FIRST EVER MUSIC LIFEBOAT BENEFIT CONCERT:
MAKE NOISE: THE POWER OF MUSIC AND COMMUNITY
Ivar Theatre (and L.A. Film School)
Los Angeles, CA
Writing and Photography by TourBusLive.com
It’s not easy getting out on a Sunday night – even if there is music at the other end of our voyage. But when we got an eleventh-hour message from a good friend who asked us to cover this event, it took us all of four seconds to climb aboard.
The event, MAKE NOISE: THE POWER OF MUSIC AND COMMUNITY, was the first ever benefit concert by non-profit organization MUSIC LIFEBOAT – which makes music education available globally by way of FREE app/web-based music curriculum taught by world-class musicians. WHAT A BRILLIANT IDEA!! And, in an unprecedented move, the organization didn’t simply keep all the proceeds to themselves – they generously opted to EVENLY SPLIT THE PROCEEDS with three other worthy organizations!
In fact, 100% (not just a portion) of the evening’s proceeds were split among the four non-profit organizations: The presenter, MUSIC LIFEBOAT, GRADES OF GREEN (which inspires and empowers students to protect the environment!), the FENDER MUSIC FOUNDATION (getting instruments into the hands of music education programs across the country), and THE MIDNIGHT MISSION (the century-old Los Angeles-based center that helps the homeless and hopeless to build their lives again and rejoin their community).
So, late on a Sunday afternoon, we set adrift and made our way to the legendary IVAR THEATRE (aptly named as it is on Ivar street) – still alive with its rich history. Built in 1951 as a legitimate play house, the theatre later spent a period of the 1970s as a dark and illicit burlesque house, but has spent most of its odd and eclectic history as a live performance venue – with everyone from Lenny Bruce to Elvis to The Grateful Dead to Tom Waits performing on its stage.
This night’s grand event opened with a dinner and silent auction – held just a few blocks away in the lobby of the L.A. Film School – where guests could bid on rare and unique items, including signed guitars, autographed albums, and even a couple of personalized batons – one used by the infamous LA Philharmonic’s director Gustavo Dudamel (a rock star in the world of symphony, I assure you), and the most noted film composer of our time – John Williams (you know – Jaws, Star Wars, Close Encounters, Raiders…you get the picture)! After the dinner and auction, guests walked the short distance to the Ivar Theatre for the main event – an evening with THE MAN OF THE HOUR – ROCK LEGEND ROBBY KRIEGER, guitarist and songwriter of THE DOORS!
And what an evening it was! Rather than the expected “Robby will play a few songs including…” kind of night – THIS WAS SOMETHING COMPLETELY UNIQUE: ROBBY KRIEGER sat down (in the mock living room that had been assembled on stage) with KLOS DJ and resident music fanatic GARY MOORE and TALKED ABOUT MUSIC. And this wasn’t just your average interview either – Robby spoke intimately with Gary Moore for more than an hour – sharing his stories about his experiences from not only his days with The Doors, but his own journey as he became a musician, and all of the people and musical styles that influenced him along the way. He spoke about his early training as a flamenco guitarist, the creation of the sound that became The Doors while they were writing the songs we all know and love, and many stories about navigating his path to becoming a part of rock and roll history.
To help tell his story, Krieger brought along some vinyl albums to play for us. And not just any vinyl – the records came from Robby’s own personal collection! In fact, Krieger told me prior to going on that he’d recently needed to do some repair work in his home that caused him to vacate for a few days. He’d just gotten everything out that he needed, and realized he had almost forgotten the vinyl albums for this evening’s event – so we were all lucky he remembered at the last minute.
Krieger chose in particular five songs to share with us on this evening – “Play With Fire” by the Rolling Stones (1965), a live recording of “What I’d Say” by Ray Charles (1959), “If I Were A Carpenter” sung by Ramblin Jack Elliot in 1969 (written by Tim Hardin in 1967), “Granadinas” by Dos Flamencos (Jaime Grifo and Nino Marvino – 1960), and the great Ravi Shankar with his “Raga Bhimpalasi” (known best from the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967).
Before we were submerged in each selection, Krieger would speak briefly about the song, talking about how the it had affected him or what he took from the music in order to form his own sound. And when he’d cue the audio team to play the next song – we’d then listen along with the legendary guitarist. Seriously – it was an absolutely surreal experience. And these five songs really anchored what sound Krieger would give to The Doors. It was almost immediately obvious once you put the song into context with the band’s iconic style.
After the selections were over, the audience then was invited to ask questions of Krieger – a truly unique experience for any music fan.
Robby left the stage for a short time, while four members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Jin Shan Dai, Dana Hansen, and Jason Uyeyama on violin and Gloria Lum on cello – in particular – a beautiful vintage cello from the 1870s – AMAZING!) took the stage to also answer a few questions and then performed three movements before bringing Krieger back out for the most unexpected pleasure: Robby Krieger played one piece WITH the quartet – a revised version of The Doors song “Spanish Caravan” – with Robby’s own son WAYLON KRIEGER on vocals! It was perfect. The 69-year-old rock legend hasn’t lost an ounce of talent in the years since his rise to fame – his hands nimbly and beautifully floated over the strings of that flamenco guitar as if time had never passed.
And, at the very end of the evening, Krieger met and posed for photos with the people who donated by buying VIP tickets as they enjoyed an after-show party in the VIP lounge.
The entire event was truly once in a lifetime.
For information on, or to donate to, the beneficiaries, please visit their websites:
SPOTTED IN THE CROWD: Rock Bassist PHIL CHEN (Krieger/Manzarek, Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck); Well-known sitar player KENJI OTA (who studied with Ravi Shankar), Local Philanthropist and Annual Robby Krieger St. Jude’s Benefit organizer SCOTT MEDLOCK; and some very lucky Doors fans!