As soon as I walked in the doors at The House of Blues on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, loading in the first of the two Marshall JVM halfstack guitar amps, I knew today was going to be a great day and immediately felt a surge of excitement. Today the organization that I founded, Shred Kids’ Cancerwould hold its main event – its 5th annual Shredfest to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer research. As I heaved the guitar amps in place, grabbed my guitar, tuned and plugged in to start the sound check I could not believe my eyes. Plugged into the other amp on the stage was Grammy Award winning multi-platinum rock and roll hall of famer Slash. From there, the day just kept getting better and better. We had a stage meeting with the nine kid bands who were battling to help fight pediatric cancer, followed by checking on the silent auction set up upstairs and making sure the VIP area for kid cancer patients was all ready to go. After that I met the judges: Zakk Wylde, Shavo Odadjian, DJ Lethal and Frank Zummo in the green room and asked them to follow me to the red carpet and get in to see the show. Finally it was 11:55. Showtime. The National Anthem beautifully sung by my band mate Annie Reznik got every ones attention. I gave a short speech and introduced the talented Leo Howard, star of Disney XD’s show “Kickin It” as our emcee.
You know how in a story the intensity and excitement reaches a certain point it has a certain build up but then slopes downwards? That never happened. It just kept getting better. At some points during Shredfest I wish I was like Mr. Potatohead, so I could just put one eye in the audience to see the whole show and do my work backstage and around the venue at the same time. The show ran smoothly, exactly on schedule. The energy was in the air, and was different than a regular concert, as all these people were together for a reason bigger than themselves. Everyone at the event was contributing to the fight against pediatric cancer, not only through just arriving and buying tickets, but many hours were spent before preparing with bands, as well as involving media, the Rock Stars and over 20 sponsors including Guitar Center and Sunset Sessions. Each one of these areas acted like fingers reaching out and spreading awareness and building energy to unite us all together to help the kids that give our organization its purpose.
We kept the names of our guest performers a secret, so the finale made the show even that much more exciting. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer drummer Matt Sorum of Guns and Roses and Velvet Revolver performed “Kashmir” with some kids (who did not know who was going to join them until they got on stage). Guitar Hero Slash then joined him and myself and two other kids performing “Welcome to The Jungle,” “Slither” and “Paradise City”.
As you can see, getting involved in your community is extremely rewarding and exciting. It not only allows you to feel good about yourself and feel like you are doing something about things that you want to change but it gets people to feel like they are part of a club or a team. I am so grateful that so many people could join me and see the need in pediatric cancer research and help to put that vision into motion and have a good time doing it.