Friday, October 7th BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, California was the location for the UNITY: Mini-Big Show. This was the first in a year long celebration of global Mini-Big Shows. These shows create awareness and fundraising for the Desmond Tutu Legacy Project. October 7th is also Desmond Tutu’s birthday. At 85 years old, he wasn’t able to attend the party, but a video was made of the crowd sending birthday wishes to him.
The Bishop Desmond Tutu is a South African social rights activist. Tutu rose to fame in the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. Tutu is a righteous man who believes in basic human rights. He uses his fame and celebrity to stand up for the oppressed. The message on the evening of his birthday was “Love each other”. A highlighter guy of the event is when Quincy Jones talked about loving each other in a time when the world is so messed up. Q was so right. Everyone in the theatre was so moved by what Quincy Jones had to say. Pato Banton as well, sang about love. His message was simply, ”love”.
The doors to the Saban theatre opened at 6:00PM. There was a VIP area set up in one of the rooms at the theatre. Deep Eddy provided an open bar. There was a good vibe. DJ Mike People Mover payed music before the show. Kemo the Blaxican came out and performed a great rap piece that had a live harmonica. Kemo gave an excellent performance. Throughout the night, Kemo would come out and perform. His style is urban. Kemo is known for his Mariachi-style horns. His hip hop is funky and his lyrics are thought provoking. He raps about struggle and freedom.
Up next was the lovely and talented Cynthia Fox from 100.3 FM the Sound. She welcomed everybody to the Saban and introduced the Oakland-based hip-hop organization for peace called NegusWorld. NegusWorld came to the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation with the idea of creating a song inspired by the Archbishop. The result was an original song, Peace3, written by NegusWorld and produced by Edson Sean. The song features Tatu Vision and Stoney Creation.
At around 9:00pm, Angelo from Fishbone led a group of saxophone players through the lobby of the Saban theatre. There were members of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Fishbone and the house band in this group. It was quite a sight to see. Angelo was wearing his trademark plaid suit. He was donning a white English bowler for the evening. If you don’t know who Angelo is, he is the leader of a Los Angeles funk band called Fishbone.
Fishbone came up in the 1990s with hits like “Party at Ground Zero” and “Everyday Sunshine”. Fishbone’s performance on Friday was full of energy. Their brand of Funk is all about getting people dancing. That’s exactly what Angelo managed to do as everyone was on their feet.
Fishbone, along with horn players from Bosstones, played “Do The Housework” and “Enjoy Yourself”. At one point, Angelo did his famous funky walk through the crowd. Angelo borrowed photographer Judy Hansen Pullos’ eye glasses and walked around while playing his baritone saxophone. Frontman from the Bosstones, Dicky Barrett, came out with Fishbone and sang one. It was a real treat. Two of the most famous ska bands, Fishbone and Bosstones playing together!
The incredible line up continued with a performance from reggae singer and superstar Pato Banton. Along with members of the Bosstones, Pato Banton sang, “Celebrate Mandela’s Freedom” and “Brothers & Sisters”. The song “Brothers & Sisters” is also known as “Love is the Greatest Thing” and has a chorus that repeats “Love is the greatest thing”. It was such a great performance by Pato Banton. We were so lucky to get to see this reggae legend perform.
One of the highlights of the evening was when Legendary producer Quincy Jones spoke at the event along with actress Joely Fisher.
Joely spoke about the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation. The Foundation is inspiring a conversation among young people about peace. Quincy Jones spoke about the masters of music associated with the Desmond Tutu Foundation and how it is important that people try to love one another. The entire crowd was inspired by his words. The message resonated at the Saban theatre.
Steve Kalinich is a poet and is known for his collaboration with Beach Boy Brian Wilson. Kalinich’s spoken poem, “America, I Know You” is a classic piece of Americana in the tradition of Woody Guthrie and Henry David Theroux. His performance on Friday was heeding and longing. Steve seemed to be mirroring the feelings of our modern times. It was a powerful reading.
Adam Gaynor and Biso Tutu-Gxashe came out and spoke about the cause of the Desmond Tutu Foundation. Adam Gaynor, known for his sideman guitar work with Matchbox Twenty, spoke with Biso Tutu-Gxashe who is Desmond Tutu’s grandson. They made a call to action for peace within, peace between and peace among everyone. They passed around the hat and mentioned that the Desmond Tutu Foundation relies on donations to spread their message around the world.
The performance that many people came for was Incubus. Incubus comes out of Calabasas, California but is famous around the world. Singer Brandon Boyd is known for inspiring lyrics and passionate performances. Lead guitarist, Mike Einziger and drummer Jose Pasillas create a multi platinum sound that is unmistakably Incubus. They played their hit “Wish You Were Here” and other favorites to the crowds delight. Incubus and Brandon continue to maintain the rock star lifestyle. The crowd was over the moon as the band played. Many people were snap-chatting their experience.
Steve Vai came out next with his band and just blew everybody’s minds. Known as the tenth greatest guitarist in the world, (I’d like to see the nine other guys!) Steve Vai is simply the greatest guitarist and performer I’ve ever seen. First of all, his tone is amazing. The licks are stupendous. Steve Vai can play for hours, song after song, he is eager to show another cool lick. And another cool lick. It just goes on and on. It was mind blowing.
Seve Vai is heavy metal arpeggio virtuoso. He is a Guitar God.
As Friday night turned into Saturday morning, 1960’s songmaster and legend, Donovan, came out and performed with violinist Lili Haydn. Donovan comes from the 1960s folk scene in England. He has an original style that combines jazz with folk, pop and psychedlia. Actress and violinist Lili Haydn played a great set with Donovon. This was a memorable performance. Los Angeles was lucky to have Donovan and Lili preforming at the Saban Theatre.
The main event of the night for those that waited to the end was Spencer Davis. Playing his iconic hit, “Gimme Some Lovin’” What a thrill it was to hear Spencer Davis play “Gimme Some Lovin’”
The Bishop Desmond Tutu’s birthday ended early Saturday morning in Beverly Hills at the Saban Theatre. Many iconic performances capped the evening. The Experience Magazine is looking forward to Desmond Tutu’s birthday in 2017.