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Joe Walsh's virtual Vets Aid benefit, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Friday, December 11, 2020

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Joe Walsh has found a pandemic silver lining for his VetsAid concert.

While he can't have the event live this year, it will be bigger and perhaps even better in the virtual realm, with a bigger lineup and a global audience to check out the music and help fund the variety of grass roots military veterans aid organizations that the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer champions each year.

Walsh, 73, started VetsAid in 2017 and raised nearly $1.5 million during the first three years. The virtual concert airing at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, via vetsaid.veeps.com will feature footage from those shows as well as new performances from Jon Bon Jovi, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Willie Nelson, Metallica's James Hetfield, Alice Cooper, Eagles bandmate Vince Gill and many more. Drew Carey again co-hosts, and Walsh promises a good, and meaningful, time will be had by all.

Walsh says by phone that he had "grandiose plans" for this year's VetsAid and did not want to let the event go by the wayside because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "We didn't want to not do it, and the only option is virtual. I don't really know how to do that but we're learning, and I reached out to all kinds of people to (perform). You always ask everybody and hope that a couple of them will do it. To my amazement, about 30 people said 'sure' and these are big guns! So it's gonna work. The message to the vets is that you're not forgotten, and people really do care."

Walsh whose father was killed in service during 1949 in Japan, when Walsh was 2 years old looks forward to fans seeing the different kinds of performances his volunteers are making for the streamcast. "I mean, Willie Nelson and his sons sitting on a couch wow! It's great. Kenny Chesney sitting on his couch, he did an amazing song with his acoustic (guitar). And James Hetfield out of nowhere, Metallica with an acoustic. Who knew? He's great. So there's a different side of everybody that you'll be able to see no production, no nothing, just 'Hey, here's a song.' I love that. It's analog, not digital."

Away from VetsAid, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has been hosting "Joe Walsh's Old Fashioned Radio Show" on Saturdays for the Saddleback College and California State University-Northridge NPR affiliate near where he lives. "It's independent ... not run by men with ties. The DJs pick the music. It's what radio should be. I just said, 'Well, for COVID, can I get a radio show?' and they said sure. And I'm loving it picking the music, telling stories, playing stuff I either played on or know about, just my favorite stuff from the vinyl days. I don't know if I'll keep doing it once the vaccine is out and we can go back to (touring), but I really love it now."

On the musical tip, Walsh has been collaboration with artists in Australia and India, and he's also written a new song, "S--- Happens," inspired by the pandemic. "That's the only way I can explain what we're doing now, y'know? All you can say about COVID is, 's--- happens.' I've got it about 85 percent done, and I think Im gonna go ahead and put it up on the Internet and say, 'Here,' no big release party or anything. It'll be Joe Walsh's Christmas song."

Walsh adds that he's used his quarantine time for some introspection. "I've had a lot of down time, so I've gotten to know myself more. I know who the rock star is, but I've never had this much time just with myself. It's time to look at everything and see if we can come out of this better. That's what I've been doing. It was uncomfortable at first, but I've really gotten to know myself and, hey, y'know I'm a pretty good guy! So I've got that going for me."

Vets Aid, hosted by Joe Walsh and Drew Carey and featuring performances by Jon Bon Jovi, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Willie Nelson, Metallica's James Hetfield, Alice Cooper and many more, streams at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, via vetsaid.veeps.com. Tickets start at $20; vetsaid.org for more details and updates.

Web Site: www.vetsaid.veeps.com

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