Friday, November 16 , 2018, 7:20 am | Fair 47º


Santa Barbara Will Rock the Concert Across America on Sept. 25

For Mother’s Day, 2000, Beryl Kreisel, Santa Barbara resident and current president of the board of Aha!, flew to Washington, DC, to participate in the Million Mom March—the largest gun violence prevention protest in U.S. history.

There, she ran into another Santa Barbara mother, Marni Cooney, who shared her outrage at the unchecked gun violence problem plaguing our country.

Fast forward 15 years to Oct. 2015, when Kreisel and Cooney met up again to lament how little progress the country—particularly the U.S. Congress—had made on curbing gun violence, especially since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012.

Kreisel flew back to Washington, DC, that month, where she met with Donna Dees, the founder of the Million Mom March.

Dees told Kreisel she had a new idea in mind: what if there was a series of concerts, all held on the same day, where artists and activists could raise their voices together to call for an end to gun violence in America?

And so the Concert Across America was born. Kreisel and Cooney now had a focal point for their gun violence prevention passion and activism.

Kreisel returned to Santa Barbara where she and Cooney immediately pulled together a stellar team of volunteers who have met weekly around her dining room table and who have, in just nine months, pulled together the biggest benefit for gun violence prevention to ever take place in Santa Barbara.

Bill Allen and Tipper Gore mobilized their networks and provided photographic documentation, and Bob Weiss, whose daughter, Veronika, was murdered in front of her sorority house in Isla Vista in June 2014, signed on as honorary event chair.

Sept. 25, 2016, was chosen as the event date because it’s the National Day of Remembrance for Murdered Americans, and because 33,000 of those souls die by guns in this country every year.

Santa Barbara will host one of more than 225 concerts that will take place from coast to coast.

The Santa Barbara show also happens to be one of the largest and definitely one of the most star-studded events in this first-of- its-kind national day of music and community activism, thanks in no small part to the overwhelming response from local musicians.

The Santa Barbara Coalition Against Gun Violence, led by Christina Pizarro, will receive any proceeds from the event, which will support their successful gun buy back program and other gun violence prevention initiatives.

"Community leaders in Santa Barbara have had a long standing commitment towards preventing gun violence and I am proud to have stood with them all these years. I look forward to this concert which will connect Santa Barbara with other communities throughout the nation in raising awareness about Congress' inaction addressing our nation's gun violence epidemic," said Helene Schneider, mayor of the City of Santa Barbara.

Tickets are on sale now at the Arlington Theatre Box Office, (805) 963-4408, or

– Emily Heckman is a local volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.


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