Every once in a while life hands you an event that is so immeasurably positive it allows you to affirm your trust that everything is going to be okay. About a year ago we had the honour of being part of such an event, at the 2009 Bridge School Benefit. Neil and Pegi Young host the concert annually in the Bay Area, with all proceeds going toward the school, which educates and aids children with severe speech and physical impairments.
The show is unique in that all the performers are required to play their entire set acoustically. Originally the idea was to keep the volume under control but the real bonus is you feel like you could be sitting around a campfire, whether it’s Lou Reed or Metallica, what you see is what you get…no tricks. There was definitely a feeling of magic in the air which was strangely confirmed during our set as we played “It’s a Funny Thing.” Just when the words “as the power goes” left Adam’s lips, the stage power actually went out…good thing it was acoustic! There was also the equally surreal and hilarious moment when we stood sidestage next to Adam Sandler and watched Jimmy Buffet auction off the very flip flops he was wearing. What?!
Then came the flood of talent with too many moments to mention:
Sheryl Crow took total command of the sold out crowd.
Fleet Foxes let their lush harmonies wash over us like a warm blanket.
Wolfmother continued to impress by pulling off their killer heavy riffs on acoustic guitars.
Chris Martin told jokes, played Scott Joplin and thoroughly entertained.
No Doubt exploded with a full horn section led by a genuinely emotional Gwen Stefani.
Then of course came Neil, with Pegi joining him on a few songs. They serenely led us through a string of iconic material…it was perfect.
As the show neared the end all of the artists, including us in our most humbled state, joined Neil and Pegi onstage for a final version of “Comes a Time.” Alongside us were the real stars of the nights, the Bridge School students who had been onstage with the performers throughout the evening, enthusiastically enjoying the show. As we all happily sang and clapped along side by side on a warm October evening there was no questioned that we had experienced something pretty special and been taught a few things about life and music along the way.
This year’s Bridge Benefit happens next weekend (October 23 & 24) at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View CA, and though we won’t be there as performers this year, we urge all our friends and fans to attend this timeless and inspiring annual event in support of the Bridge School! – Jocelyn