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Dead & Co. Raise Record $1.1 Million at Oceana Benefit; Stars Sing the Praises of John Mayer

The Los Feliz hills were alive with Deadheads on Sunday night.

“This is the third year and it’s kind of becoming a thing,” said manager and environmentalist Keith Addis, surveying the annual backyard benefit concert for Oceana, the seawater conservation organization, held at his home in the Los Feliz hills. “Sting was the first. [Don] Henley was the second. They’re all guys who have supported Oceana in the past so they’re pre-enrolled in the cause.”

This year’s talent? Dead & Company, who performed a seven-song set — perhaps the smallest (only 260 guests) and shortest in the band’s legendary history — on Sunday night (July 8) that included such favorites as “Dark Star,” “Shakedown Street” and “Franklin’s Tower.” Among the revelers in the crowd were Shiri Appleby, Kelly Lynch, Eli Roth and Rodger Berman, husband of fashion designer Rachel Zoe.

“Their manager, Bernie Cahill, is a really good friend of mine,” Addis said (the two worked together on the 2006 comedy “Pittsburgh” starring Jeff Goldblum and Ed Begley, Jr. — all in attendance on Sunday night). “Normally, it takes me a couple of months to lock down the talent. This time it was the very first call I made and Bernie said: ‘Sounds like a great idea. Let’s do it.’ To be honest with you, I had no idea how many die-hard Dead fans there are in the world — people have flown in from all over the country for this. And we’ve raised more than $1.1 million tonight, which is an Oceana record.” (Addis, serves as president of the eco-charity’s board of directors when he’s not busy guiding the careers of veteran actors Ted Danson, Sam Waterston, Dylan McDermott and Dean Norris, as well as Goldblum and Begley.)

As it turns out, Addis has been a fan of the Dead for longer than he’s been a Hollywood power player. “I think of the Grateful Dead being a part of the resistance when I first discovered them in the sixties — when we were fighting against the war in Vietnam and marching for civil rights and trying to get rid of Richard Nixon. [Trump] is much more dangerous. I don’t know about smarter. He’s more insidious. He’s an infinitely better showman and that’s why he’s been so successful.”

Addis (pictured below with wife Keri Selig) believes that his charity work is more vital than ever following the resignation of the E.P.A.’s chief. “This guy that’s going to replace Scott Pruitt is worse than Scott Pruitt. He’s a lobbyist from the oil industry — it would be like taking the Chief Marketing Officer from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and making him the C.E.O. of the American Cancer Society,” Addis cracked. “So it’s a challenging time, but every great team has to have a great offense and a great defense and we’re playing defense. And [Oceana is] the best team defense on the planet.”

Keith Addis and Keri Selig pose together at the Oceana Rock Under the Stars 2018 in Los Angeles, California on July 8, 2018.
CREDIT: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

Meanwhile, Addis had only good things to say about the player standing to Grateful Dead founder Bob Weir’s right. “When you think about what guitarist could really do justice to the musicianship of Jerry Garcia, it’s hard to think of anybody other than John Mayer,” he said. “Because he’s at the very height of his power as an incredible world-class guitarist and it’s a great fit. I heard they ran into each other at Capitol Records and discovered their mutual admiration of each other’s work and started working together.” (The full lineup of Dead & Co. includes Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti.)

Longtime environmental activist Ed Begley, Jr., agreed that Mayer is the right fit for Garcia’s shoes. “Big shoes to fill, but it’s perfect that it’s somebody younger and from such a different generation — that’s the right way to do that rather than somebody from Jerry’s era,” he said. “They’re lucky to have him and he’s lucky to be part of that musical legacy, too. I’m a big John Mayer fan,” enthused the actor. “I met him through Don Henley years ago when he was playing some cover of a Don Henley song, and I was blown away that night — I just fell in love with John Mayer. He is a great artist. And it’s so generous of him to come help out Oceana here.”

“What a giant talent he is. He’s spectacular in my humble opinion,” Jeff Goldblum added of Mayer. (Goldblum moonlights as a musician in between movie roles and his jazz band will be releasing a Larry Klein-produced album on Decca Records in a few months.) His review of the show? “Ten Goldblums out of a possible ten Goldblums, which is my highest rating.”

Even Dean Norris, who had never seen the iconic classic-rock band perform (“I was too responsible to just drop everything and do acid and go have an orgy in the woods,” explained the actor), was impressed albeit surprised to see Mayer sharing a stage with the Grateful Dead. “When I heard that I thought it was so weird — but also fantastic,” said Norris. “I wonder: Are they going to do John Mayer songs mixed in? That would be awesome.” (Spoiler alert: They don’t. And didn’t.)

Norris, who famously played a DEA agent on “Breaking Bad,” and will reunite with all his castmates to celebrate the show’s tenth anniversary at Comic-Con, particularly appreciated the party favors. “Somebody handed me this,” Norris said, taking a plastic green canister out of his pants pocket. “Kids, don’t do this at home, but it is legal now. I’ll be smoking later — there’s going to be a lot of smoking.”

See the full set list below:

Dark Star via
Samson & Delilah
Dark Star Jam
Brown Eyed Women
Masterpiece
Franklin’s Tower
Dark Star via
Shakedown Street
Touch of Grey

John Mayer and Bob Weir perform at the Oceana Rock Under the Stars 2018 in Los Angeles, California on July 8, 2018.
CREDIT: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

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