Monday, December 30, 2013

Benefit for Big Sur

        I've often said one of the most beautiful and diverse aspects of this area happens to be the people.  I don't know of a time or place where that could be better understood and observed then at Cibo for the Benefit for Big Sur.  All ages, from all surrounding areas came together for one night, for one cause, for one reason: To be a community, to act as a community, to help a community, because we are all, a community.  

       I didn't arrive on the scene until just before 4:30 pm, already the first band, Andrea's Fault, were doing sound check.   They were here for the community and donating their own time to provide live music... and what music it was.  Just before five the trio kicked off.  Hearing songs from the late Peggy Lee to "The in crowd" they got the mood lifted, going, and the flow of people showing up was  constant. It seemed like every time I sat down, I was up and out the door to help someone unload their car of donations for the six large barrels out front... and by 6:30 they were nearly full.  Friends of Andrea's Fault showed up and joined in.  Starting with drums, upright bass and guitar the first addition was a saxophone.
       Before I knew it there was another addition, and another, and another..  The trio was now six members deep!!  One had a washboard, one had a harmonica, the other a second guitar!  The place was moving, people were already dancing, the vibe was good, the smiles, everywhere.  At this point we knew it was going to be a magical night.  Its was dark when Andrea's Fault left the stage, the bar was thick with people from all over coming together, hugging, laughing, sharing and more smiles.

       Jayson Fann and company took the stage next, and the house by storm!!  Afro Cuban music that got the place shaking and the energy in the building would raise hairs on your arms... Key board, drums, hand drums, percussion... then a bass player was added and another member of the band joined.  It honestly felt like the building was moving, along with more than half the people dancing. The dancers overflowed into the dinning room with people still eating dinner.... we looked back at the tables... no one had a cross look, again...all smiles... unbelievable.  One aspect that I think worked is the percussion from Jayson Fann's music might of reminded some of the Big Sur locals of the Natives from back in the day at the River Inn.  I say this cause all the ones I could recognize were dancing to the beat.  They did such a great job and brought in all ages of attendees. The house was getting packed, donnation barrels overflowing, bar was 5 deep and floor crowded.   We switched gear on the stage for the last time doing a full swap...  Cause it was past ten, and we had 4 bands to go.

     Kicking it into high gear, Ancestree from Santa Cruz popped the roof off and flooded the dance floor and the dinning area with dancers all the way back to the kitchen!!  Their reggae style high energy music was jaw dropping. There was now a mix of younger and older community members at the event, and they were dancing together...absolutely amazing to see, heart warming to watch, and unbelievable to be a part of.   The house was getting down, jumping and dancing to the music.  We knew at this point that this night would not be forgotten.
        Ancestree had such a positive vibe, all of them smiling on stage, giving big ups to the 831 and the Big Sur area...they had the place jamming.  I have never met such nice band members in my life.  They were thanking us for letting them play.  We couldn't tell them enough how blessed WE were to have them here. Absolutely amazing people, amazing vibe and sound, and amazing set on stage... we were in awe. Ancestree left stage a few songs later, and could be seen the rest of the night talking, meeting smiling guests and thanking anyone who went up to them for letting them play.  They came in with grace, gratitude and killer sound, and even off stage they still carried that vibe with each band member off the stage.

        A quick swap, and Dewey and the People's (who came down all the way from SF) took the stage. Don't let these young bucks fool you, they mean business.  Once they fired off their first song,  "Put me Down" (which happens to be one of our favorites), it took a minute for the dancing to start again being that they had their music and talent set to "Stun".
        Half way through the first song, the crowd couldn't stop their bodies from getting down with more reggae rock.  Mid-way through the set Darren, lead singer and guitar player, looks out and says "We're gonna do some blues...".   The air stood still, he looked back at his band, and oh my god, blew the crowd away again. We were in shock...looking at each other going, "are you serious??" then bursting into laughter and hugs.  They brought it back up doing a Sublime cover and had people singing along with them.    Randomly, a local who's name I don't know, walked up on stage with two small drums and a stand...we nervously let it go...he joined in the next song....and KILLED IT!!!  Amazing, just one more of the community here, and showing what a unique community it is.  They played three or four more songs and were met with a huge applause from the crowd.

       Eyes on stage and looking around...we made the announcement "We had another band"...the smiles continued, and so did people coming through the door.  I let the staff at the door know we need to keep the doors closed for this next band...they go loud.
       In what seemed like only a few minutes, Wasted Noise from Salinas took the stage.  It was like shifting into 6th gear and hitting the nitros button...BOOOM, they were off.  People were getting down, whistling and yelling the whole time like a real concert.  There was no slowing down the music, the crowd showed no signs of backing off... it was electrical...absolutely ballistic in there at this point.  Wasted Noise did a great job of keeping the crowd going and going hard themselves.  With a few extra songs towards the end, the crowd was yelling for more when they unplugged.

       We again made the announcement, "We have another band"...the crowd couldn't believe it, and couldn't fathom what we would still have up our sleeves. 
       Taking the last spot near 1am was Valley Soul, a local group of friends who's sound is hard to explain, but imagine, Steely Dan, ELP with some Fleetwood Mack, touch of jazz and rock guitar solos, and triple vocals.  Their unique sound and chill melodies brought the house down perfectly, and kept people on the dace floor. They interchanged instruments and played a few more songs.... just after 1:30 am we had to shut it down with still well over 100 people in the bar.

       The Benefit for Big Sur was special, and in my humble opinion unlike anything Monterey has ever seen.  The outpouring of love and generosity and was beyond what we could of asked for. People were donating left and right, and not small donations either.  $50's and $100's were going in the basket with love, well wishes, tears and stories.  One guest even donated $400 on the spot.  We can't thank everybody enough. We cant name you all, but for those who came, donated, stopped by or donated their time, we love your true colors.   If I had to pick a theme for the night, I think it would simply be,  "Smiles Everywhere".

Aaron McGilloway


Photo's Courtesy of Top Dog Images.

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