On Saturday, the annual Wild Honey benefit will take place at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, raising money for the Autism Think Tank and paying tribute to the Lovin’ Spoonful. We spoke to Wild Honey’s Paul Rock about it all…
L.A. WEEKLY: How, when and why did Wild Honey get started?
PAUL ROCK: In December of 1993, Wild Honey (Andrew Sandoval, David Jenkins and myself) staged a spontaneous, word-of-mouth fan tribute to Brian Wilson in the living room of my rented house in Hancock Park. Wondermints, featuring many members of Brian’s current touring band, and many others participated in this inspiring DIY show. Inspired by the sense of community created by the ’93 event, we moved to the 200-seat Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica and did another Brian Wilson tribute that featured a surprise performances by Brian Wilson and Alex Chilton and benefited Sweet Relief to help ailing musicians. Wowed by Wondermints, Brian ultimately incorporated them into his band in the late 1990s. During our run of shows from 1994 to 2003, we also staged celebrations of the Kinks, Hollies, Everly Brothers, Harry Nilsson, Pete Townshend, Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello for a variety of organizations: Sweet Relief, Liberty Hill Foundation, Grammy in the Schools, USC Cancer Center, and Habitat for Humanity. The Kinks’ event featuring a Dave Davies performance at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in 1995. Formed organically through a shared desire to celebrate our heroes and support worthy causes, the all-volunteer Wild Honey kept going until 2003 and the emotionally devastating death of our friend Greg Dwinnell(celebrated in our 2003 Elvis Costello just before his passing). With families and life in general taking precedent, Wild Honey went on an unplanned hiatus for 10 years.
Since 2013, sparked by a need to help kids like my son Jacob (now 16), mitigate the often violent fallout from their severe autism, Wild Honey reconvened after a hiatus of 10 years to create shows for the Autism Think Tank, including a trilogy of Beatles’ shows, Beach Boys 1967-1977 featuring Al Jardine and the Brian Wilson Band, the Band’s first two records featuring Garth Hudson and Jackson Browne, the Buffalo Springfield with Richie Furay, the Kinks Village Green Preservation Society, and this year’s Lovin’ Spoonful Event, featuring original members John Sebastian, Steve Boone, and Joe Butler.
This show at the Alex — which cause is it benefiting?
As in previous years, the concert will benefit the Autism Think Tank, a nonprofit that brings together a team of top autism specialists, via an Internet medical conference, to tackle the medical/psychological issues faced by kids like my son Jake, a non-verbal autistic boy with extreme digestive distress and self-injury issues. Thanks to medical advice from a member of the Think Tank medical team, Jake’s often debilitating self-injury has been reduced by 95 percent. By giving families access to cutting-edge treatments, the Autism Think Tank provides welcome relief from the suffering that comes with severe autism. Since 2013, the Wild Honey Foundation has raised over $100,000 for the organization, which now operates under the wing of the newly formed Autism Healthcare Collaborative. Here’s a wonderful short video on how the Autism Think Tank works.
Who is performing?
The Lovin’ Spoonful original members: John Sebastian, Steve Boone & Joe Butler, Micky Dolenz, Peter Lewis (Moby Grape), Dave Alvin, Mark Sebastian, Dennis Diken (Smithereens), Susan Cowsill, Marshall Crenshaw, Carnie Wilson & Rob Bonfiglio, Iain Matthews, Claudia Lennear, Thomas Walsh, Eleni Mandell, Bill Lloyd, Don Dixon & Marti Jones, Cindy Lee Berryhill, Carla Olson, John Easdale, Kathy McCarty, Bill Mumy, Skylar Gudasz, Mark Eitzel (American Music Club), Elliot Easton, Nick Guzman, Darian Sahanaja, The Three O’Clock, Dead Rock West, Annette Zilinskas. Wednesday Week,
Why pay tribute to the Lovin’ Spoonful?
First and foremost, I am a lifelong fan of the the band and John Sebastian’s solo work. Despite some acknowledgement of their influential melding of folk, rock, blues, and jug band music (today’s Americana), I have always felt they deserved more awareness and appreciation, especially for their songs beyond the wonderful and often life-changing Summer in CIty and Do You Believe in Magic. Declaring that the Spoonful were the first band he ever saw play live, Dave Alvin (an all the other guests) jumped at the chance to perform, long before the original members of the Spoonful signed on. This will be a celebration and a reminder about a wonderful catalog of music. We will be performing over 35 songs with full instrumentation.
What else does the organization have coming up?
On March 1, the day after the show, Wild Honey will be sponsoring a show of original music by Kathy McCarty, Bill Lloyd, and Thomas Walsh (each out-of-town) guests for the Lovin’ Spoonful show.
In the Spring, we will be resuming benefit house shows in my Eagle Rock backyard mini-amphitheatre: artist TBA, but in the past we have featured original music by Muffs, Tommy Stinson, Al Stewart, Mark Eitzel, Vicki and Debbie Peterson of the Bangles, Melanie, P.F. Sloan, Tommy Keene, Steve Wynn, Peter Holsapple, Chris Stamey, Susan Cowsill, and many others.
The Lovin’ Spoonful: A Celebration of Music takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 29 at the Alex Theatre.