The Bridge School Benefit concerts will not take place this year — and maybe ever again, according to founding host Neil Young.
The shows have taken place since 1986, with Young joined by colleagues such as Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Pearl Jam, The Who, Metallica, Brian Wilson, R.E.M., Patti Smith, Arcade Fire, Phish and many others. But in a statement on the Bridge School web site, Young says that, “Although I will continue in fundraising efforts, for personal reasons beginning this year I will no longer be hosting The Bridge School Concert,” he wrote.
“I wish everyone the best as the school heads into the future. My heart is with each and every child we have had the honor to serve and those we will continue to serve, and your parents, siblings, and extended families. Thanks to you all for the honor of serving such a great mission. Thanks to my incredible son Ben Young for being there at my side throughout these many Bridge School years. I love you buddy. The Bridge School would not have been possible without you.”
Inspired by Ben Young, who has cerebral palsy, Young’s ex-wife Pegi Young founded the Bridge School to educate children with severe physical, speech and cognitive impairments.
The concerts have been a major source of fundraising for the school, and in her statement Pegi Young says that, “We want to express our sincere and profound thanks to all of you for your love and support, demonstrated by way of your attendance at 30 years of Bridge School Benefit Concerts. They have been truly memorable events and we have great appreciation for everyone who has been involved beginning, of course, with Neil Young and including all the many artists who have been so generous with their time and talent; the production people who have made it all possible.”
There’s no indication as to whether the Youngs’ 2015 split had anything to do with the cancelation.
Neil Young also bowed out of inducting Pearl Jam into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during April, citing health reasons.
…Meanwhile, Young has announced a release this summer of Hitchhiker, an album he recorded during August of 1976 and shelved, with most of its 10 tracks — including “Pocahontas,” “Powderfinger” and “Human Highway” surfacing on subsequent albums. Two of the songs, “Hawaii” and “Give Me Strength,” have never been released.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.