I just got back from Napa a few days ago where we held the first ever 15 Foundation "It's For The Kids Benefit Concert." What a wonderful weekend! I met so many fantastic fans. We had a great dinner on the lawn at the Villagio in Yountville. It was amazing to look out and see the faces of so many friends.
The Connelly Ranch is one of the charities we partnered with for this event. We were treated to a performance by the kids who participated in a spring break program there; the 15 Foundation sponsored an improvisational music program for them. These precocious 6- and 7-year-olds wrote their own song called "Amazing, Spectacular, Flying Starfish." Later, David Pack of Ambrosia picked up a guitar and serenaded us with some of his hits. My favorite was Make a Wish. I found myself still humming it when I was back at work Monday morning.
Kerry Egan, one of the 15 Foundation board members, and I auctioned off a few items live and in person. Kerry did the auctioneering; I was the spokes model. We made a great team and made more money for the cause to boot. Have to thank the Late Show with David Letterman people and Vanessa Williams of Desperate Housewives as well as the Shandry Family for their generous donations. Thanks to all the bidders too.
Once dessert was served it was time to board the trolley to get to the Lincoln Theater. Our headliner, Leon Russell, had rolled into town in his giant tour bus early that morning. There was a sighting of him on the streets of Yountville earlier that day. I was excited -- I had never seen him perform live before -- and there were some other great performers on the bill too.
After stopping by Leon's bus to say hello, I rushed over to the theater to meet the kids from the Edible School yard, our other charity.They had also participated in a MIMA workshop and they had written and recorded their own song and mad a video. About 10 very enthusiastic middle school students entered the green room. They had each learned to play their parts on instruments they had never studied or played before to perform in the video, which was about to be debuted.
The warm reception that greeted me when I walked on stage was almost overwhelming. I don't know how to convey what it means to have people show up for an event that I have created. It means so much and I so wanted everyone to have a good time. Just as I was about to leave the stage, I thanked the audience for putting up with all the antics of the Howard Stern all these years and got the warmest applause of all. It's amazing how wonderful our fans are.
Speaking of how great the audience was, the opening acts included a local group of musicians called the Pickups and San Francisco media personality Brian Copeland. The Pickups are a group of winery owners who created their own garage band just because they like to play. Turns out, what they play is mostly country. They love what they're doing and you can tell they're having a really good time. Brian, the comedian, who is black, heard the music they were playing and started to freak out. I was summoned back stage. Brian wanted me to introduce him because he felt funny following a country band.
I went out, thanked the Pickups for being there and asked the audience to give them another round of applause. Then I did Brian's introduction. I don't know what he was worried about; he was great and he got lots of laughs. I heard a woman a few rows behind me exclaim, "I love him," during his set.
After a short intermission, Leon Russell and his band took the stage. He was great. He looked like a big, ole rock and roll Santa sitting behind his keyboard in an Hawaiian shirt. He was in fine voice, sang all the hits and his band was tight. He even dedicated a song to me. That made all the hard work worth it.
Thank you to all the people who attended and to all the amazing people who worked behind the scenes to pull the evening together, especially Vida Mulec. She is the only staff member of the 15 foundation. She gives all the orders and then carries them out. She's amazing. And thanks to all of you. I love you.