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March 30, 2007

A Benefit Concert for the Midnight Mission of Los Angeles

The Malibu Performing Arts Center (MPAC) was the place to be on March 23 as upper tier acts such as Richie Sambora, Jackson Browne and Los Lobos lent their musical talents on behalf of a very worthy cause, Los Angeles’ Midnight Mission.��

Established by Tom Liddecoat in 1914, the Midnight Mission is an agency dedicated to combating homelessness and substance abuse. It’s located in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles and has been sited by America’s premier charity evaluators – Charity Navigator and Guide Star – as one of the most efficient and well-managed charities in the country. The Mission receives no funding from state, local or federal government agencies, thus all its great work is made possible through the generosity of its donors.

MPAC, situated just off PCH, boasts one of the most intelligent and efficiently designed concert venues in Los Angeles. Both the sound and lighting are state-of-the-art and, despite the pristine exterior, it’s a very intimate locale.

Helping to benefit the Mission, a selection of rare guitars and jewelry, as well as guitar lessons, courtesy of Richie Sambora, were auctioned off. Sambora (lead guitarist of Bon Jovi) acted as the evening’s host, and kept things pumping with a convivial looseness. He good-naturedly peppered his sentences with “f-bombs” from left to right, while at the same time helping to raise awareness for the cause everyone in attendance was supporting.

The first act to get things rocking was the Zen Cruisers, a rock super group consisting of Clem Burke (Blondie), Elliot Easton (the Cars), Doug Feiger (the Knack) and Teddy “Zig Zag” Andreadis (Guns N’ Roses, Alice Cooper, Carol King).

The Cruisers got things rolling with a stellar rendition of Cream’s “Tales of Brave Ulysses.” They continued their wild joy ride courtesy of the lost but not forgotten “Theme for an Imaginary Western.” These outings were followed by excellent versions of the Beatles’ “The Word” and Traffic’s “Mr. Fantasy” (which transitioned effortlessly into The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and concluded with a hard-rocking “L.A. Woman”-like crescendo).

Next was Sambora’s turn to play. Backed by a spot-on trio consisting of guitar, bass and keyboards, he offered up the popular “Livin’ on a Prayer,” which included a shimmering piano solo by Jeff Young. “Prayer” was followed by the upbeat “It’s My Life” and, in turn, followed by the always-welcome Joe Cocker adaptation of “With a Little Help from My Friends.” Here, Sambora and his mates rocked things hard but still left room for some pretty harmonies. Lastly, they entertained the crowd with a warm, soulful and bluesy version of “Wanted: Dead or Alive.”

Following Sambora, Jackson Browne took the stage. Browne was also aided by the talented Jeff Young. They opened with “Barricades of Heaven,” the audience instantly taking to Browne’s smooth, penetrating vocals. For Browne’s second number, he was joined on stage by a pair of excellent, young backup singers, each contributing just the right balance of grit and depth to Browne’s vividly ingraining tales. Of particular note was the powerful, gospel- infused voice of Chavonne Morris. Browne’s third number was the appropriately selected “Lives in the Balance,” this being a precursor to the beautiful and uplifting, “Don’t You Want to Be There?” Browne placed a nightcap on his moving set with an effective take on “The Next Voice You Hear.”

East L.A. natives Los Lobos closed the show in superlative form as those in attendance danced incessantly to tasty helpings of their Tex-Mex, R&B and traditional Spanish/Mexican fare. The long-standing outfit shined on the crowd-pleasing “Let’s Say Goodnight,” even slipping in a hint of the classic “Love Light” on its back end.

The evening’s highlight saw Los Lobos joined on stage by Sambora and Elliot Easton, who lent their services to a banner version of “Not Fade Away.” The Buddy Holly classic meandered its way into the Grateful Dead’s boogie-inducing “Bertha” and then, trailed by the Latino combo’s popular take on Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba,” culminated with a joyously bopping interpretation of the eternal favorite, “Good Lovin’.”

$44,000 was raised from the live auction while the silent auction brought in $8,500. For more information on the Midnight Mission, go to midnightmission.org.

Posted by riesambo at March 30, 2007 06:33 AM