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  • Writer's pictureMarian Hubler

2023 Annual Benefit Concert A Show-Stopping Success

Bread & Roses Presents annual benefit concert on Saturday November 18, 2023 at the iconic St. Joseph's Arts Society in San Francisco was a show-stopping success. Our board stepped up in an amazing way. A record number of sponsor tables were sold with close to 500 guests attending. All were enthralled by the memorable night of largely acoustic music with Nathaniel Rateliff headlining, late addition Caroline Rose and multi-instrumentalist Jason Crosby with guitarist-vocalist Elliott Peck opening the show.

A multitude of thanks to Laurie and Jeff Ubben for their sponsorship of the talent and overall vision for the event – our largest fundraiser every year and a pivotal source of support for our ongoing program of healing live music for isolated audiences who most need uplifting. We are so grateful for their continuing support and introducing us to so many incredible artists through the years.

New guests to the venue are always awed by the elegant and sumptuous atmosphere in the restored space -- a former Catholic Church on the Historic Register that has been repurposed into a one-of-a-kind venue for enjoying live music. Everyone appreciated the delicious hors d’oeuvres and libations while performance artist Frank Olivier circulated throughout the great hall delighting attendees with card tricks before the show. Attendees enjoyed being in the elevated environment, an incredible setting for a truly special concert with acoustic-based music from top-flight musicians.

Bread & Roses Executive Director Dave Perron welcomed everyone and introduced Jason Crosby, a sought-after musician, singer and composer who is Bay-area-based and on our Circle of Advisors. In addition to being a remarkably intuitive player, Jason is a collaborator with many well-known artists including Jackson Browne, with whom he toured recently. He opened the show with keyboard and vocals on a stirring version of Leonard Cohen’s song The Anthem, followed by a few songs with singer-guitarist Elliott Peck of Midnight North that featured their beautiful harmonies and closed with a medley of songs Take the Final Step and Not Coming Home for the attentive crowd.

Acoustic singer-songwriter/guitarist Caroline Rose next took the stage having flown up from Mexico City where she had been playing a music festival. She came to the bill in place of The War and Treaty who had to cancel for medical reasons. She played a couple songs from her recent recording The Art of Forgetting then took a risk with the audience trying out a few of her newest songs. Those listening responded warmly to her soaring vocals, authentic lyrics and inspired guitar playing.

Emcee and singing auctioneer Ellen Toscano dazzled the crowd with her enthusiasm during our fund-in-need. She invoked the spirit of our mission by helping everyone to visualize what it is like to be isolated and feel how much music means to our audiences. She spoke of our upcoming 50th anniversary in 2024 and asked all to contribute to Bread & Roses staying vibrant for another fifty years. Special thanks to two board members who stepped up big time, with one donating at the highest $10,000 level and another giving a $5,000 match to boost the $100 level of the fund-in-need which greatly enhanced the momentum.

Playing as a solo artist, Nathaniel Rateliff was then introduced by the Ubbens’ brother-in-law who was one of his biggest fans having come from Colorado for the concert and invoked his “magnetic playing and sweet grace.” Everyone knew we were in for a special treat to hear Nathaniel play his compelling songs and mesmerizing guitar as a solo artist in this intimate hall as he had just played Red Rocks, a 9,000-seat amphitheatre outside of Denver with his band The Night Sweats. One of the top Americana performing artists in the country today, Nathaniel played selections from his new album the future as well as some of his earlier recordings. He also runs his own foundation The Marigold Project to address issues related to economic and racial disparity.

MUCH APPRECIATION to our board, the staff and volunteers for their teamwork ensured that the event ran seamlessly and was a spectacular fundraiser. New to the event this year was a photo booth sponsored by Board Member Alex Wellins and a silent auction featuring a guitar signed by Carlos Santana that was contributed by Board Member Adam Fells. Thanks also to the staff of the Saint Joseph’s Arts Society and all the outside vendors who contributed in various ways from food to sound and lights.

The tremendous support from our sponsors as well as concert attendees is critical to sustaining our mission. The generosity of all our donors supports our ongoing mission of hope and healing through live music for our isolated Bay Area neighbors – close to 500 concerts a year for those who need uplifting most.

Post by Marian Hubler

Slide Show Compiled by Samantha Dueñas with Photos by Peter Merts

Thank You to Jeff & Laurie Ubben and our sponsors for making this event possible!


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