- Reporters Desk
Melina Paris, Music Columnist
April 27 brought a night of love and beautiful music to The Warner Grand Theatre for San Pedro’s beloved Gale Aikin Pack.
Gale was diagnosed with cancer. Her family, friends and community all came out in a show of great support for her.
The night showcased a benefit concert for Gale. San Pedro’s own, Ambrosia, headlined the event. Special guest Michael McDonald, hometown band One Love, Grammy nominated Stephen Bishop and a young Los Angeles band King Washington also performed. Gale’s daughter, Kaitlyn Pack, accompanied by Brian Asher on cello, opened the evening singing for her mom.
It was plain to see that this was a fun loving, rambunctious and closely-knit gathering. Kaitlyn freely called out to her mom and others saying, “Hey” to everyone and the room responded back with affection. She sang with a soul-filled voice and played guitar on a couple of numbers, both with a bluesy and country feel.
Alternative folk and rock band King Washington came out next treating us to an amazing show of pure rock ’n’ roll at its best. The band is comprised of Tyson Kelly, playing rhythm guitar and vocals, George Krikes playing guitar and vocals, Billy Lee on bass and vocals and Lucas Ventura playing drums.
Playing and singing is King Washington’s thing and the band does it with excellence. The band instantly grabs a hold of this audience with perfectly pitched harmonies and robust guitar chords. The thing about talent is that you know it when you see it. King Washington has it in abundance.The band possess excellent musicianship with precise vocal harmonies, even sometimes sounding haunting. It must be a byproduct of those infectious harmonies lingering in your ear. This band is musically progressive, while capturing a classic, hard rocking sound, a mix of driving chords with tons of rhythm and vocal highs.
Each player stood out. It was clear who was on rhythm and who was on bass. Their chords permeated the room. They take you on a journey with their songs, while their sound is so big it seemed like more than four musicians on stage. On a number toward the end of their set their vocal and guitar harmonies were so in sync, that their voices and guitar notes sounded the same.
One World came up next and this audience was happy to see them, hooting and hollering as they were announced. The eight-piece band led by keyboardist, guitarist and vocalist Frank Unzueta came out with grace. This band has recently reunited. They are happy to be making music together again. It’s visible that they are at home with each other as they display perfection and professionalism in playing, while making your feet move the entire time.
Joe Suzuki on saxophone joined One World for this show. On their number, “Johannesburg,” from their Spirits Beckon You CD he carried the song with a force. Alandras (Oogie) Brown on percussion was lit up, enticing the audience to do a little mamboing of their own.
Their horn section with saxophone, trumpet and trombone was tight. They had chops with Ted Murdock on trumpet holding long high notes and the trombone with a big brass sound.
The headliners were on next. For one of Ambrosia’s opening numbers they played their 1980 hit “You’re the Only Woman that I’m Dreaming Of,” to a delighted crowd singing along with the band. When they performed, “That’s How Much,” the audience started making their way in front of the stage to dance. They spoke of Gale with great love, calling her the first real mother to their band.
“For good parenting all you need is a mother a father and a night with Ambrosia,” a band member said.
The new vocalist for Ambrosia, Ken Stacey, has an amazing voice. He is well known within his industry. He has performed with artist on the same stature of Michael Jackson and Elton John. Singing with heartfelt emotion and able to hold long, powerful, wide-ranging notes. He is seriously blessed with the gift of voice.
The entire room was in starting to get into a love high as good feelings and good music memories circled the room. Before long, Stephen Bishop came out to join them and entertained us with more reminiscences. He played a few of his hits, such as, “Something’s Telling Me it Might Be You,” from the soundtrack to Tootsie and “Separate Lives” from the film White Knights. When he played “On and On,” everybody joined in to sing along with Stephen. On ‘Biggest Part of Me,” Bishop said the song was written for Gale.
It was time for Michael McDonald to join his old friends on stage next. When he came out he very graciously gave Gale tribute. He then opened with, “I Keep Forgettin,” he looks and sounds just the same, as if no time has passed and that was definitely the sentiment in the theater. McDonald performed, “What a Fool Believes,” Wilson Picket’s “Call Me” and followed up with “Takin it to the Streets,” before leading into some Motown hits and The Beatles “Let it Be” to take us the rest of the way through the night. The crowd was up on their feet for the remainder of the show.
Speaking to Michael McDonald briefly afterwards he said this was a very fortuitous event, which was put together in less than one month. Being from San Pedro, where word of mouth is king, it all came together. He said his grandparents were from this town when speaking about the link in the connection to Ambrosia. Ambrosia used to tour with The Doobie Brothers. He said that if he had to, he would have cancelled a show to be here for Gale tonight,
“We go back a long way and are all still good friends”.
It was a joyous evening in dedication to a woman for whom, it was clear, there is deep love.