For some people, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass marks the end of the festival season and a return to the daily grind. For those in the know, however, there is still one consistently-epic outdoor musical weekend left before the winter season takes over. The Bridge School Benefit Concert, organized by Neil Young and his wife Pegi, is a showcase of prominent musicians that has held the high-water mark for annual benefits – and festivals in general – over the past two dozen years.
Inspiration for the Bridge School came in 1985, when a group of parents, realizing that there were no schools that met the specific needs of their children, developed a visionary plan for a new school for kids with severe physical and speech impairments. But to actualize their vision, they needed a big chunk of money.
Enter Neil Young. The legendary rocker rounded up a group of his friends and in 1986 put on the first Bridge School Benefit Concert. Acts that first year included Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley and Crosby Stills & Nash. The seed money for the school was raised, and the rest is Bay Area history. The Bridge School has gone from being a small, community school with an innovative approach to education to being an internationally recognized leader in augmentative and alternative communication.
Now in its 24th year, the Bridge School Benefit continues to attract some of the biggest names in music, with this year’s lineup including Buffalo Springfield, Pearl Jam, Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson, Lucinda Williams, Modest Mouse, Grizzly Bear, Elvis Costello and more; all coming together to raise money to keep the Bridge School going strong.
If history is any indication, this year’s benefit will be a star-packed weekend of musical riches. Scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 23 and Sunday, Oct. 24 at Shoreline Amphitheater, the Bridge School Benefit Concert is just the thing needed to wring the last bit of summer out of this year.