by Tammy Asaki – Huntington Beach, CA

I had the pleasure of attending the Artists in Aid Benefit on Friday. It was held at Edgar Varela Fine Arts Junglerush gallery in Los Angeles, which was a very cool venue for this event. There was a cozy outdoor patio where people could hang out on couches and chat and smoke under red paper lanterns and moonlight. Upstairs was the loft where the bands played surrounded by pieces of art from artist, Tommy Mose Abbot. An open bar and free wine tasting provided for a lively atmosphere.

The Growlers were on first. I don’t know much about this band but they were good and the crowd enjoyed them.

All photos by Tammy Asaki

All photos by Tammy Asaki

Rademacher was supposed to be there but had to cancel, unfortunately. Harley, from Red Cortez, said something about them being in Fresno, and unable to attend. I was sad about that.

Red Cortez was on next. I love, love, love this band! Calvin, the guitar player was not there. He was either in Canada, the Dominican Republic or, as Harley joked, maybe in rehab. Instead, Shoichi Bagley, the guitarist from The Weather Underground (the band that evolved into Red Cortez) was there. Andrea Babinski from Dusty Rhodes and the River Band played the violin with RC during their set. There was also a horn player and someone playing the accordion but – not sure who they were. They sounded great and added a cool dimension to the band’s sound. Standout moments for me were “El Barco” and their cover of the Damned’s “Alone Again Or”.

AIABenefit_RedCortez1

AIABenefit_RedCortez2

Red Cortez coaxed Matt Vasquez, from Delta Spirit to come up for a few songs. He was fantastic. I Love the quality of his voice.

AIABenefit_MattVasquez

Lastly, Mikel, from The Airborne Toxic Event, stepped up to the microphone. It was incredibly special to be able to see him in such an intimate setting. We were all up close and surrounding him in a semi circle as he stood and serenaded us (yeah, that’s how I remember it). It was a beautiful moment for us Airborne fans having him there singing brand new songs for us. I loved a new song (written the day before, he said) called “The Graveyard Near Your House. “ Mikel was brilliant as always.

AIABenefit_Mikel1

AIABenefit_Mikel2

All in all, it was an exceptionally cool night. It felt like a spontaneous gathering of musician friends who were just having fun, playing music and hanging out. It was thrilling to feel like a part of that. I loved being able to talk to Mikel and Harley and Ryan in such a laid back environment. Best of all it was amazing to learn that these musical idols of mine have a true social conscience and are compelled to donate their time and energy to worthy causes.

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