Artists have long loved playing in Santa Cruz County, an area that is known for fans who passionately support live music.
On Saturday night (Dec. 5), it was time for many of these artists to say thank you – and, even more so, we love you – to the region during “Love You Madly – A Stream For Santa Cruz Fire Relief” benefit show.
Bonnie Raitt, Boz Scaggs, Sammy Hagar, Kevin Cronin, Steve Earle, Joe Satriani, Los Lobos, Laurie Lewis, John Doe, Colin Hay, the String Cheese Incident, Andrew St. James, the California Honeydrops, Twiddle, Rogue Wave and Y&T were among the roughly 30 acts who contributed to help out those impacted by the tragic CZU Lightning Complex Fire, the devastating wildfire that reportedly ranks as the most destructive in Santa Cruz County history.
The performances – which were pre-recorded in a variety of formats, from simple home recordings to full-length videos to concert footage – were uniformly strong. The majority were recorded specifically for this benefit, although there was some archival footage, mainly associated with the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco.
It was free to watch the stream but music fans were asked to donations, which go directly to the Fire Response Fund that is managed by Community Foundation Santa Cruz County (CFSCC). Donations are still being accepted at santacruzfirerelief.org and http://cfscc.org/loveyoumadly.
The benefit concert is available for viewing on YouTube (search for “Love You Madly” “Santa Cruz“), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5LM4BLKigk.
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Here are 10 highlights from this memorable benefit show, listed in order that there were shown:
1, Bay Area bluegrass great Laurie Lewis and local folk-music favorite Nina Gerber combined forces for a powerful version of “Don’t Get to Close,” performed in an otherwise empty (well, besides, obviously, a sound / camera person or two) Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.
2, Wolf jett’s video for “Garden of Pain” was the most poignant musical moment of the entire 2 1/2 show. The video showed the Boulder Creek band performing in the ashes of drummer John Payne and his wife Elizabeth’s former home, which was completely destroyed during the fire.
3, Santa Cruz hip-hop sensation Alwa gordon showcased his immense skill on the microphone as he rapped and sang through a compelling version of “On My Way.”
4, Oakland indie-rockers Rogue Wave showed immense good taste as it turned to the songbook of the coolest rock band of all time – Roxy Music – for a banjo-driven, backyard version of “More Than This” from the iconic 1982 offering “Avalon.”
5, Kevin cronin, the amazing lead singer from the severely underrated rock act REO Speedwagon, appeared on our screens from his living room in Southern California and sang a number as the glow of his fireplace shown over his left shoulder. The number was one of the band’s best – “Keep Pushin ‘” – which kickstarts 1976’s “REO” “It’s a song about the resilience of the human spirit,” Cronin said.
6, Next up was punk-rock royalty time as the mighty X-man – John doe from X – ran through the rowdy country-rocker “Don’t Forget How Much I Love You.”
7, The best harmonies of the night came courtesy of Oakland’s own T Sisters, who absolutely wowed with their a cappella version of the folk song / hymn “How Can I Keep From Singing.”
8, Singer-songwriter Andrew St. James showed why he’s considered a rising star on the Bay Area music scene as he delivered a powerful version of “Olivia, Can You Hear Me Now?”
9, The California Honeydrops borrowed one of the best songs ever written – Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia’s “Ripple,” which was featured on the Grateful Dead studio album “American Beauty” from 1970 – as it performed from the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley.
10, Organizers saved the best for last, as two of the Bay Area’s all-time greats – Bonnie raitt and Boz scaggs – brought their voices together, while singing from different locations, on a cover of the Sam & Dave classic “When Something Is Wrong with My Baby.”