BRIDGE SCHOOL BENEFIT
“Would you guys like to do The Bridge School Benefit show at The Shoreline Amphitheater with Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Pearl Jam, Buffalo Springfield and Modest Mouse?” Umm……OF COURSE!! We learnt that we had been asked to do this show while we were on tour, and while it was Billy’s fourth appearance at the annual benefit show, it would be my first. And I was excited to be a part of such a huge show, with such long reaching and beneficial arms. For those of you who don’t know, The Bridge School is an innovative organization educating children with severe speech and physical impairments. The kids are amazing and Neil Young organizes and hosts the annual concert to help raise funds for the school. So a few weeks after our US tour finished, I found myself in a car with Steve Stevens (we had played in San Francisco the previous night with Camp Freddy) driving down to meet Jeremy, McG and Billy at the early morning soundcheck. Feeling somewhat worse for wear after the previous nights festivities (even being sober, the effects of rock n roll, way too much coffee and a late night get to you after a while!!) we arrived backstage at the venue to find our trusty crew all set up and ready for us. Last time I was here was at the 2007 Ozzfest with my band Circus Diablo and I absolutely love the place. Meeting up with the guys was great and it felt completely natural to play again – no rustiness or forgetting parts…..we really do seem to work so well together. But I started to notice a problem. It was fucking cold!! The fingers didn’t really seem to understand the instructions my brain was sending them, and Steve said the same thing. After a great soundcheck, we realized that we didn’t play until around 8.00pm and that it was only going to get colder by then. Hmmm….this should be interesting!
My afternoon was spent running around the local mall with a couple of friends that had come to see the show, and by the time we arrived back on site in the early evening, the venue was packed, and bands were playing. The search for cups of hot anything to hold in my frozen fingers began! The vibe backstage was simply beautiful. The kids from the school were everywhere with their parents and friends and literally everyone was laughing, smiling and having a great time. Talk about a feel-good gig….this one is a very special occasion. Trouble was, I couldn’t feel my fingers. One look at Steve Stevens nursing a cup of hot coffee in his hands told me he was feeling it too. By the time we hit the stage, neither of us had managed to warm up much, and on an acoustic, it’s twice as hard to get the digits moving. But on we went, and the crowd were killer. Opening with Ready Steady Go, and progressing through a Gen X acoustic set (Dancing, Boss Sound, King Rocker, Kiss Me Deadly) and ending with Rebel Yell. The kids behind us on the stage loved it, and for me, it was an absolute joy to be able to turn around and play that close to them. Our set was a success and we left the stage with numb hands and feet, but warm hearts.
Charity is a wonderful and extremely important thing, and I am so fortunate that I am able to contribute in the ways that I do. The fact that I am allowed on a daily basis to pay my bills by playing music fills me with gratitude, and to me, it’s necessary to say yes as much as possible any time I am asked to help. Music is a powerful weapon and provides joy to so many people, and it doesn’t matter if I am at a huge Charity event like this one, playing with Billy and Steve and the guys, or playing a small club somewhere attempting to keep a school arts program alive. A huge thank you goes out from us to Neil and all the organizers, performers and kids….. what a great day. I know we are all looking forward to seeing some of you next month when we head out for a few California holiday shows. It feels like forever since we turned the amps up and played a full show, so if you are in Cali in December….get off yer arse and come spend an evening with us! See you in a few weeks.