This was one all-star concert with an incredibly insane lineup that provided a life time memory for any live music fan. The show went on for nearly four hours with few breaks in the action. Furthermore, the star-studded event that was inspired by Sam Cooke’s legendary single “A Change Is Gonna Come” raised a large amount of money for an organization which prepares and delivers nutritious meals for people living with severe disabilities.
Iconic designer, John Varvatos and real estate executive, Greg Williamson are credited with producing one incredible evening of Grammy and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Superstars benefiting God’s Love We Deliver, a New York City based non-sectarian organization that providing nutritious, individually-tailored meals to people who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves with the strong belief of “food as medicine.” This marquee event in addition to uniting new and existing supporters of God’s Love We Deliver in their mission to change the lives they serve for the better together through music – the universal language that speaks to all, the event brought awareness to the organization by highlighting its accomplishments over the previous 31 years of its existence and laid the foundation for the organization to continue its beneficial work in the future.
Founded in 1985 when one woman began delivering food on her bicycle to a man dying from AIDS, God’s Love now cooks 6,200 meals each weekday, delivering them to clients living with life-altering illnesses in all five boroughs of New York City, Westchester and Nassau Counties, and Hudson County, New Jersey. All of the services provided are free of charge to the clients, their children and to the senior caregivers, without regard to income. All this without a waiting list. Each meal is individually tailored and prepared by registered dieticians for each client’s specific medical requirements. Incredibly, God’s Love provides all services by employing a small but dedicated professional staff and with the critical assistance of 10,000 volunteers annually.
In addition to hosting four other “Signature” fundraising events throughout the year (Authors In Kind, Midsummer Night Drinks, Golden Heart Awards, and the Race to Deliver) God’s Love can now add a fifth thanks to John Varvatos and Greg Williamson. LOVE ROCKS NYC “A Change Is Gonna Come: Celebrating Songs of Peace, Love and Hope,” the first annual benefit concert for God’s Love We Deliver!
This live concert “celebration” held at the historic Beacon Theatre in NYC brought together an all-star lineup that featured a range of legendary and contemporary Grammy award winners, nominees and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees spanning rock, pop, blues and soul that included Joe Walsh, Mavis Staples, Jackson Browne, Warren Haynes, Michael McDonald, Patty Smyth, John McEnroe, Dr. John, Gary Clark Jr., Bruce Willis, Derek Trucks, Keb’ Mo’, Aaron Neville, Lisa Fischer, Marc Cohn, Anthony Hamilton, Cece Winans, Susan Tedeschi, William Bell, Amy Helm, Blind Boys of Alabama, Jackie Greene, Sam Moore, Catherine Russell, Joan Osborne, Tash Neal, Marcus King, and more.
If the performing artists were not enough, the stellar house band, the heart of the event, included musical director Will Lee (The CBS Orchestra) who put together an equally star studded ensemble, that included Paul Shaffer (The CBS Orchestra) and Jeff Young (best known as a long-time collaborator with Donald Fagen and Steely Dan) on keyboards, Steve Gadd (James Taylor, Eric Clapton) and Shawn Pelton (Saturday Night Live) on drums , Eric Krasno (Soulive, Phil Lesh & Friends), Larry Campbell (Levon Helm, Bob Dylan) in addition to a six-piece horn section and a six-piece choir of vocalists.
If that was not enough, we were also entertained by Emmy, Golden Globe and People’s Choice Award winner, actor/harmonica aficionado Bruce Willis, who opened the show with the blues instrumental “Tenth Avenue Tango” and later joined on songs with the likes of Keb Mo, Joe Walsh, Sam Moore and Warren Haynes. To make this event that more special, it was emceed by award winning comedian/actor, Bill Murry another welcomed addition to this spectacular event.
The event included artists joining on stage for renditions of songs such as Amy Helm and guitarist Jackie Greene performing a powerful rendition of Allen Toussaint’s “Yes We Can Can;” Mavis Staples, who received one of the biggest reactions of the night from the crowd, fronting on “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and an animated rendition of “I’ll Take You There.” One after the other, the artists shined. Blues guitarist Keb Mo providing a beautiful rendition of The Beatles’ “In My Life” and then united with ZZ Top guitarist, Billy Gibbons and London Souls front man, Tash Neal on “The Thrill Is Gone.” Gibbons and Neal went toe-to-toe with Tash holding his own in impressive fashion.
