Fleetwood And Friends Rock For Life
Stars join the benefit for MusiCares and stricken musician

Kelly Burgos

On Friday, September 28 in Agoura Hills, Calif., the Canyon Club felt like a steamy old-time juke joint as an all-star cast of musicians played a heartfelt benefit for the Academy's MusiCares Foundation and musician Pete Bardens, a longtime friend of the night's bandleader Mick Fleetwood.

With a cast including the Fleetwood Mac rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, as well as saxophonist Dave Koz, Ben Harper, legendary British bluesman John Mayall and Sheila E. among others, the musicians and the audience tried valiantly to rock away Barden's ongoing battle with cancer.

When asked what message he wanted the audience to take with them from this experience, Fleetwood answered, "It's important to take a few beats back and see what you feel you can do to have a positive effect. This was a learning process for me, and I tried to put my conviction into it."

In a taped message, celebrity Whoopi Goldberg added, "Without MusiCares, I don't know what musicians would do who fall on difficult times."

The performance proved a testament to the idea that the best way to chase away the blues is with a high energy good time mixed with a dose of reverent and heartfelt emotion.

After opening with the national anthem, Dave Koz kicked off his smooth jazz shoes and joined Fleetwood's band, Blue Whale, for a smokin' blues set that rocked and rolled a sold-out crowd of over 1,000. The act was followed by the guitar-driven fusion of the Steve Adams Band, who was joined onstage by Bardens. Given Bardens' energetic and eloquent performance, it was apparent that his passion and musical mastery have not been diminished by his disease. His daughter, Tallulah Bardens, gave further testimony to his courageous spirit as she lifted an angelic voice in a beautifully captivating tribute to him.

This touching performance was followed by singer/songwriter Ben Harper, who took a seat center stage with his signature acoustic slide to serve up his unique blend of blues, rock and alternative pop, including an earthy rendition of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" as showcased on his recent Live From Mars double album.

When Blue Whale frontman Ron Thompson jump-started the finale with the shout "Are ya ready?" the response was a unified affirmation as the band plugged in and gave the crowd another healthy dose of the blues. This time, Blue Whale was joined by Bardens, McVie, and Mayall, who took the lead on electrifying performances of "Mama, Talk To Your Daughter," "Blues For The Lost Days," and "Early In The Mornin'." The band then headed into a straight-ahead rock piece featuring a tasty Fleetwood solo. Joining the jam were Sheila E. and former Eagle Joe Walsh, who launched into the classic riff that anchors his signature "Rocky Mountain Way."

Even in the midst of this fiery sonic experience, however, the deeper sentiment remained clear. It was about love for Bardens, compassion for fellow music people and support of the MusiCares mission.

Proceeds from the event, which reportedly will top $25,000, will help cover expenses for Bardens' medical treatment and will provide additional funds for MusiCares' Emergency Financial Assistance Program.

The MusiCares Foundation, established in 1989 by the Recording Academy, ensures that music people have a place to turn in times of financial, personal or medical crisis. Its primary purpose is to focus the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues which directly impact the health and welfare of the music community.

October 3, 2001

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Last Updated - 13 July 2002

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