Thoughts on Bridge School Benefit Weekend 2009
Pegi & Neil Young
Photo frame Video Highlights of Bridge School Benefit Concerts - 2009
There are many, many things which strike us after attending the Bridge School Benefit shows this past weekend.
There's the friends. There's the music. And then there's the kids.
First, our friends.
- Scott "Surfer Joe" - a real thrill to meet the editor of NYAS's Broken Arrow. Truly enjoyed catching up.
- Tom on "Sugar Mountain" - a bit brief but good to finally meet up
- Roel of "Rust Radio" - great meeting you as well. Sorry on your luggage and hope it turns up eventually.
- Sheila "Lookout Mama" - thanks for making Rust Row happen and all of your hard work. In Rust we Trust.
- The IRF Organizers - Thanks for all you do each year. A lot of hard is appreciated by all.
- Kathy "Hippie Girl Smile" - good to see you coming along and not letting anything keep you from BSB. Thanks to you & Raffle Crew.
- Kathy "Summer of Love" - so nice to see you again. Thanks for all the IRF work!
- Mike "Expecting To Fly" & Pat "She who shall remain handle-less" - what a fun weekend together. Thanks for flying us out and giving us the 1st Class treatment.
- Chris "CW Cannoneer" & Paula - thanks for bringing the Bruce book. Winterland stories live on.
- Mary Marr - we're so sorry on the loss of your husband Johnny this year. Johnny's spirit was at Bridge. You're so strong and anything we can ever do for you and your family,please don't hesitate to ask.
- Archives Guy - It was great to finally meet up and put the face with the handle. ;) Thanks for the tour. Way cool.
- HarryO - thanks for the Seattle newspaper. We'll try and get up on TW soon.
- Miron "Stub Man" - your mission to ensure that everyone is in the 100's for Neil is truly heroic. Thank you.
- Karen "loveandaffection" & Tim the Roadie - "Drifter" by request?! Wow. Nice.
- Jim B - nice to see you & your puppy.
- Laurie from Long Island - thanks again for the MSG, NYC pix.
- Paulette - as always, it was too brief.
- All IRF Musicians - you guys kicked out the jams. KORITFW
- Jeff `Hip Drag Queen' - great music
- Jules "Neil Jagger" - now which era does Neil sing like that?!
- Andy "Cutlass Supreme" - "Cannons don't sink ships, Pirates with cannons sink ships" Arggggh.
- Jill "Sweet Sweet Smile" - your donation to BSB was generous beyond words
- Kathy Dx3 - again, too brief
- Deb "Rewriting Rules" - now I know why you have your handle. Just kidding.
- Chuck "Mo the Sleaze" - You were so right on Neil playing with Sandler! You must have contacts.... ;)
- Chuck "Fireman" - good to see you again. been a long time
- Guy "Volume Drinker #1" - there's a Motel of Lost Companions t-shirt somewhere in Japan with your name on it.
- Paul "Volume Drinker #2" - it takes bullocks to make unscheduled pitstops. Cheers.
- Marilyn - you, my friend, need yourself your own band to lead. You rocked sister.
- Bill "Tired Eyes"- why are you at every concert I go to?
- Rick "Rockin' on the Porch" - you sir, are very funny. Thanks for the patch!
- Nan - Great jams! Hoping for no ice storms this season. See you in Kansas.
- Trish - again, too brief
- Paul & Meleya - nice to see you again paul and meet your fiance after hearing so much about your legendary courtship to a Neil soundtrack. have a happy wedding!
- Robert "Stringman" & Kaz - thanks for your kind words of support. It's appreciated. Hope to see you both down under someday.
- Paul T - So NoCal weather beat's Seattle's?!
- Brad "More Barn" - enjoyed catching up at IRF dinner and hearing the story on the making of the immortal t-shirts
- Glenn G - enjoyed the jams
- Robert S. from France - Merci for all of the hard work making videos of the weekend. Hope you managed to have some fun between filming. Bon jour!
- Linda N. - again, all too brief
- MikeVolt - cool shirt
- Mary & Rick - you guys are a great couple
- Cyril from London - great Maz stories! Thanks for sharing.
- Christina "Little Wing" - thanks for convincing Julia to attend. Wouldn't be the same without the alter egos. Too unbalanced.
- Julia "We're Not Helpless" - Sorry about your folks. Hopefully, the weekend helped. Bummer on backpack but cool on Warren
- Jackie - congrats on MB mirror!
And Hi to everyone else that we missed this weekend!
And all the Bridge kids & parents who are so strong
Of course, Thrashette - Couldn't do this without you. Loved hearing Harvest Moon with you.
And then there's the music.
It's not a Neil Young concert, but a celebration of a diverse range of bands of up and comers like Wolfmother, edgy experiments like Monsters of Folk, to established veterans like Jimmy Buffett. Much has been made of how "weak" this year's lineup was. So we would just like to call bullshit when we see it. Frankly, we see some elitist musical snobbery going on here.
We'll admit at first glance the names Buffett, Adam Sandler, & No Doubt didn't exactly send us into an orbit of anticipation. It seemed to be a pretty widespread consensus that this year wasn't going to be up to par. No Pearl Jam, McCartney/Springsteen/Dylan/Bono type superstars.
