Tuesday, August 28, 2012
By Tiobe Barron
Following on the heels of Lissie and Ray Fresco, another pair of back-to-back benefit concerts are coming to the Libbey Bowl.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros will perform Sept. 6 for the Ojai Valley Community Nursery School; the next day, the Dave Mason All-Star Jam concert will benefit the Libbey Bowl Foundation.
The second event will feature Ojai resident Dave Mason, formerly of Traffic; Eric Burdon; three-time Grammy-Award winning saxophonist Tom Scott; bass guitarist Stuart Hamm; jazz guitarist Brian Nova and others.
“This is seriously a once-in-a-lifetime event happening right here in Ojai!” says Beth Sutherland, who manages Libbey Bowl.
The concert is part of an all-day effort Sept. 7 to raise money for the Libbey Bowl Foundation, supplementing the efforts of the Malcolm McDowell Celebrity Golf Tournament.
Mike Donohue, executive director of the tournament, says McDowell loves giving back to the community. The tournament will feature 18 celebrities, from professional athletes — including an Olympic gold medalist — to television and film stars, all of whom rotate through the golf course at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa to give attendees time with a variety of celebs.
Donohue stresses the Libbey Bowl Foundation is a worthy charity cause, especially in a city known for its artistic community and love of music. “The goal is making it (Libbey Bowl) like a mini-Santa Barbara Bowl, with a regular concert series,” Donohue says. “It’s a really professional venue. Steve McGillivray, the contractor, did a great job.”
Sutherland explains that the money garnered from the event will go to a production fund, which will be used to secure performers for commercial events at the Bowl. The Libbey Bowl Foundation manages and rents the bowl largely to non-profit groups for a minimal fee.
“There have been well over 15 events at Libbey Bowl since last April, all of which have been non-profit oriented,” explains Sutherland.
If the foundation wished to retain a performer with mass appeal for commercial purposes at the Bowl, it would have to fork over a substantial deposit for each event. The foundation has only been in place for 11 months, with Sutherland retained to manage to Bowl on a part-time basis.
“We started out with absolutely nothing. This is our first year out, and we don’t try to do everything,” says Sutherland. “This is an amazing opportunity to create a production fund, which would allow us to move in a different direction of procuring talent. We are extremely fortunate! This is such a huge gift from Mike Donohue and our friends at Paradise Artists!”
Sutherland says it was Donohue and Bill Monot of Paradise Artists who approached the foundation about the fundraisers.
“He (Monot) is very interested in seeing the Bowl become successful. We’ve developed a rapport, and that’s what it’s all about,” says Sutherland.
Paradise Artists is a talent agency established in 1988 by Monot and Howard Silverman, which has an office in Ojai.
“This is really exciting. Ojai has really become an art enclave, more so than ever, and it seems that process is accelerating,” says Monot. “I’ve been around thousands of venues, and we have the real deal here in Ojai. It (Libbey Bowl) is beautiful, well run, professionally managed now! I think we have a real gem in Beth (Sutherland), we’re lucky to have her! And we have a great board assembled. They’re awesome, putting together the management tools to make sure it’s successful. How could you not want to be a part of that?”
Monot compares Libbey Bowl to The Wolf Trap, a performance arts mecca in Pennsylvania. He claims his efforts are small potatoes next to the “heavy lifting” that was done in raising $4 million to restore Libbey Bowl.
“I would love to put on my beret, walk down and see James Taylor perform at Libbey Bowl,” says Monot. “It’s poignant seeing artists rallying around the bowl, which is central to the community. These are our local heroes! They stepped up to do whatever they need to do to get this venue up and running. We’re that close, and all of them know it. We just need the funds so the board can book and promote a regular concert series.”
Another worthy cause for fundraising efforts, according to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, is the Ojai Valley Community Nursery School. The band known for its hit “Home” is performing a benefit concert the day before the Mason concert, also at Libbey Bowl. OVCNS was established in 1955, and is parent owned and operated. In recent years, it has seen a sharp decline in enrollment, as the economy crippled the pocket books of many.
“We have a parent whose daughter goes to this school, and somehow this parent is affiliated with the band. We’ve been hit by the economy like everyone else, and the band was generous enough to offer (a benefit concert to raise funds for the school),” says Tracy Beisel, director of OVCNS.
Beisel says OVCNS takes a Montessori approach in the classroom, but outside, “We get dirty!” They have an organic garden, parents who teach the kids music with the instruments they bring from home, and an “it takes a village” approach that creates what Beisel refers to as “almost a family bond … It’s so much fun. I’m very lucky to be here,” says Beisel.
Log on to www.libbeybowl.org for tickets to either concert, and for additional details.