Another highlight of the evening occurred when 10 time Grammy Award winner and legend, Cece Winans took the stage and performed her own “Hey Devil.” The night was filled with so many astonishing performances such as Gov’t Mule guitarist, Warren Haynes performing “Soulshine.” Catherine Russell and Michael McDonald propelling the Beacon crowd into a frenzy with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Marc Cohn’s rendition of Crazy Love/Tupelo Honey was followed by Patty Smyth & John McEnroe’s “Whole Lotta Love” that was out of the box crazy. Then soul legend Sam Moore walked on to the stage and performed renditions of “Ain’t That Good News” and “Soul Man” that featured contributions from Bruce Willis and guitarist, Joe Walsh. Vocalist Lisa Fischer, a Rolling Stones’ favorite, exhilarated the Beacon audience with one of the best performances of “Gimme Shelter.”
While the house band took a short breather, Gary Clark Jr. and his band treated the crowd with his own “The Healing” and “When My Train Pulls In” only to be followed by Jackson Browne with “Running On Empty,” The Blind Boys Of Alabama and Michael McDonald doing a tear-jerking “I Shall Be Released” and musical legend Aaron Neville fronting with the Blind Boys on “People Get Ready” and then a solo rendition of “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
And yet, one sitting in the audience couldn’t take a breath because stepping out from the wings of the crowded stage right was Beacon favorites, Derek Trucks and wife, Susan Tedeschi, no strangers to this stage and performed an emotive take on The Four Tops’ “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever.” Warren Haynes then joined in for “Space Captain” just before Sam Moore and Jackie Greene joined Derek and Susan for “Turn On Your Lovelight”. One can only close their eyes and think we died and went to heaven.
Just when a live music fan thought we have seen it all, Will Lee stepped center stage with Billy Gibbons for a rendition of Allen Toussaint’s “Get Out Of My Life Woman.” Gibbons then dueled with Tash Neal and Eric Krasno on the ZZ Top classic, “La Grange.”
Yet, as we sat there and wondered who was coming out next, stepping up was Joe Walsh with the house band on his own “Life’s Been Good” and then followed with Dr. John and “Such A Night.”
When the finale arrived, just after midnight and almost four hours after its start, with the entire standing sold out crowd, each of the benefit’s performers returned to the stage to close out the evening with a Susan Tedeschi-led “With A Little Help From My Friends,” an appropriate ending to a wonderful fund raising night of music and Songs of Peace, Love and Hope performed by some of the greats of our time.
As we were exiting the Beacon, all one could hear was, “wow, can’t wait for the 2nd Annual Love Rocks NYC.” With such a star studded event filled evening, God’s Love We Deliver has not only proven that Songs of Peace, Love and Hope feeds the soul but also those that need healthy meals.
Keep on the lookout for more Appearing Live Tonight and remember, support live music and enjoy your “NIGHTLIFE.”
House Band Set One: Tenth Avenue Tango (w/ Bruce Willis), Yes We Can Can (w/ Amy Helm & Jackie Greene), Will The Circle Be Unbroken (w/ Mavis Staples & Amy Helm), I’ll Take You There (w/ Mavis Staples), In My Life (w/ Keb Mo), The Thrill Is Gone (w/ Keb Mo, Billy Gibbons & Tash Neal), Night Time Is The Right Time (w/ Anthony Hamilton & Catherine Russell), Hey Devil (w/ Cece Winans), Born Under A Bad Sign (w/ Gary Clark Jr. & William Bell), Soulshine (w/ Warren Haynes), Bring It On Home To Me (w/ Warren Haynes, Marcus King & Bruce Willis), Crazy Love/Tupelo Honey (w/ Marc Cohn), Whole Lotta Love (w/ Patty Smyth & John McEnroe), Ain’t No Mountain High (w/ Michael McDonald & Catherine Russell), Ain’t That Good News (w/ Sam Moore), Soul Man (w/ Sam Moore, Joe Walsh & Bruce Willis), Gimme Shelter (w/ Lisa Fischer)
Gary Clark Jr. Mini-Set: The Healing, When My Train Pulls In
House Band Second Set: Running On Empty (w/ Jackson Browne), I Shall Be Released (w/ Jackson Browne, Michael McDonald & Blind Boys Of Alabama), People Get Ready (w/ Aaron Neville & Blind Boys Of Alabama), A Change Is Gonna Come (w/ Aaron Neville), Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever (w/ Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi), Space Captain (w/ Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi & Warren Haynes), Turn On Your Lovelight (w/ Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Jackie Greene & Sam Moore), Get Out Of My Life Woman > La Grange (w/ Billy Gibbons), Life’s Been Good (w/ Joe Walsh), Such A Night (w/ Dr. John), With A Little Help From My Friends (w/ many of the evening’s performers)
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