Set List Bonus: 2nd Light Up The Blues Concert To Benefit Autism Speaks
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By Erin Hanson
The recently reopened Theatre at Ace Hotel played host to a fantastic show on April 5. The 2nd Light Up The Blues Concert To Benefit Autism Speaks featured an array of artists who, when performing individually, each possessed a commanding stage presence and boasted incredible talent. But when they joined forces, their power was maximized into a transcendent experience.
But the audience wasn't there just for the music. The event informed the night's guests about autism, and all proceeds from the benefit went to Autism Speaks' research and advocacy efforts for families and individuals affected by the disorder. Hosting the event were GRAMMY winner Stephen Stills and his wife, Kristen, whose family has personally been affected by the disorder. Taking place in conjunction with April's National Autism Awareness Month, and just a few days after World Autism Day on April 2, blue lights decorated the theater in solidarity with the cause's official color.
Through this event, Stills aimed to introduce the audience to those affected by autism. "There's a lot more that we can learn from them than them from us," he said. Stills opened the night joined by his youngest son, Oliver, on congas, who played for nearly the full duration of the show.
Autism Speaks President Liz Feld shared that one of her goals for the evening was for people to "recognize the talents of the people that are here, and not just John Mayer, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. We also have several performers here that are on the [autism] spectrum and it's a great way for people to see what the talents and the abilities are of people living with autism."
One of these artists was a member of Xolie Morra & The Strange Kind, who joined Stills' son, Chris Stills, on their song "Garden In The Sky." Morra has Asperger's syndrome, a condition called "autism spectrum disorder."
GRAMMY winner Don Felder played a couple classic Eagles songs, ending his set with the GRAMMY-winning "Hotel California," complete with a guitar solo that perfectly echoed the original recording, and featuring David Crosby and Nash on background vocals.
The highlight of the show was singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile's vocal lead on the Crosby, Stills & Nash chestnut "Long Time Gone," with Stills on guitar. Her vocal power created a contemporary take on the classic song that was still accurately reminiscent of the '60s.
After a memorable set by GRAMMY winner John Mayer, again with Crosby and Nash on background vocals, it was time for Crosby, Stills & Nash to perform some of their most treasured songs. They kicked off with "Carry On," which included the powerful line: "Carry on, love is coming to us all" — which resonated strongly throughout the theater.
The concert wrapped with all of the night's performers returning to the stage for a powerful rendition of CSNY's "Teach Your Children." The sold-out crowd sang along as they crowded the aisles near the stage.
Stills told the audience that the concert wasn't "a thing yet" since it was only the second year. He said, "If we make three, it's a thing." He also claimed to already have next year's lineup ready to go, so fans have that to look forward to.
Until then, you can learn more about Autism Speaks at www.autismspeaks.org.
(Erin Hanson serves as the GRAMMY U Representative for The Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter. She is a live music enthusiast and a proud USC Trojan. Follow her @erin__hanson.)