It’s been a rough couple of years for those of us who live in beautiful Northern California: Ferocious wildfires have frequently ravaged the region, most recently in late October. We are now just a little bit past the first anniversary of what remains the most devastating fire in California history—so-called “Camp Fire,” which swept across parts of north central California in November 2018, killing 86 people, injuring many more, and burning nearly 19,000 structures and hundreds of square miles of forest and other land; the damage estimate has been put at $16.5 billion. The fire virtually destroyed the entire picturesque town of Paradise, east of Chico, leaving almost everyone who lives there homeless. The rebuilding process has moved steadily, but still has a long, long way to go.
Not surprisingly, all sorts of generous souls have come up with different ways to help raise money to aid in the area’s recovery. In fact, in April of this year, we used this space to publicize what was to be a sensational classical guitar benefit concert, dubbed “Recuerdos de Paradise” in the gorgeous, still-standing Paradise Performing Arts Center (PPAC) in late May, featuring the magnificent LAGQ, Adam del Monte, Jack Cimo, and Berto Boyd. Unfortunately, that concert had to be postponed, because the region was still considered a disaster area.
But the great news is that Recuerdos de Paradise is now set for 4–7 p.m. on Sunday November 24 at the PPAC, and it will feature that original stellar lineup: the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ), flamenco specialist Adam del Monte, the versatile classical player Jack Cimo (who is the artistic director for the concert), and Portland, Oregon-based flamenco and classical guitarist Berto Boyd. The Recuerdos concert will actually be the third in a series of November benefit concerts in Paradise. The first, featuring Bill Evans and a roster of top bluegrass musicians, took place on November 7. The second, a dance party called “Paradise R&B,” is scheduled for Saturday November, 16. All of the musicians are donating their services, as are the many volunteers helping stage the events. After minimal expenses, proceeds will go toward the re-building of Norton Buffalo Hall as a performance and multi-use facility in Paradise, and for the ongoing support of the Paradise Performing Arts Center. There’s a large and spirited arts community in that region!
The organizers have also come up with a wonderful way for folks to help out in absentia. They note: “Thousands of fire refugees continue to live in towns near Paradise, working hard to put their lives back together. Many still live in trailers, spare bedrooms, or even tents in the backyard of a friend. These people need a helping hand, and they need hope. We beg of you to please purchase a ticket online that we can donate to a fire refugee to attend one of these concerts, at the concert website: www.californiagiftofmusic.org. So far, contributors around the world have donated over 100 concert tickets to fire refugees, but there are still hundreds of requests for seats that remain unfulfilled.”
The Recuerdos concert is certain to be memorable—a healing experience for folks in the area, and for anyone who makes the worthwhile trip to see an evening of top-flight guitar music, played for a great cause. For more information and to purchase tickets (a very reasonable $40), or to make a donation, click here!
Kudos to all the musicians, and to the tireless organizers and major supporters, including event producer Ken Donnell, founder of the nonprofit California Gift of Music and owner of Donnells Music Land/MiniFlex Mic in Greenville, Calif.; John Wunsch, president of Strings By Mail; Josie W. Litchfield of Kata Marketing; and the aforementioned Jack Cimo.