Santa Monica High School’s Greek Theater is going to really rock this Saturday night with the sounds of Billy Idol, Dave Mason and Venice (the band) in a benefit concert for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District music programs.Last year’s concert raised about $100,000 from ticket sales and a silent auction. This year the School District is hoping even more money will be raised because the concert venue was changed from Barnum Hall to the more than twice as large Greek Theater.The concert is being produced once again by the Artist for the Arts Foundation (AFTAF), a nonprofit foundation dedicated to producing fundraising concerts. When the members of Venice helped form the non-profit, the goal was to obtain sponsorships to write-off one hundred percent of the production costs so all the ticket proceeds could benefit the District. Venice’s Michael Lennon told the Mirror that this year will be different because “sponsorships were much harder to get” and the production costs for the larger venue are more expensive. His band mate, Kipp Lennon noted the foundation’s model “was not created during a recession.” Venice began in 1977 and is made up of two sets of brothers who are cousins to each other. Two of the band members are brothers to the Lennon Sisters. After growing up in musical families they gravitated towards each other after playing at high school parties and dances. Michael Lennon stated that the band is actually more popular in Holland and Europe than the United States. Some of this is due to their exposure on Holland television. Their most recent CD is Good Evening… A Night of Live Acoustic Music. and they will soon be releasing a live acoustic DVD that has already been released in Holland.Michael Lennon will once again be the concert Musical Director. He and Kipp are very excited about having the chance to work with rock icon Billy Idol and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason. He explained that the concert would include six hits from each of them. He also emphasized that it gives the rock stars a chance to approach their music from a different angle because student musicians would accompany them. Kipp Lennon stressed this is a “totally different opportunity for the students because they are working with rock stars.” It gives them the chance to use their talent in a different way so it makes them “more musically versatile.” Dave Mason also spoke to the Mirror. He began his career as a founding member of Traffic and despite working with many of the rock legends such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Jimi Hendrix found Traffic one of his most favorite experiences. His song “Feelin Alright” which has been recorded by dozens of other artists and was one of Joe Cocker’s biggest hits, will be performed at the benefit concert. The inspiration for the song was a relationship with a girl and the song has just two chords. His most recent CD was released last October and is titled 26 Letters and 12 Notes.Mason is from England but has been living in the United States since 1968. He works as a proponent for musical education in U.S. public schools as a Board member of Little Rock, an organization that provides students with musical instruments. He “thinks exposure to music is important” for all young people. Mason’s other philanthropic work includes his own charity, Work Vessels for Veterans, which is based out of Connecticut. He became involved with veterans because he is very “passionate about people who put on a uniform to defend our way of life.” This organization helps returning veterans re-establish or establish careers by giving them boats, trucks, or laptops.Billy Idol was not available for an interview.
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