LeBron James's 'racist rants' are divisive, nasty North Carolina man accused of fraudulently obtaining .5M in PPP loans Biden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies MORE means July's GOP convention in Cleveland will come pre-built for celebrity, and Republicans are already planning the party.

Events surrounding the presidential nomination are beginning to take shape, and operatives are showing off acts including country singers such as Big & Rich and rock stars Dave Navarro and Mark McGrath.

While the shows are unaffiliated with the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the official convention, they are among dozens of events  thrown by media companies, lobbyists, companies and trade groups that take place during the weeklong convention.


GOP front-runner Trump has divided Republicans and celebrities alike with his controversial campaign for the White House, but Doug Davenport, executive director of Rev the Vote says that Trump’s potential presence is a driver for some entertainers.

Of the celebrities, bands and groups he’s working with, “many of them are now more interested in participating in Cleveland because of the celebrity atmosphere that comes with Donald Trump,” said Davenport, a former aide to Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential bid, in an email.

Rev the Vote is already trying to attract sponsors to its July 19 event, produced in association with Duke Energy, which features a performance by the Royal Machines — a band consisting of Sugar Ray frontman McGrath, The Cult‘s Billy Morrison, Navarro and his Jane’s Addiction bandmate Chris Chaney.

The now-defunct Camp Freddy, a band featuring many members of the Royal Machines, also played at an event surrounding the GOP convention in 2012.

Rev the Vote is a nonpartisan organization aimed at increasing voter registration and participation among motorsports fans. It counts a diverse set of more than two dozen members of Congress on its advisory board, including Reps. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) as co-chairmen.

During the day, the event will offer guests activities including a “rally cross” obstacle course led by stunt drivers.

Rev the Vote is also holding a similar event the following week in Philadelphia, during the Democratic National Convention, featuring Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh.

Concerts and parties held by consultants, lobbyists and political fundraisers are generally fairly close to the convention compound and receive corporate sponsorships, with ticket prices ranging from a few thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars. The events attract members of Congress, delegates, staffers and other convention attendees able to score a ticket.

GOP fundraiser Sara Bonjean, founder of Rose Strategies, also sent an email on Wednesday notifying potential partygoers and sponsors about a concert at Jacobs Pavilion in Cleveland.

Her firm is working with Concerts for a Cause, Harbinger Outreach, the Townsend Group, Shamrock Advisors and Gravatt Entertainment to put on a concert for the first four days of the convention with performances by artists including Big & Rich, Pat Green and Lee Brice.

Facebook is one of the leading sponsors, according to the email.

Another draw for guests? Both the events at Jacobs Pavilion and the Rev the Vote party have a charitable component.

The Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., during the 2012 election season produced some high-profile events, including ones featuring Trace Adkins, Kid Rock, Journey, Zac Brown Band, country singer Rodney Atkins, and DJ Steve Aoki, who headlined a concert for Rock the Vote and StartUp RockOn.

The RNC also brought some serious star power to its own official events, lining up Lynyrd Skynyrd, 3 Doors Down, Taylor Hicks, Randy Owen, Lane Turner, Neal E. Boyd and Philip Alongi, among many others.

The Democratic National Convention in 2012, by comparison, included performances by the Foo Fighters, Mary J. Blige, James Taylor, Delta Rae and Marc Anthony, who sang the national anthem.


This post was updated on Jan. 30 at 12:35 a.m.