Tommy Castro and the Painkillers Tommy Castro and the Painkillers

Blues for a cause

All-star lineup to raise funds for Khepera House music therapy program

By Kelly McCartney 09/12/2013


On Saturday, Sept. 14, Ventura can get its blues on in a charitable way. That night, The Tavern hosts the Key to the Highway Blues Benefit with proceeds going to establish a music therapy class at Khepera House, a local nonprofit rehab and recovery program. On the top of the bill are Tommy Castro and the Painkillers with support from the KTTHBB All-Stars featuring Guy Martin (guitar/vocals), Ashford Gordon (guitar/vocals), Ray Jaurique (guitar/vocals), Brian Batchley (blues harp/vocals), Michael Golden (drums) and Evan Grosswirth (bass). Tommy Marsh and Bad Dog will open the show.

The benefit's organizers, Ashford Gordon and Lillian Schwartz, hope to raise $5,000 in order to fund the inaugural year of the 12-week music therapy program. Any amount above and beyond that sum will be paid forward to the new Khepera House detox center, which is being established at a recently purchased Ventura Avenue property.

As Gordon explained, “The music therapy program is designed to take a small group of no more than five or six per class over a 12-week course through an introduction to guitar — including basic chord structure, simple harmony and strumming technique — building through each week on this foundation with group review of the previous week’s practice work for each participant with the instructor.”

Gordon developed the program in collaboration with Mick Baer, executive director of Khepera House. “We felt that giving clients in recovery one hour a week in which the mind is engaged in a simple discipline that yields demonstrable results could be beneficial.”

The goal, Gordon said, is to have a tried-and-true, cost-effective model that might attract corporate sponsorship from Guitar Center or another funding entity for subsequent years of operation. Seed money for the Sept. 14 event came courtesy of Honda of Thousand Oaks and Dr. Bolt Chiropractic.

Even if an outside group throws some coins in the music therapy program's hat, Gordon and Schwartz hope — and plan — to make the Key to the Highway Blues Benefit an annual event. If the Khepera House program is fully funded, proceeds will be earmarked for other community initiatives in need of financial support.

Blues lovers take note: The California Beer Festival is also stepping up to the plate by offering a free ticket to its Sept. 22 blues concert with each ticket purchased for the Key to the Highway Blues Benefit.

Key to the Highway Blues Benefit, Sept. 14 at The Tavern, 211 E. Santa Clara St., Ventura. Tickets for are available at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/368700. General admission tickets are $20 in advance, $25 day of show. VIP passes to sit in the first three rows and enjoy bar service are $30. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

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