Benefit for Marty Grebb – May 27, 2015 Canyon Club Agoura, CA
By Andy Goldfinger
This was a show for the ages. A benefit by the greatest organization for championing musicians, the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, and they brought together one of the most prolific and giving groups of individuals on this night. We’ll start with the man this event was for, Marty Grebb, who opened the show with an amazing set. He did not look like a man fighting for his life. He played multiple instruments with incredible deft, alto sax, keyboards & guitar. His band was just incredible with a horn section featuring Jimmy Roberts among others plus Jon Woodhead on guitar, the amazing Gary Malabar on drums (he also played with Leon Russell), and several others coming in and out, including Dennis Tufano, founding member of the Buckinghams along with Marty, and they ripped off a couple Buckinghams songs. Mart’s voice was in fine form.
Next up was Ivan Neville who shared the horn section Marty had out there and ripped off a set that got the place alive with the sounds of Nawlins. With Marty sticking around playing keys and his son and nephew joining him on a couple of songs I am here to tell you there is a torch being passed. I was fairly pessimistic of late as to whether there is a new generation of musicians to take the torch from the likes of these incredible folks, and I do believe we have hope people. Without a doubt Ivan brought the funk, and the family lineage is most certainly being passed on. Ivan played several instruments while wandering the stage and getting the massively packed crowd into grooving frenzy.
Then there was Leon Russell. Man oh man. I had heard things about Leon, and they were not necessarily positive. Well folks, I am here to tell you, go see Leon! He was outstanding. Voice was exceptional, told some great stories, especially about B.B. King and some of their sessions. He then launched into one of his songs that B.B. had recorded. His piano playing was really really good and he kept the band and audience engaged. Then, he was joined on stage by a 15 year old phenom, Ray Goren. Remember I mentioned the torch being passed, good lord. This young man had the crowd mesmerized, playing Red House with Leon and the band. Not only unbelievable chops, but passion and emotion in his playing very rarely seen by someone his age, and just the nicest kid. And his family just as nice. Truly gives me hope for the future of music.
And then the queen. The incomparable, beautiful, unimaginably gifted Bonnie Raitt. What can one say, holy carp. Her voice and her playing was so exceptional, as it always is, but the emotion and love on this night was clearly evident. Bonnie had with her on stage 4 decades of band mates including Frebo and Johnnie Lee Schell, plus her current band of Ricky Fataar (drummer extraordinaire), Hutch Hutchinson (bass), Mike Finnigan (keys). The versions of Angel From Montgomery and Nick of Time were spellbinding, and that is only a couple of the songs in her lengthy set. Her set was full of stories and heartfelt emotion as was everyone’s. Marty Grebb is truly loved by his friends and peers.
Once they become available I will add photos from the supremely talented Rich Saputo.