The fourth annual benefit for the Silverlake Conservatory of Music ended with a countdown, and a man named Flea stood patiently in an art-filled tent. As the final numbers trickled in, the Chili Peppers bassist happily scribbled down the winning bid for a Richard Prince painting. It would require a very large check, but the sum was only a fraction of the money raised for the Flea Community Music School founded 13 years ago.

“I just want to teach music to as many kids as possible and provide an artistic education,” he said. rolling stone, noting that the funds will be used for a new building that will double student capacity to more than 1,000. About 200 children currently attend for free. “The arts are as important as athletics and academics. These are the three A’s.

Flea’s co-host for the evening was Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis, who supported his sideman’s mission from the start. “I remember talking to Flea about his plans to do a school 15 or 16 years ago in Australia, and I couldn’t tell if he was serious or having a moment,” Kiedis said. “But he felt the beauty of children studying music. We came back to LA, and he actually got the ball rolling.

The Saturday night of music and celebration was the first not to include a performance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (although all four were in attendance), but Bruno Mars and Rufus Wainwright deftly filled the void. “I went to music school,” the latter told the crowd. “I actually dropped out, but I think it’s important to have a music school to drop out.”

Wainwright performed an eight-song set on a grand piano set under a large oak tree, beginning with “The Art Teacher” and a musical rendition of Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 20”, singing in quietly forlorn and romantic tones. He performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and dedicated “Foolish Love” to the hugely influential former Warner Bros. executive. Records Mo Ostin, who sat among a crowd that also included The Kills’ Alison Mosshart, Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz, Blink-182’s Travis Barker and Danger Mouse.

Besides live music, the adjacent auction tent featured original artwork by Ed Ruscha, Shepard Fairey, Raymond Pettibon, Kim Gordon, Gus Van Sant and many more.

“Everyone who shows up – musicians and from all walks of life – means a lot. They believe in doing something for the kids, which is a selfless act,” Flea said of the support. “I have always aspired for this to be a school that has long outlasted us. So with tonight’s help, it looks like we’ll be able to secure a building to house the school in, which will be ours and ensure the school’s longevity.

Flea’s continued commitment to the school and her evolution into something bigger comes as no surprise to Kiedis. “If you knew Flea’s life story, it was what gave him purpose at a very young age, when he was pretty disenfranchised because his parents were divorced,” Kiedis said. “He had a music teacher in middle school who turned him from an invisible kid to a kid everyone said, ‘Hello, this is Michael the trumpeter.’ I think he really enjoyed it and finding his way in. It’s really true to his heart.

After Wainwright, Mars brought his group of eight men to the temporary stage outside a mansion built by silent film star Harold Lloyd (now owned by billionaire and Democratic fundraiser Ron Burkle). Most of the band members lined up with the singer for a wide-ranging set that not only included the hits “Locked Out of Heaven” and “Treasure,” but also an energetic mix that sampled pop and rock music from the latest decades.

“We’re going to have a wedding now,” Mars said, smiling at his companions, then dove into the warm reggae of Musical Youth’s “Pass the Dutchie”, Outfield’s “Your Love” and “This Is How” by Montell Jordan. We Do It,” which somehow led to Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and a molten guitar solo from Mars himself, followed by Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You.”

Near the end of his set, Mars recounted the lasting impact of seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform a frenetic cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” at Woodstock ’99. Right away, he decided he wanted to share his discovery by showing the heavy chord changes to his fellow students.

It didn’t really work out, he said with a smile. “My teacher kicked me out of my Polynesian music class.”

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