Every summer, jazz saxophonist Eric Marienthal grabs several of his well-known musician friends and hosts a charity concert at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach for the High Hopes Head Injury Program.
Make that every summer except 2020.
“Last year we had to cancel our plans, as did the entire world,” said Mark Desmond, Director/Instructor and Developer of High Hopes Head Injury Program. “The Eric Marienthal and Friends Concert has played an integral role in raising the funds needed for High Hopes.”
Fortunately, with the pandemic slowing down and Southern California opening up with in person live events, the 22nd annual Eric Marienthal and Friends Concert benefiting High Hopes was able to take place at the Hyatt Regency on Sunday, July 11.
More than 600 supporters and smooth jazz fans attended the concert, which raised more than $100,000 for the organization that is dedicated to helping individuals recover from traumatic brain injuries.
“We are so excited to be back,” said Desmond. “We are so thankful to the Hyatt Regency to be in this beautiful place, as we are the first big event they have had since closing last March 15, 2020.”
The Tulsa Rib Company hosted a pre-concert VIP event where guests they enjoyed a dining experience along with a hosted bar and entertainment by the always-fabulous Ron Kobayashi Trio.
In the main event space, no-hosts bars and complimentary appetizers (quesadillas, cheese and charcuterie, fruit) were available for concertgoers to enjoy.
Grammy and Emmy award winning musician Gordon Goodwin served as Master of Ceremonies along with Desmond for the evening.
Once Eric Marienthal took the stage, he opened the show with “Street Dance” from his 1994 album, then went into “Two in One,” “Lee Ann” as well as his hit “Compared to What.”
Marienthal’s special guest was trumpeter Rick Braun who entertained the crowd with “Cadillac Slim” and “Hollywood and Vine.” The set ended with the crowd on their feet singing along with medley of “Groovin,” “Just My Imagination,” and “Grazin’ In the Grass.”
Marienthal’s all-star band consisted of Andre Berry on bass guitar, Mitch Forman on keyboards, Joel Taylor on drums, Tony Pulizzi on guitar and Ramon Yslas on percussion.
The receptive audience enjoyed experiencing a live performance after so many months away, and the musicians all seemed energized to be performing live again.
Highlights of the live auction included exquisite jewelry, a seven day jazz cruise for two on the Celebrity Summit to Costa Maya/Cozumel in January 2022, sports memorabilia, Broadway Shows and a fully restored 1929 Vintage Radio.
An extensive silent auction and opportunity drawing featured an array of items from sports memorabilia to clothing, jewelry and electronics.
Lee Ann Marienthal, wife of Eric Marienthal was honored for her work with High Hopes by receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. Without her support, the event would not be possible.
Sponsors for the evening included H & H Lee Charitable Foundation, Lincoln Consulting, James & Carolyn Reed, Xerox, 94.7TheWave, Hyatt Regency, Stirling Properties, Ryan Reach, and 88.1FM KJazz
Established in 1975, High Hopes Head Injury Program is a one-of-a-kind non-profit charitable organization dedicated to the rehabilitation and retraining of those who have been devastated by brain injuries. The programs include conditioning classes, therapeutic swimming, nautilus weight training, physical therapy and rehabilitation activities for cognitive and social challenges. Other services include vocational art classes, pre-vocational training, music classes, community activities, independent living classes, occupational therapy and speech therapy.
For more information, visit High Hopes at https://highhopes.ws.