Rock Hall's 2011 Spring Benefit
Back to the concert fundraiser: After Wanda Jackson left the stage to thunderous applause, Terry Stewart brought out the only two male lead singers to perform that night: former Tears for Fears front man, Curt Smith, and 60s soul stalwart, Chuck Jackson. Both gentlemen performed their respective three song sets admirably, with Smith's "Everybody Wants To Change The World" and Jackson's "Any Day Now" stirring spirited sing-a-longs from the VIP attendees on the main floor But, let's face it: it was ladies night, in every way that counted. When Mavis Staples, another Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Member (with her father and siblings, The Staple Singers), strode next into the spotlight, even Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson rushed to the front of the stage.
The whole point of the Spring Benefit is to raise money for Cleveland public school children's music programs. Stewart and company once again did an outstanding job, raising over $300,000 in addition to what had already been collected, with his mid-concert auction of items ranging from a Mercedes Benz to Wanda Jackson's signed guitar to backstage VIP passes to U2s upcoming summer concert.
The most powerful voice of the evening belonged to Darlene Love. She just killed with soaring renditions of her girl group classics "Da Doo Run Run" and "He's A Rebel." Regarding her now-imprisoned former Svengali, Phil Spector, Love quipped that he had gotten his-come-uppance. "He may have cheated me out of my money. But, here I am- - -and where is he?" "Jail!!"' the audience jeered.
The evening closed with the manic Cyndi Lauper, vocal chords warmed up from all of her impromptu back up singing with Staples and Love, sprinting onstage to a menacing "She-Bop." That night Lauper appropriated Peter Wolf's shuga-buga lateral stage prancing and made it her own. She's quite the dancer. In introducing her band, mostly ex-Stax studio session heavyweights, Cyndi confessed she had Pentecostal church-envy. In recounting her childhood church memories, she sounded as if she was raised Episcopalian. But, what she wanted to be was a member of a testifying holiness congregation. Lauper then brought out Mavis Staples, Darlene Love and surprise guest star (she wasn't on the bill), Ronnie Spector- - -another Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Member (Class of 2007). After harmonizing on a gospel-drenched introduction to "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," Cyndi then led the female Rock Hall of Famers on a towering, triumphant version of the song. Priceless. Women who rock? No doubt.
Hopefully, in March of next year, when Cleveland once again hosts the actual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies, Cyndi will be back in Ohio's largest North Coast city - - -as a member of the Class of 2012.
Written by: Jack Marchbanks