Paul Wellman

There was a powerful and much-needed sense of community catharsis on Sunday night at the Santa Barbara Bowl, where hometown hero Jack Johnson, a UCSB grad and part-time Montecito resident, and his many friends played a four-hour concert to raise money for ongoing mudslide recovery efforts. Much like an Isla Vista family reunion in the crowd, the evening began with a tight set from fellow Gaucho alums ALO, followed by a mellow keys-and-lap-guitar show from Ben Harper, who rightfully declared later, “Action is always better than inaction.”

Johnson then introduced Montecito man of action Abe Powell, who gave a poignant speech about the Thomas Fire and ensuing flood, remarking that many lost homes, but that others “lost their people.” Then Johnson started with “Times Like These,” imbued with deeper meaning this time, as were songs like “Good People” and “Better Together.” The sing-alongs on hits like “Bubble Toes” and “Girl I Wanna Lay You Down” were more fierce than ever, as was crowd participation in the songs that Kenny Loggins, David Crosby, Harper, and other friends delivered.

There was lot of love for first responders, the S.B. Bucket Brigade, and everyone else who’s helped throughout the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow — and since all of the tickets sold added to the hundreds of thousands raised, those of us in the crowd were helping too. And that felt good.


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