Michael McDonald

Michael & Amy McDonald + Friends at The Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara

At the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, soulful singer-songwriter and producing legend Michael McDonald joined forces with a stellar lineup of artists to fundraise for The Rhythmic Arts Project (“T.R.A.P.”), which helps to educate those with intellectual and developmental disabilities through drums and percussion. Joined by wife Amy (Holland) McDonald, Bill and Tamara Champlin, Ellis Hall, and guest Perla Batalla (known for her work with Leonard Cohen), the evening was an undeniable musical delight borne from a desire to serve from the heart.

Now in his fourth year headlining the fundraiser, McDonald is “glad to be a part of anything that brings people together.” Asked what he feels is so very special about T.R.A.P., he said, “Music and the arts are a big part of all of our lives. So many people [with disabilities] are not included and want to be given a chance to create and share with each other.”

The show opened with a performance by local T.R.A.P. alumni, along with project founder Eddie Tuduri, McDonald’s drummer and close friend. Two visiting T.R.A.P. clinicians, Ed Roscetti and Maria Martinez, performed on drums and percussion. Walking into the gorgeous theatre, the near-capacity crowd was abuzz with anticipation and enthusiastic support and love of the arts. The Champlins played classics, including “Turn Your Love Around” and Grammy-winning “Look Away” before Hall took the stage and electrified the crowd with Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” and a phenomenal interpretation of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

Michael and Amy McDonald gave the feature performance, accompanied by a 10-piece band. Together they shared “We Go On” from Amy’s second album, some of Michael’s favorites, including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “I Keep Forgetting,” and “Minute by Minute,” as well as the Doobie Brothers classics, “Keeps You Running” and “What A Fool Believes.” Bill and Tamara Champlin, Ellis Hall and Gary Falcone joined the McDonalds on stage for “Taking it to the Streets,” and the evening was rounded out with a phenomenal encore of the Marvin Gaye classic, “What’s Going On” with McDonald and Hall each on a keyboard and harmonizing beautifully. The last song was an a cappella rendition of Leonard Cohen’s, “Hallelujah” with McDonald and Batalla on lead vocals, backed by Maitland Ward and Hector Hurtado and with Chris Caswell on keys.

The T.R.A.P. program runs in over 20 countries and all funds raised from the show will help to continue its educational efforts. The core program centers around supporting and empowering an enthusiastic but underserved (and often overlooked) community of intellectually and developmentally challenged people of all ages. The T.R.A.P. program addresses cognitive, emotional and physical disabilities by working on motor skills, communication and self-expression in a creative fun way using rhythm, music and sound.

Keep up with Michael McDonald.

For more about The Rhythmic Arts Project, or to lend your support, find them online.

Players: Michael McDonald (vocals, keyboard); Amy McDonald (vocals); Bill Champlin (vocals, keyboard); Tamara Champlin (vocals); Gary Falcone (vocals); Ellis Hall (vocals, keyboard); Ed Roscetti and Maria Martinez (drums and percussion); Hector Hurtado, Rick Geragi and Willy Omelas (percussion); Bill Bodine, trumpet; Duane Benjamin, trombone; Sam Morgan and Jim Thompson, saxophones; Bob Terry and Maitland Ward, guitars, Lothar Struff, bass; Chris Caswell, keyboards; Eddie Tuduri, Burleigh Drummond and Tris Imbodin, drums


Photos by Rick Carter