Mike McCready and friends raise funds for Crohn's research
Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur kicks off a new column about people and their passions with a song.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Most people work better with a little music in the background.
So I'll kick off this new weekly column, about people and their passions, at the Showbox at the Market where Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready hosted his 10th annual fundraiser for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America last Wednesday.
A decade ago, McCready got up in front of a ballroom of people and shared the day-to-day of living with the disease. Awful stuff. Painful. Embarrassing. Constant.
But that bravery has paid off; McCready, 46, has helped raise an estimated $1.5 million for CCFA Northwest, and created a ripple effect that raised awareness and support nationwide.
"Having any kind of shame and having any kind of anger and fear, it's all gone away," McCready said backstage.
The fundraiser has become a rite of spring; the audience is a sea of familiar faces, and the acts are a tight circle of friends (including McCready's UFO cover band Flight to Mars — with Gary Westlake, Tim DiJulio, Mike Musburger, Ty Bailie and bell-bottomed frontman Paul Passereli — and opener, the Chris Friel Orchestra).
Backstage, Heart's lead singer, Ann Wilson, hiding under a wide-brimmed black-leather hat, was a woman of few words. Once she got on the stage, you understood why.
She was saving her voice for ceiling-shattering covers of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" and "Ramble On."
"She is a real rock star," McCready said. Amen.
Ed Ved sighting
Meanwhile, across the street, Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder was tucked into a corner table at Il Bistro.
Vedder was nursing a back injury, he said, so he couldn't perform. But he was happy to sign a guitar that McCready's wife, Ashley O'Connor, had walked across First Avenue, Sharpie in hand. The guitar, signed by all the artists at the show, and then Vedder, was the night's prized raffle item.
Keeping the Seattle music theme going, I popped into the Old Rainier Brewery offices of JetCityStream.com, a Seattle-centered online radio station launched recently by principals Michael Raley and Jay Kelly, self-described "refugees from corporate radio."
"We don't have to come up with some cookie-cutter format to get people to listen for seven minutes at a time," Raley said. "We just want them to be passionate listeners."
The on-air talent sure helps: Longtime Seattle deejays like Marco Collins (KNDD, KEXP), Heidi May (KBSG and KJR) and Shawn Stewart (KMTT), who is the station's program director.
May kicked the station off April 11 with Jimi Hendrix's epic rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" followed by Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
Stewart is building the station's library from scratch, and from the deejays' private collections.
"If it's good music from Seattle," she said, "we want to play it."
That includes new music by unknown local bands. In the three weeks after JetCityStream started, 78 different groups submitted music — one walked into the station's lobby and played on the spot.
Raley relates to the struggle to be heard: "I was in so many bands in the '90s. I was the only guy in Seattle who didn't get signed."
Names in Bold appears every Tuesday. Reach Nicole Brodeur at 206-464-2334 or email@example.com.
About Names in Bold
Every Sunday, I bring you a conversation with a local who is doing something great, or a great who is doing something local: media personalities, big thinkers, visiting artists, colorful characters and doers of all kinds. On Tuesdays, I tell you about my travels through some of the week's social and philanthropic events — not just the ones for the swells, but those for work-a-day folks who care about making this region move and improve.
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