And judging from some of the negative reviews like San Jose Mercury News by critic Jim Harrington, it was as if since Paul McCartney didn't appear and duet with Tony Bennett than it was a boring, ho-hum affair.
But you know what? Just about every act thanked Neil & Pegi and said something to the effect that it was an honor, a career highlight, their favorite gig or something of that sentiment. So who are we to complain when we hear a world class professional musician say they are humbled to be on the stage while we gripe about the quality of the acts?
As Gwen Stefani said after performing, “I can’t believe this is my life.”
But that's OK we didn't have "top caliber acts" because these high profile superstars so overshadow everything else that it becomes hard to appreciate all the other acts. We found something to enjoy in virtually every set.
Gavin Rossdale trying to be known as something more than Gwen's husband and former Bush front man. Wolfmother's acoustic assault that really got things going each day and their cover of "Don't Let it Bring you Down" was quite respectable. Fleet Foxes soaring harmonies reminded us of some other group we can't recall. ;) Monsters of Folk trading off each others solos in supporting each members' songs. Chris Martin's absolutely charming silliness and incredible piano chops. Sheryl Crow who plays for the heart and takes your soul.
And then the heavy hitters. Jimmy Buffett of Margaritaville drinking songs fame. OK, so definitely not everyone's cup of beer, but folks just love to sing his songs at the top of their lungs. That's cool. It's all about having fun. We always love it when the audience singing drowns out the performer. Buffett did a Grateful Dead cover that seemed to be worthy and "Come Monday"'s ode to the Bay area was quite sentimental.
Adam Sandler & Neil Young perform "Powderfinger"
Photo Gallery by Tim Mosenfelder
Adam Sandler. Talk about low expectations. Jeez. What's this guy doing here? Which is exactly what Adam said when he walked on, clearly awed by the whole experience. And you know what? It was freakin' hilarious. yeah, bizarre and lewd. Did seem to be pretty inappropriate with a bunch of children onstage. But then Neil comes onstage for "Powderfinger". While certainly not music history in the making or one of the all time great moments in rock history, it was still pretty memorable and something that we're sure folks will talk about for years to come.
Which leaves us with No Doubt. Again, wasn't sure quite what to expect. You could hear the 'tweens on the lawn just squealing in delight for Gwen between every quiet moment. Say what you will about Gwen Stefani and her music, but we'll challenge anyone who saw her perform "Just a Girl" on Sunday to not admit it was pure magic.
Gwen Stefani & Bridge Kids
Photo frame Video Highlights of Bridge School Benefit Concerts - 2009
You had to be there to really get it. But what she did was quite wonderful as she strolled amongst each and every kid onstage and sang to them. Watching the kids faces just burst into joy was worth every penny of the trip. It really was that great. And besides, all you could think about was how in the hell wearing those crazy shoes can she even move without toppling over? But she hopped from riser to riser and wheelchair to wheelchair with out missing a beat or breaking leg. After No Doubt's set, we overheard what appeared to be a die-hard Gwen fan say that it was the most awesome thing in her life. Which we guess is lofty praise.
So that brings us to Neil Young. You never really know what to expect with Neil and these annual benefits like Farm Aid. Some years Neil definitely plays things safe and you get the "Sugar Mountain", "I Am A Child", etc. kid/family friendly type sets.
While this year certainly wasn't a risky adventure, it was richly rewarding. This was the first time we've ever made it down into the 100's for a BSB so that was cool thanks to some of the hard working Stub Crew who epitomize the spirit of the Neil community by sharing that which brings others pleasure in such an unselfish fashion.
Back to Neil's sets. How about "Harvest Moon"? We have to say that we called this the year of the "Harvest Moon" and this weekend we got the super grand HM treatment. Pegi & Sheryl Crow on backup vocals just absolutely soared. Larry Cragg on broom. What can you say? Well fuck U2 & Bono and their spaceship laser 3D special effects and give me Larry on short bristle broom handle any day. It just blows the mind that 8 hours into a star studded concert with the hippest VIPs in the San Francisco music industry being treated to some guitar tech support dude with a broom doing a sweeping solo.
Sheryl Crow, Pegi & Neil on "Harvest Moon"
Photo by Randi Lynn Beach/LA Times
So as we listened to a magical version of "Harvest Moon" on warm evening by the San Francisco Bay, we squeezed the hand of the one we love and thought about our friends Gavin, Liza, Steve & Danielle and Mary who all lost loved ones this year. (And we feel very sorry for folks who just don't get the whole Neil & Pegi thing.)
Thank you Neil & Pegi. You made Thrasher & Thrashette's weekend dream come true.
And -- lastly -- the kids. We all say that it's all about the Bridge kids every year. Not the music but the cause. And you just can not come away from the weekend just totally in awe of the spirit and strength of these kids and their families. The struggles they face make our problems meaningless, although that don't make them go away. Which is why we try and take a portion of this sites revenue and donate to the Bridge School.
Wrapping things up here, we really were touched by all of the folks who thanked us for what we do here at Thrasher's Wheat. As we said, it's really not us that makes TW what it is but you -- the readers of this blog. It's your stories, reviews, videos, photos, links, etc that make this Neil community what it is.
So thanks everyone for a truly beautiful uplifting weekend. We love you all.
btr, btc, btw,
thrasher & thrashette
Also, see photos, reviews, videos of 2009 Bridge School Benefit Concert.