As The October 2017 Northern California fires raged in GP’s “hood,” the staff committed itself to a small, but mighty goal: Helping guitarists who had lost their instruments—or their creative mojo—to the devastation. It took us until the six-month anniversary of the tragedy, but, thanks to a fabulous commune of artists, manufacturers, and friends, we launched our “Play It Forward” benefit concert on April 20, 2018 at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa—itself still rebuilding from fire damage to the venue.
Those who served brilliantly during this crazy endeavor include: Eric Barnett (our event co-producer, who also offered up his group Points North as the house band), Anita Wiglesworth and the entire staff of the Luther Burbank Center, Isabelle Garson of Second Octave (who rescued our social promotions), Tien Lawrence, Doug West, and Tim McKee (they donated the backline); Ellen Maremont Silver of Santa Rosa Junior College (who, along with Robyn Bramhall, got an enthusiastic array of students into the theater), David Silva of the Play It Forward Music Foundation (despite the name, his group isn’t affiliated with GP, and yet, they offered instrument donations and helped with promo), Jim Douglas of Prime Time Entertainment (who provided the Roland Jazz Chorus amp for Andy Summers and Mimi Fox), Carlos Santana and Joe Bonamassa (who signed guitars for the charity auction), Danelectro for the ’59XT all of the benefit artists signed, the local radio ticket giveaways (thanks KRCB, KSRO, and KVRV), and Frets editor Jimmy Leslie (who filled in all the blanks on the duty roster).
GP is continuing the signed-guitar auctions for charity (instruments from Steve Vai, Nita Strauss, and Steve Lukather are en route), as well as our free guitar giveaways to those whose instruments were destroyed in the carnage (Fender has already donated ten guitars, and Mitchell Guitars and Danelectro gave us two each). We’ll keep reaching out to our fab manufacturing partners until all 50 people who requested replacement guitars have them in their hands.
Of course, this dream would have stayed a dream if not for the tremendous contributions of all the artists who donated their performances. Not only did these gifted and diverse talents enthrall the audience, every one of them was an awesome hang, a supporter of the cause, and a gracious and lovely human being. The entire night was like being at the best party ever, and with the coolest people imaginable. GP’s enduring thanks goes out to every one of you.