545

Neil Young and the 2010 Bridge School Benefit

Neil Young and the 2010 Bridge School Benefit
Lloyd N. Peterson Jr. By

Sign in to view read count
The Bridge School Benefit has become one of America's most anticipated annual musical events. Promoted by Pegi and Neil Young, to assist children with severe physical impairments and complex communication needs, this year's two day benefit promised to be one of the most remarkable of its 24 year history. With the first reunion of Buffalo Springfield in 42 years, it didn't disappoint.

In 1986, Pegi and Neil sought an education for their son, Ben who was born with cerebral palsy. With no alternatives available, Pegi became the brain child and inspiration of the learning institute now recognized internationally as the Bridge School. The intent of the school is to help children with severe speech and physical impairments and to assist in achieving the highest levels of education possible. The benefit, which takes place at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California, provides 50% of the funding required each school year. Without the artists who volunteer their own time, many of the accomplishments of the school might not be possible.

This year's lineup included Pearl Jam, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Leon Russell, Kris Kristofferson, Jeff Bridges, Modest Mouse, Grizzly Bear, T-Bone Burnett, Emmylou Harris, Neko Case, Marc Ribot, Billy Idol, Jackson Browne, David Lindley, Lucinda Williams, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, Ralph Stanley, Pegi Young, Buffalo Springfield and of course Neil Young.

Notably, The Bridge School has been instrumental in developing augmentative and alternative communication techniques. This provides children who cannot communicate verbally or in written form, the ability to meet critical communicative needs. But what does this all mean?

Imagine being the parent of a child with a disability so severe that being able to express even the slightest human need or emotion is only a remote possibility. A handicap so disabling that acquiring the most basic grade school education is a parent's far off distant dream. How does a family come to terms with the pain and challenges of this type of existence? Intentional or not, a child perceived and treated as an outcast from society.

Is it fair to ask how an all powerful God justifies a child living in such a reality? How is it not possible to question one's own faith, and how many times must a child ask the question, why? But perhaps we are the ill-fated ones, the ones without the kind of loneliness that can bring us closer to our own existence, our own individual place in the universe. Welcome to the Bridge School.

One of the greatest moments over the two days occurred on Saturday when Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder introduced one of the students who was sitting on stage along with the other students and parents, as the "smartest girl he knew." Proudly and with tremendous sensitivity, he explained that Maricor had just received her Bachelor degree from Berkeley this past June. A long rousing standing ovation followed and it was difficult not to shed a tear during this emotional and heartwarming moment. There may be no greater example of the rare compassion that resides in the human spirit, and for a two day period of time, all other trivial matters ceased to exist. If anyone questions the power of music, one only needs to attend this event.

This year's Benefit was also in memory of L.A. Johnson (1947-2010), a movie producer, director, cinematographer, sound editor and importantly, a board member and special friend of the children, parents and staff of The Bridge School. While a film dedicated to Johnson played in the background, Pegi and Neil danced on stage together, alone and in front of the children to the song, "Dancing in the Streets." The love for the children from this unique couple remains truly inspiring.

Johnson would revolutionize the way music was presented on film, beginning with his work on the film, Woodstock. He would follow by working on a number of collaborations with Young, which eventually would turn into a four decade lifetime partnership and friendship. His works include The Last Waltz, Bob Dylan's, Renaldo and Clara, and Joni Mitchell's, Shadows and Light. At the time of his passing, he was in production with Young and Shakey Pictures on the film about Lincvolt, a musical documentary about re-powering the American Dream.

One of the surprises this year came from Pearl Jam's performance on Saturday. The event is entirely acoustic and for some bands, going from electric to acoustic doesn't translate well. But Pearl Jam is an entirely different matter. As rock bands mature and start to take their compositions in a more serious direction, it's not uncommon for the band to lose the X-factor, the sense of urgency and essence that is the greatness and inclusive of the best music in rock. On Saturday, Pearl Jam clearly let it be understood that they are the exception.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Buddy Montgomery Jazz Legacy Project Benefit & Concert Music and the Creative Spirit Buddy Montgomery Jazz Legacy Project Benefit & Concert
by Walter Atkins
Published: October 10, 2016
Read Rita Draper Frazão: A Fine Artist's Representations Of Creative Processes In Music (Part 2) Music and the Creative Spirit Rita Draper Frazão: A Fine Artist's...
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 21, 2016
Read Rita Draper Frazão: A Fine Artist's Representations Of Creative Processes In Music (Part 1) Music and the Creative Spirit Rita Draper Frazão: A Fine Artist's...
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 17, 2016
Read Dr. Basil Peter Toutorsky, Classical Composer & Pianist Music and the Creative Spirit Dr. Basil Peter Toutorsky, Classical Composer & Pianist
by John Wesley Reed Jr.
Published: January 15, 2014
Read Curtis Mayfield: After the Rain Music and the Creative Spirit Curtis Mayfield: After the Rain
by Lloyd N. Peterson Jr.
Published: December 26, 2010
Read Neil Young and the 2010 Bridge School Benefit Music and the Creative Spirit Neil Young and the 2010 Bridge School Benefit
by Lloyd N. Peterson Jr.
Published: November 12, 2010
Read ""Nice Work If You Can Get It" by George and Ira Gershwin" Anatomy of a Standard "Nice Work If You Can Get It" by George and Ira...
by Tish Oney
Published: April 24, 2017
Read "WAR with Malo At Stern Grove" Live Reviews WAR with Malo At Stern Grove
by Walter Atkins
Published: August 27, 2017
Read "Marquis Hill Blacktet at Scullers Jazz Club" Live Reviews Marquis Hill Blacktet at Scullers Jazz Club
by Nat Seelen
Published: September 6, 2017
Read "Steve Reich Celebration:  Repercussion" New York @ Night Steve Reich Celebration: Repercussion
by Peter Jurew
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "Collegiate Jazz at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola" New York Beat Collegiate Jazz at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
by Nick Catalano
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony 2017" In Pictures Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony 2017
by Gregory Savage
Published: August 22, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.