I have just witnessed a pretty amazing sight. I saw Ringo and the All-Starr band as I volunteered for what is now called the Sonoma Music Festival, about 6 blocks from where I live. Sonoma is no stranger to celebrities. But...a Beatle, you know? How fab is THAT? AND Todd Rundgren?
Here at Field of Dreams, I was working in VIP Hospitality, which really meant that we greeted people and helped them find their seats— which was not easy as we had no seating charts and the tables were numbered a bit weirdly. Everybody working was a volunteer and we were all locals. I'm including some photos of the setup before the gates opened and during the Pablo Cruise soundcheck (and David Jenkins, their lead singer and guitar player, is a funny guy too, as well as an amazing musician) to give you an idea what it looked like. As the night went on and people kept visiting the bar this seating idea got more and more ludicrous until there was a such a large crowd that we just relied on Security to sort it out if they started a fight or didn't have passes. We also had an auction of 11 autographed Stratocaster Sunburst repro vintage guitars (Ringo doesn't sign anything anymore) at $3,000 each and a couple of posters and a Mexican holiday, plus a chance to join the Doobie Brothers onstage the following night. All proceeds go to local charities. Sonoma is also known for its great food and wine so this was provided by locals too.
It got freezing cold after dark, so cold Ringo almost went home in the middle of the show, but decided to come down to the front and move around a bit instead. Todd and Ringo are very funny together. Though Ringo is clearly the authority figure. Their first altercation came in the introduction when Todd was going on about something at the same time Ringo was talking about it which earned an "I'm TALKING, Toddy!" from Ringo in a very parental tone. (Todd claps his hand over his mouth like OMG I interrupted Ringo! I'm dead!). We all cracked up. All of the musicians were terrific. Todd did "I Saw the Light" (my favorite song, as to me it is about the transformative power of Love), and "Bang the Drum" which everyone knows by now and got people jumping around. Later on Todd performed a beautiful version of "Love is the Answer" which also resonated with Ringo's "Peace & Love" vibe. Todd contributed stunning background vocals and harmonies (and possibly arranged them) on all the other songs, and of course, great guitar. I think he also contributes to the action on the stage as most of the band don't move around very much—though he got some competition from Warren Ham on sax when he got going and Lukather on guitar in some places. There were some Santana songs — only the best of course—due to Greg Rolie being there and quite a few Beatles songs, spanning from their very early days in the 60s to the White Album and through Ringo's solo work.
Ringo looks amazing for his age and has a very calm persona. He wore a red long-tailed Teddy Boy jacket for half the show and then a dark green very slightly glittery one. The backdrop was blue and peaceful with a moon and of course, stars, and matched the blue logo on the drum kit. There were two video screens which were unfortunately not widescreen so you could only see one player at a time. There were lights on us as well, almost like house lights between some numbers, and then spotlights because Ringo wanted to see everybody, which kind of made a party out of it. And he told us we all looked beautiful in the light. It was a really nice thing to say.
I was standing at the back and center aisle of the VIP section tables and probably in the sweetest spot for the sound. It wasn't great for photos and video, but the sound was incredible. The finale was a short two-line chant of "Give Peace a Chance" from everybody and Ringo's special guests such as Edgar winter who just happened to be around; and there were lots of singalongs on tunes like "A Little Help from my Friends," "Octopus' Garden" and "Act Naturally" (hey, Ringo ASKED us to sing)! Everybody was blissed out afterwards. What a wonderful night, thank you, Mr. Starkey, for coming to my home town! Thank you for having Todd in your band! Come back soon.