Sold-Out Benefit at Golden State Theatre Sells Raises $40,000 for Soberanes Fire Relief

Sold-Out Benefit at Golden State Theatre Sells Raises $40,000 for Soberanes Fire Relief

The event, produced by the Henry Miller Memorial Library, featured Sharon Van Etten, Mike Nesmith, Al Jardine, Johnny Rivers, and more

When it became apparent that the Henry Miller Memorial Library could no longer host its annual benefit concert in Big Sur due to the Soberanes Fire, organizers faced a dilemma:

Move the concert somewhere else? Maybe to a bigger venue and making it a benefit for the fire victims? The Golden State Theatre was miraculously available, but could they logistically pull it off—and even more importantly—sell 850 additional tickets—in under a week?

Fortunately the answer was “yes” on all counts.

Within a few days, the ‘new and expanded’ benefit concert, produced by the HMML with help from Library Board members Jesse Goodman and ((folkYEAH’s)) Britt Govea, saw the last-minute participation of Carmel Valley’s Mike Nesmith (of the Monkees), Big Sur’s Al Jardine (of the Beach Boys) and Johnny Rivers, plus Meg Baird and Tara Jane O’Neil.

Fast forward to Friday, August 12th. The concert sold out, and in the process raised approximately $40,000 for the Soberanes Fire Relief Fund. 

“It was amazing…unprecedented, really,” said Henry Miller Memorial Library Executive Director Magnus Toren. “We had a very small window in which to promote the show, and everybody rallied and got the word out in a way I’ve never seen in my 30 years in the concert business.

“I’m also happy to say the show itself resembled all that we love about Big Sur. It was relaxed, yet spontaneous. It was heartfelt and collaborative and just had a great down-home feel to it.”


Highlights included:

* An off-the-cuff rendition of “God Only Knows” by Al Jardine along with Sharon Van Etten and Meg Baird, who agreed to the performance a few hours prior to taking the stage.

* An unnamed volunteer printing out lyrics to “Sloop John B” in the theatre office minutes before showtime.

* Magnus entering the stage donning a chainsaw and a fireman’s jacket.

* Mike Nesmith performing the elliptical and pensive “Rays,” a deep cut from his 1992 album “Tropical Campfires,” before directly addressing the fire into the microphone. (Yes, he was actually talking to the fire.)

* Johnny Rivers hesitating until last minute and then, after deciding to perform, heading to his car and racing back to Big Sur to make sure his house was safe.

“The concert and the run up to it represented the best of Big Sur and Monterey County: local, heartfelt, and positive action. It was also a very emotional event—57 homes have been destroyed—but I think it gave all of us all a much-needed opportunity to take a deep breath and re-connect and even, for some of us, escape some of the sadness and trauma of the past weeks, if only for a couple of hours.”

The Henry Miller Library wishes to thank Sharon Van Etten, Al Jardine, Johnny Rivers, Michael Nesmith, Meg Baird, Tara Jane O’Neil, ((folkYEAH!!)), the Golden State Theatre, Alvarado Street Brewery and Grill and The Monterey Music Store and many more…


Proceeds from the Golden State Benefit will go to the Soberanes Fire Relief Fund, which will continue to provide short and long-term targeted assistance to the Big Sur Community as it recovers. It’s an ongoing process to distribute help where it is most needed and if you have questions please e-mail to the Relief Fund Managers HERE.

Click here for more information on the fund and to donate.

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