Tuesday, October 23 , 2018, 10:06 am | Fog/Mist 62º


Steve Kennedy: Paisley, DeGeneres Team Up for Show to Benefit Montecito Mudslide Victims

Ellen DeGeneres and Brad Paisley Click to view larger
Ellen DeGeneres and Brad Paisley perform Saturday at the Santa Barbara Bowl during a benefit event for the victims of the Montecito mudslides. (Steve Kennedy / Noozhawk photo)

A beautiful night at the Santa Barbara Bowl brought together local celebrities Brad Paisley and Ellen DeGeneres last Saturday for a concert to benefit the victims of the Montecito mudslides. There was a huge demand for tickets to this show, labeled "the 2and Responders," in support of small local businesses that have been affected by the natural disaster.

The show, which was scheduled to start at 7 p.m., kicked off around 7:30 p.m. with Ventura Fire's Pipe and Drums, a group that was formed in honor of Capt. John Duff, who died in the line of duty. In a fitting memorial, the troupe started their procession in the crowd and made their way onto the stage. They played a few tunes to honor those who have passed.

After the firefighters cleared the stage, comedian and television personality DeGeneres made her entrance with a drum kit, acting lost and playing out of time. A good laugh came from the sold-out crowd.

DeGeneres has a charming personality, reminding people that they had gathered to remember and support but also to have a great night. She reminded people that no matter what political views, backgrounds or differences people may have that music brings people together and music heals. She talked about the tragedy and texting with Paisley on the day it happened, saying they had to do something.

She brought out Paisley, and the two made up a funny song, mentioning local restaurants and businesses that need the community support.

Paisley, a country music star and Montecito resident, was out to make sure everyone in attendance was going to get their money's worth. His energy was infectious as he blistered through a solid two-hour show. His guitar prowess was on full display as he featured many of Fender Telecaster's most customized with some sort of paisley-embossed design.

The night featured many memorable highlights. One of the first came as an impromptu funny moment when Paisley took a cellphone from fans in the front row to take a selfie and then started scrolling through the fans' pictures. He found one with prenatal items and outed the couple as pregnant. It was a light moment as Paisley offered baby names for the expecting couple: "Brad if it's a boy and Paisley if it's a girl.”

The clear highlight of the night came when Paisley asked Lauren Cantin, a mudslide survivor and the face of hope and perseverance amid the tragedy, onto the fabled Santa Barbara stage. She was pulled from deep in the mud and lost her father and brother in the disaster.

Cantin commanded the stage as she sang, "As the sky is falling down, I crashed into the stormy town and with that shadow on the ground, I hear my people screaming out now, I see fire, inside the mountains, I see fire burning the trees, I see fire and saw the city burning, feel the heat upon my skin, I see fire burning in the mountainside.” The sell-out crowd, many with tears in their eyes, gave her a thrilling standing ovation.

Cantin has been a truly inspiring person, a credit to her and her mother giving a heroic voice to the healing of the community. After Cantin left the stage, Paisley commented: "She's 15. When I was 15, I was an idiot ... when I was 17, I was an idiot."

Another highlight was a slideshow tribute on the big viewing screens featuring the images and names of the 23 people who passed away with Paisley singing "When I Get Where I am Going." Paisley then brought first responders, family and friends to the stage during the encore.

Paisley has endeared himself to the community, tweeting and instagraming local business locations where he will make "pop up" appearances to buy fans' products, in an effort to raise awareness, spirits and support local businesses recovering from the devastation. His dedicated efforts are helping local bars, restaurants, coffee shops even ice cream stores.

Proceeds from the concert will be distributed through local charities, including The Unity Shoppe, Santa Barbara Shine, the Montecito Family YMCA and the Farmers Market.

Steve Kennedy is a Noozhawk contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.

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