Music legends rock for The Midnight Mission

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The jam session at the conclusion of last year's benefit concert, "From Malibu With Love," with notable performers such as Los Lobos (entire band), Clem Burke (Blondie) and Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi). This year's concert will again benefit The Midnight Mission, which serves the homeless of Los Angeles.

Fundraising concert for the charity organization will be cohosted by Malibu’s Dick Van Dyke and newsman Fritz Coleman.

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

End-of-the-year charity packaged in a great evening of entertainment will take place this Friday with the “From Malibu With Love II” benefit concert, cocktail reception and auction, at the Malibu Performing Arts Center. Proceeds will go toward The Midnight Mission, a homeless shelter organization.

Organized by Norman Harris, proprietor of Norman’s Rare Guitars boutique in the Valley, and Steven Yamin of the Conscience Entertainment Group, Friday’s concert will feature world-class rockers like John Mayall (the godfather of British Blues), Kevin Cronin and Dave Amato of REO Speedwagon and lead guitarist Laurence Juber of Paul McCartney’s Wings.

The Midnight Mission has been operating continuously since 1914 in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles, helping homeless people with meals, lodging, medical care and job placement. Less than 15 percent of their received donations go to administrative costs and funding comes strictly from private donations.

“You know, Malibu is one of the wealthiest Zip codes in the nation, yet you have people sleeping in cardboard boxes 20 miles away,” Harris said. “Seven or eight years ago I started taking my kids down to help with their Santa’s Village and the Mission is just something I’ve continued to help in whatever way I could since then.”

“Whatever way I could” meant tapping the legendary musicians who frequented his rare guitar boutique for their talents in putting together benefit concerts.

“Last spring we put together a concert headed by Richie Sambora (founding guitarist for Bon Jovi), Jackson Browne and Los Lobos to benefit the Mission and it went real well,” Harris said. “I thought we’d do a Christmas concert and toy drive also.”

Contrary to the self-involved, bad-boy image rock inspires, Harris said all the musicians he has enlisted were eager to contribute.

“Richie is a prince,” Harris said. “I had a 13-year-old kid who would come into the store who was a fan of Bon Jovi. One day he was there with his folks and I called Richie and he said, ‘Tell the kid to wait, I’ll be right over.'”

Friday night’s musicians are similarly enthusiastic in their altruism.

Kevin Cronin said, “It’s a love thing. Norman’s been taking my money for over 30 years. But, I’ve written some of my most popular songs on his guitars.”

Cronin started out as a “folk singer in Chicago” and welcomes the chance to play an unplugged set at the concert. “We’ll play an acoustic set, so the audience can hear how we originally wrote these tunes as acoustic folk songs,” he said. “It’s great to donate our time, but we also get to play like we started out. Some people, when they ask you to help, you just go. That’s Norman.”

John Mayall just released a new CD titled “In the Palace of the King,” a tribute album to iconic blues singers like BB King and Freddie King.

“This concert is a great thing to do for charity, but I also get to run into some really great blues and rock players,” Mayall said. “I was happy to help Norman out.”

Mayall is a pioneering British blues singer who watched some of his band mates leave and go off to stratospheric careers, including Eric Clapton who departed his group the Bluesbreakers for Cream, and Mick Fleetwood and John McVie who launched Fleetwood Mac.

“Time doesn’t stand still,” Mayall said. “I’ve worked with some outstanding players.”

At age 74, Mayall has seen a half century of singing the blues. “You have amazing keyboards and computer-generated sounds now,” he said. “But apart from that, the tradition and roots are still there. This is why the blues never go out of style.”

Harris teamed with the Conscience Entertainment Group as a way of reaching a wider audience. Yamin says the group is “just a few months old” and that their efforts are strictly for nonprofit groups.

“Our hearts are in the right place,” Yamin said. “I just read that philanthropic donations are up 400 percent since last year. There seems to be a shift in consciousness to transformational sharing,” which Yamin defines as sharing that “goes beyond your comfort zone.”

“What’s great is that we’re seeing this with younger and younger audiences,” Yamin said.

Younger audiences will be able to bid on classic Fender guitars from Harris’ shop during the silent auction. Gold ticket holders can share some shredding stories with the musicians at a post-concert party catered by Geoffrey’s of Malibu.

And if you miss the concert, the Malibu Performing Arts Center has teamed up with Nokia to record pod casts, Yamin said. “A percentage of the fee goes to MPAC and the bulk to the charity.”

Legendary entertainer Dick Van Dyke and NBC weatherman Fritz Coleman will be cohosting the evening’s entertainment. Tickets are available at: www.malibuperformingartscenter.com or www.ticketweb.com.