The stars were definitely out Saturday night at Los Angeles’ Club Nokia, as two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Stephen Stills and his wife, Karen, hosted a jam-packed Light Up The Blues concert to benefit Autism Speaks.
The evening marked the Stills’ first stab at hosting duties for such a large event, but the capacity crowd was treated to an amazing array of performers.
And there is no doubt that autism is an issue close to the family’s heart, as Stills’ son Henry suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, which is related to autism.
“As parents of a child on the autism spectrum, we recognize the ongoing challenges of every family impacted by this baffling disorder and wish to be part of a community that seeks solutions, and offers support,” says Kristen and Stephen Stills in a statement. “Light Up The Blues celebrates the many gifts of autistic individuals, while supporting Autism Speaks in their mission to raise awareness and continue to enact their successful advocacy on behalf of all those who navigate through the journey of autism.”
Stills kicked off the festivities with a solo performance of legendary Crosby, Stills & Nash song “Helplessly Hoping” before he was joined on stage with the Eagles’ Don Felder. With Felder donning his Fender Stratocaster and Stills on a Telecaster, the two launched into Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy” and Eagles’ classic “Hotel California.”
Actor Amy Brenneman presented a feature on autism that led to a fiery set from recording artist – and Stephen Stills’ son – Christopher, who welcomed his youngest brother Oliver out to play bongos.
The transition to the next performance was helped along by emcee Jack Black and actor Christina Applegate, who shared that she had known Christopher Stills since they were little kids.
Then, it was time for prolific singer/songwriter Ryan Adams, who approached the mic carrying only his guitar. Adams’ signature old-soul croon was perfect for the gravity of the event, as he poured gobs of heartfelt emotion into “Ashes & Fire” and “Please Do Not Let Me Go,” prompting Black to petition for a position as a backup singer.
Rickie Lee Jones and Lucinda Williams were also on the bill, and they didn’t disappoint, with Jones taking on the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For the Devil” and Williams covering Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth.”
The schedule was also broken up with courageous performances by members of the Miracle Project Fly Singers, a group of teens and young adults with autism and other special needs. Rio Wyles, Lexington Aaron and Nick Guzman all delighted the audience with their performances, particularly Guzman’s version of CSN’s “Almost Cut My Hair.”
Additionally, Black led a live auction of two Strats signed by each performer that went for $16,000 and $17,000, respectively.
The real closer, however, was the achingly sweet harmonies of CSN, as Stills was joined by bandmates David Crosby and Graham Nash to run through a checklist of anthems.
Whether it was “Guinevere,” “Just a Song Before I Go,” “Marrakesh Express,” “Or Wooden Ships,” CSN had the 2,000-seat Club Nokia in awe.
Ending with a VIP social with all actors – including Paul Adelstein, David Marciano and Michael Chilkis – and musicians mingling with guests, Light Up the Blues was surely a rocking way to raise awareness for autism.