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The Music Maven

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge comes to Walnut Creek this month to perform at Rock the CASA.


Photo by John Tsiavis

Bay Area Music fans are in for a treat on March 3, when Grammy Award–winning artist Melissa Etheridge headlines Rock the CASA—an annual concert organized by ABC-7 news anchor Dan Ashley. Held at the Lesher Center for the Arts, the event benefits Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Contra Costa County, Friends of Camp Concord, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area. Diablo caught up with Etheridge to talk about children’s charities, memorable shows, and some of her favorite things about the East Bay.

Q: How did you get involved with Rock the CASA?
A: I was invited by Dan Ashley, who is a really genuine guy with a terrific event. I have come across many charities and causes, and there isn’t anything better than giving children an opportunity to discover themselves and to find their self-esteem.

Q: You sang “Born to Run” in front of President Obama, Bruce Springsteen, and a black-tie audience at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors. Was that your most surreal gig?
A: [Laughs] The most surreal part of that was looking up and seeing Bruce Springsteen watching me sing “Born to Run.” I just love performing; it doesn’t matter if it’s in a bar for five people or at an event like that. I love the exchange of energy from myself to that person in a crowd.

Q: Do you ever perform for your children?
A: I have four children. … One of my favorite things to do is go to their school to sing songs with their classes. The kids think I’m just a fun mom with a guitar.

Q: You performed in Green Day’s American Idiot musical on Broadway in 2011. What was that experience like?
A: That was supercool. I did that for one week—I replaced Billie Joe [Armstrong, Green Day’s lead singer]. I was scared out of my wits. You would not think I would have fear after being onstage for so many years, but it was terrifying. That experience actually helped me in a lot of ways.

Q: You have performed in the East Bay many times over the years. What do you like most about this area?
A: The East Bay has always been a step ahead of the rest of the country. It’s a very creative, understanding, and diverse place. I love the state of mind and the progressiveness. And you have such great food. The last time I was there, someone took me to a restaurant that is focused on mac and cheese [Homeroom in Oakland]. They had a gluten-free, dairy-free mac and cheese. That’s the kind of incredible stuff you find in the East Bay. I keep threatening to move there.

For Rock the CASA tickets and information, visit rockthecasa.org.

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