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  • Marian Hubler

Fall Sweetwater Benefit Tops the Charts for Music with Chops and Heart

“What a fantastic night of music,” said Bread & Roses Executive Director Dave Perron. “All of this year’s fall benefit performers – Ron Artis II & The Truth, David Luning with Ben Dubin and Megan Slankard -- have played for our isolated institutional audiences so our November 14 fundraiser was a very special show with great heart and dedication to our mission.”


The evening began with a festive VIP reception with delicious bites provided by Chef Gordon Drysdale and his team at The Sweetwater in Mill Valley. Dave welcomed the crowd and introduced Musical Host Megan Slankard who kicked off the night with a couple original songs You’ve Got This and On a High Note. She wowed the crowd right away with her astonishing vocal range and irreverent sense of humor.


David Luning hit the ground running by playing his songs Glorious Thing and These Are My Friends getting the audience to echo the refrain “We are buddies ‘til the end.” Rhythmic sidekick Ben Dubin’s harmonica playing on Hello Danger also wowed the crowd. David rounded out his strong, charming and funny set playing It Ain’t Easy to Love Me But You Do, Everyday I Am, Give Me Back My Keys, Bed of Roses and Ain’t Life A Beautiful Thing. He ended with “It is an awesome honor and privilege to be a part of Bread & Roses. The shows we have played have been some of our favorites.”

Ron Artis II & The Truth, known for “Putting The Truth Back Into Funk,” took the stage by storm playing from heart and soul with Every Morning and I Would Give You Everything to Bring You Back Down to Earth. Ron’s incredible electric guitar playing with soaring solos a la Jimi Hendrix immediately elevated everyone along with the skillful chops by brother Stevon Artis on drums and Ernie Ecraela, Jr. on bass.

The concert continued to lift off with Bring It On, Silent Whispers, What Kind of People, Give You All My Heart, How Can It Be (The World Is Tearing At Me). Ron and Ben had fun trading solos on guitar and harmonica to the crowd’s amazement ending on an extended jam on The More We Give The More We Have. Rounding out his set with the hauntingly beautiful and lyrical acoustic song Broken, “We're all a bit broken, let your light shine through the cracks” and ending with the poignant ballad Before You Go “Before you go, I want you to know that we love you…”


He left the crowd with an invitation to take the good feeling from the music and pass it on to a random stranger. He repeated this message to a rapt audience of adults in recovery at New Bridge Foundation in Berkeley on Sunday night where he talked about all being torchbearers, "you all get a torch to bear when you go through heavy stuff, the knowledge, the strength and the scars you get from that are gonna let you help pull somebody else through it."

A short and spirited live auction led to Paul O’Kane winning a Gibson Les Paul Studio Tribute Guitar, along with Anne and Tony Campodonico who took home the “Magic Carpet Ride” with a handmade tribal Persian carpet donated by Jason Rezaian as well as a magic show by performance artist Frank Olivier.

Thanks to Board Member Steve Meckfessel who sponsored Ron Artis II & The Truth to be our headliners. We are also deeply appreciative of all the board who attended and helped in various ways including Board Co-chairs John Botti and Catherine Less, along with members Gene Barnes, Adam Fells, Raj Gopal, Donna Mezias, Terry Noyer, Philip Pillsbury III and Alex Wellins.

“This is the best night of all the benefit concerts I have experienced with Bread & Roses,“ said Circle of Advisors Co-chair Tucky Pogue, a supporter since 2006. Other advisors who attended include Dan Nowell, Lane Murchison and Matt McWright.


A big thank you to all our sponsors: Hall of Famers Heather and John Botti, Jennifer Maxwell, the Marin Community Foundation, the Nancy P. and Richard K. Robbins Family Foundation; Rockstars Forever Strong Fund, Shaina Kerrigan and Mark Jones, Steve Meckfessel, Terry Noyer and Kathy Behrens Wilsey, Andrea Greenberg and Alex Wellins; Headliners The Hale Family, Catherine Less, Nasdaq, Philip Pillsbury III, Tucky & John Pogue; Media: The Marin Independent Journal’s Giving Marin.


In-kind donors who contributed to the night’s success include Francis Ford Coppola, David Duysen, Gibson Brands, Inc., Gregg Gordon, GIGART, Kokomo Winery, Frank Olivier and Jason Rezaian.


We look forward to seeing you all on Friday May 1 for our annual Spring Benefit Concert in San Francisco. Save the date and stay tuned for our amazing talent line-up to be announced soon!

Photos by Peter Merts.

Photo Captions:

1) Slideshow of guests and performers at Nov 14 Concert.

2) Musical Host Megan Slankard kicks off the entertainment.

3) (l) David Luning on guitar opens the concert with (r) Ben Dubin on standup bass.

4) Clip of David Luning's "Ain't Life a Beautiful Thing." Video by Marian Hubler.

5) Clip of Ron Artis II & The Truth performing "Every Morning." Video by Marian Hubler.

6) Ron Artis II & The Truth light up the stage, with Ron on electric guitar, his brother Stevon Artis on drums and Ernie Ecraela, Jr. on bass.

7) Ron Artis II shares kind words with the men in recovery at New Bridge Foundation. Video by Carolyn Gauthier.

8) Paul O’Kane posing with his new Gibson Guitar with (l) Heidi James and (r) Carrie Sownie. Photo by Staci Hartman.

9) “Magic Carpet Ride” auction package winners Anne and Tony Campodonico.

10) Event Sponsors Board Member Steve Meckfessel, with wife Isabella.

11) Board Co-Chair John Botti with Ron Artis II.

12) (l-r) Frank Olivier, Tucky Pogue, Francesca Lee, Megan Slankard, and Anne Campodonico.

13) Rockstar Sponsors Shaina Kerrigan and Mark Jones.

14) Hall of Fame Sponsor Jennifer Maxwell poses with event shirt designed by Gregg Gordon, courtesy of Moonalice Posters and printed by David Duysen.

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