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Friday, October 22, 2010

Reflecting Back 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 over the past years.

There's the friends. There's the music. And then there's the kids.

The Bridge Benefit Concerts are not really so much a Neil Young concert, but much more a celebration of a diverse range of bands of up and comers.

Here's some thoughts on Bridge School Benefit Weekend at last year's 2009 concerts...

As Gwen Stefani said after performing, “I can’t believe this is my life.”

For 2009, maybe 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. Nonetheless, 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.


More on the upcoming 2010 Bridge School 24th Annual Benefit Concert and lineup listing of performers.

Also, see:
- Performer Lineup for 24th Annual (2010) Bridge School Benefit Concerts
- Buffalo Springfield ... Again: Reunion After 42 Years This Weekend
- Bridge School Benefit Concert Reviews, Photos, Videos, etc.
- The Charitable Mr. Neil Young Keeps On Giving & Giving & Giving
- Bridge School Memories: Here We Are In The Years

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At 10/22/2010 01:24:00 PM, Blogger BecauseSoundMatters said...

Thanks for all the BSB celebration Thrasher and Thrashette!
From this side of the ocean I wish you all a very good and inspirational BSB weekend. It's gonna be a historic one! The Buffalo Springfield again! Finally. Super cool. Can't wait to see it on U-Tube. Played their old records last week again. Wow. A nice surprise after not listening to them for a while. "Walk with me" is on the old turntable right now. I allways keep thinking about Holger Czukay when I hear that song. With Jah Wobble. Don't know why. Anyway it's the Springfield again. Have fun and peace! BSM

At 10/22/2010 07:10:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

Yes, thanks for the retrospective of past benefits. I really enjoyed getting a flavor of the different acts, and the kids. I only knew Gwen Stefani as a name before, but was very touched by her interaction with the kids. Hopefully, I will be able to actually attend one of these some year.

A Friend Of Yours


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