BernStock Raleigh poster 3

This week my mother, aka Grandma M, returning from a visit to my sister, a teacher and Bernie Sanders volunteer in New Jersey, reported that she hadn’t at first understood my sister’s “Feel the Bern” sticker. Confused and guessing geographical references to Switzerland, she had been gently corrected. But a few septuagenarians aside, I would have to agree with Arielle Bryant that Bernie Sanders’s name recognition is sky high.

BernStock Raleigh poster

Bryant, a self-described mystic and lover of story, is the organizer of BernStock taking place this Saturday at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh. BernStock is running from 2pm to 2am with two stages, there will bands and music day and night.

A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to the Bernie Sanders campaign and the June 7th California primary. (Bryant doesn’t want Sanders to get in trouble with FEC for donations from a private entity.) There will be a table at the event “The Bernie Booth” where guests at the festival can make contributions directly to Bernie via Act Blue. There will be an announcement of total donations at the end of the night and vendor donated “Thank you Gifts” for contributors.

Bryant says her father introduced her to Bernie Sanders campaign. She was taken in by how Bernie, in her own words, “not attractive, not young, talks funny, walks funny, and simply defies all the mass cultural stereotypes of what a hero looks like” could generate so much enthusiasm, such a mass reaction.

Senator Bernie Sanders, twenty-five years ago

Senator Bernie Sanders, twenty-five years ago

Bernie Sanders today

Bernie Sanders today

In a wide ranging conversation at Parts and Labor in Durham, Arielle Bryant referenced sources from Plato to Malcolm Gladwell to explain Sanders surge as an outsider candidate against a huge, establishment favorite.

Bryant admitted, personally, she is a driven, doer, someone who wants to be the tip of the spear, the sort who is haunted when she doesn’t take action when there is opportunity available. Bryant also noted, “There is rarely ever ONE person behind bringing something like BernStock to life…so many people are open to thinking, discussing and most importantly ACTING on their beliefs.”

Bryant noted that Clinton’s lead in super delegates, who are not, in fact, truly committed yet, is like seeding a tip jar. People want to vote for a winner. They don’t want their vote for Bernie Sanders to simply be a protest. Arielle Bryant doesn’t either. She believes firmly that Sanders can still be President.

Durham's Indy Week cover embodied the spirit

Durham’s Indy Week cover embodied the spirit

Arielle Bryant is pinning her hopes, like so many Sanders supporters, on Bernie winning the California primary and ultimately showing the party Hillary Clinton is unelectable. Even this reporter has to concede, Clinton has won very few states outside of what is considered the solidly Republican South and her carpetbag, New York. If Sanders were to win California, the logic might become: aren’t Clinton’s supporters likely to hold their noses and support Bernie, whereas Bernie’s diehards might stay home or even defect to the next most outsider candidate, Trump.

Arielle Bryant is charismatic in her confidence and energy. She says her Dad was a fashion photographer in Washington, DC area. When I wonder how that led her down this path, she admits her Grandmother worked in the Pentagon and has been praised and thanked multiple times by President Obama, including for her services in helping military families on the day of 9/11. (Her Grandma was in the Pentagon that day.)

Bryant’s earnestness makes more sense in this context. Still in her twenties, but mission driven, she concedes the shadow of 9/11 was part of her childhood. This weekend that culminates in something that is part of the #BernieLoveWave.

We talked about the flower children and how all of these candidates, Clinton, Trump, and Sanders are in their seventies. We wondered what had become of that wave. Bryant said specifically referencing the BernStock event that she has been both pleasantly surprised by many people’s generosity in their willingness to support a movement for change and genuinely surprised by many harsh capitalist interactions she has had where other actors justified their less than ethical behavior with, “You can’t blame me for being a businessman.”

Probably not a refrain Trump supporters wish to be reminded of.

Bryant wants people to know BernStock is kid-friendly. Although after 7pm/8pm, it is probably going to get a little loud. The headliners include GruFetish and Temple 5.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 day of, $5 for kids.

More info available at or on the BernStock Twitter @BernStockRal

It should be noted that Bern-a-Poolza, BernieMan, and Bern-a-Roo were already taken.

written by Aaron Mandel

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