Review - Acoustic-4-A-Cure: Sammy Hagar & Bob Weir featuring a 76th Birthday Celebration for Taj Mahal @ The Fillmore (5/15/18)

Sammy Hagar the Red Rocker (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Now in its fifth year, Sammy Hagar’s Acoustic-4-A-Cure benefit concert enjoyed another packed house at the Fillmore last night as Sammy partnered with his Northern California neighbor and Grateful Dead founding member, Bob Weir, to celebrate blues legend, Taj Mahal’s 76th birthday -- all while raising money for the Pediatric Cancer Program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. This year’s line-up included Sammy’s bandmates from Chickenfoot: guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani, former Van Halen bassist, Michael Anthony, and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. Sammy’s Waborita’s guitarist, Vic Johnson also joined the line-up; and Bob Weir brought along Don Was and Ratdog's drummer, Jay Lane. Rounding out the line-up was Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon, and Eddie Money. And of course Taj Mahal took the stage as well.
The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir (Photo: Kevin Keating)
The evening kicked-off promptly at 8pm with a short intro from UCSF's VP of Operations, Kim Scurr, about the work that Jean Nakamura is doing with the Pediatric Cancer Program thanks to the money raised by events like this. A heartfelt thanks gave way to the opening salvo where Sammy and Vic attempted to set the tone for the remainder of the evening with a short set that included "Eagles Fly" before ceding the stage to Bob Weir, Don Was, and Jay Lane. The trio performed Dead classics, "Friend of the Devil" and "Easy Answers," along with Weir's solo piece "Only a River."
Joe Satriani & Kevin Cronin (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Kevin Cronin was up next and used Satriani, Anthony, and Smith as his backing band for the set. While introducing Cronin, Sammy joked how Kevin would be able to brag about having Satriani as his guitarist once he returned to REO Speedwagon next week. And although Chad Smith wasn't able to attend rehearsals the day before, the 'band' sounded great as they played a few REO classics including "Take it on the Run" and "Roll with the Changes."
Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Chickenfoot (Photo: Kevin Keating)
After Kevin's quick set, the backing band stayed put, and Eddie Money was welcomed to the stage along with his son, Dez on guitars, and daughter Jesse, who provided additional backing vocals. Kevin and Sammy both rejoined to help out on vocals too. Maybe it's the cynic in me, but this part of the night felt like a forced promotional pairing considering Eddie's new TV show launched this year alongside Sammy's ongoing 'Rock and Roll Road Trip' on AXS TV. Of all the musicians, Eddie spent the most time chatting with the audience and whose jokes arguably fell flat. Sammy joked at one point referencing Rodney Dangerfield, who Eddie had a striking resemblance to. Luckily, it was a short set with just "Two Tickets to Paradise" and "Baby Hold On."
Eddie Money (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Sammy remained onstage to introduce the headliner of the night, Taj Mahal, and said that when he asked Taj who he'd like to perform with, Taj said that he'd be fine all by himself! Sammy went on to say that when he first moved to San Francisco years ago, he was lucky enough to come across Taj performing at a local venue in the city. He was blown away and said how much of a thrill it's been over the past day or so to see Taj rehearse and to be able to perform with him. Sammy was right of course, as Taj sat center-stage and we soaked in the blues.
Taj Mahal (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Finally, it was time for Chickenfoot -- the 'supergroup' made up of Sammy, Satriani, Michael Anthony, and Chad Smith. The foursome had an absolute blast on stage and joked that it's been nearly 10 years since their first album was released. Everyone seemed to be on the top of their game, with Michael Anthony hamming it up for the crowd, and joking with Chad and Sammy. From the other side of the stage, Joe Satriani was busy giving a clinic on how to play acoustic guitar with your tongue. It was such a thrill to see the entire nights' line-up in such a small venue like the Fillmore, and it was obvious that everyone there was having an absolute blast and enjoying every minute of it.
Joe Satriani and Sammy Hagar of Chickenfoot (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Instead of a true encore, everyone came back out on stage, including the Food Network (and northern California neighbor) Guy Fieri who had baked a cake for Taj Mahal. The ensemble performed the Otis Redding classic, "Sitting at the Dock of the Bay" to close out the night, and then took their time to thank the audience and depart the stage. Sammy's graciously released the HD version of the song which I've included below.
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar (Photo: Kevin Keating)
What a night, and I'm already looking forward to next years' Acoustic-4-A-Cure! If you're so inclined, you can learn more about the important work that the Pediatric Cancer Program does at UCSF and please consider making a donation and/or be sure to get a ticket to the event next year!

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