Jackson Browne, local band Venice and the legendary Heart took the stage at Santa Monica High School’s Barnum Hall last Saturday night to raise funds for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s arts programs.
The concert, now in its fifth year, raised about $100,000 from tickets that ranged in price from $50 to $1,000, and from a live auction. This year’s major corporate sponsors were City National Bank and the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Their sponsorship, along with donations from other corporations and For the Arts (a campaign of SMMEF – the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation), the Artists for the Arts Foundation (AFTAF), a nonprofit foundation dedicated to producing fundraising concerts, and the local community will make it possible for 100 percent of the concert’s revenues to go towards funding music programs in the District.
Just a few of the many programs the concert will help fund include a guitar class at Olympic High School, the Dream Winds program at Lincoln Middle School (LMS), and a World Drumming Class at LMS and John Adams Middle School. According to Linda Gross, the Executive Director of SMMEF, “The remaining money will be added to the District’s Arts Endowment Fund which is currently funding the dance and drama programs at all 3 District high schools.”
Jody Brooks, President of SMMEF, told the Mirror, “There’s a large contingency of fans from outside the community who eagerly anticipate the concert every year.” This year, the sell-out crowd of 1,250 included fans from as far away as Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Holland,.
Fans rocked to Venice, including “We’re Still Here,” songs “Back to the Well,” and “Baby’s Calling.” Headliner Browne performed “Barracades” in addition to “In the Shape of a Heart.” SAMOHI Principal Hugo Pedroza then joined him on a wooden flute to play “Lives In the Balance.” Browne then joined Heart for the performance of “Something Fine.” Heart also sang “These Dreams” with the SAMOHI Girls Choir and “Crazy on You” with Venice and two Olympic High School guitar class students. The final jam, always a highlight at this fundraiser, included Venice singing a medley of “Superstition,” “Fame,” “Sledge Hammer” and “Only Rock and Roll.” Heart then joined Venice on “Tell It Like It Is,” and Browne and Venice played “Domino” and “Running On Empty.” The finale ended with Browne and Venice singing “Take It Easy” with the SAMOHI Girls Choir and Orchestra. The concert concluded with Venice’s Kipp Lennon saying, “See you next year.”
Gross stressed that the concert not only “raises a lot of money” but s a great “opportunity for kids to get up there and play with professionals.” For The Arts hopes this summer to release a promotional DVD of last year’s concert “to highlight why people should support the arts.”