The 555 California Street Tree Lighting Celebration is San Francisco’s premier annual holiday event. In 2017 we are teaming with Culinary Kickoff™ to launch a re-imagined holiday celebration - 555 California Street All Star Holiday Culinary Kickoff! This year’s exciting new event will feature All Star talent teamed with tasting selections from top Bay Area chefs and vintners. In keeping with the 555 California Street Tree Lighting traditions, this year’s event will include exclusive musical performances, a tree lighting countdown and other beloved festivities.
The 555 California Street All Star Holiday Culinary KickoffTM benefits All Stars Helping Kids (ASHK), a Bay Area nonprofit that works to disrupt the cycle of childhood poverty and encourage innovation through seed funding and consulting with other area nonprofits.
ASHK was created in 1989, when NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott gathered his friends for a dinner to benefit the local community. Astounded that he had raised $100,000 in one night, Ronnie invested the money in several nonprofits fighting poverty in the South Bay. Since then, ASHK has used this simple formula of raising money and redistributing it to create opportunities in education, health and life skills for disadvantaged youth.
NFL Champion Ronnie Lott, and his wife Karen have tirelessly dedicated their time to All Stars Helping Kids (ASHK) and the Bay Area community. In the past 25 years, Ronnie and Karen have helped ASHK to provide more than $10 million in grants to over 100 organizations, impacting thousands of young lives throughout the Bay Area and beyond.
Ronnie Lott's legendary football career began in 1981 as a first-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers. Ronnie went on to achieve four Super Bowl titles and ten Pro-Bowl appearances. He is one of only five 49ers to play on all of the team's 1980s Super Bowl wins. Ronnie retired from professional football in 1994 after ten seasons with the 49ers, and additional years with both the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets. In 1994, he was selected as the Safety for the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000, and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Born out of Northern California’s chaotic, late-1960s musical stew, The Doobie Brothers’ rugged, real and authentic approach to rock and roll made them biker bar stalwarts. But their self-titled debut album in ’71 went beyond just leather and motorcycles, revealing even more musical layers; sweet three-part harmonies and rootsy, introspective, acoustic flavors.
The Doobie Brothers’ legacy has been built upon not just hit records, but also an unrivaled commitment to musical integrity and a steadfast allegiance to their enthusiastic fan base. The bands ability to evolve in a constantly changing industry and connections to generations of listening audiences is a testament to their craft.
It all began in 1969, when a drummer named John Hartman arrived in Northern California. He was there to meet Skip Spence from the band Moby Grape and become part of a supposed band reunion that never quite got off the ground. But it wasn’t all for naught. Spence (who had also played in the Jefferson Airplane) introduced Hartman to his friend Tom Johnston, a local singer/songwriter/guitarist -and they connected. Hartman and Johnston began playing local Bay Area bars. They soon met singer/guitarist Pat Simmons, whose finger-style playing richly complimented Johnston’s R&B strumming-style, and the foundation for The Doobie Brothers was set.
While their debut album in 1971 did not chart, just a year a later, their second record, Toulouse Street, became a breakout sensation. Producer Ted Templeman helped the band craft a sound that was organic, yet radio friendly, and brought in Little Feat keyboardist Bill Payne to add unique musical textures.
From there The Doobies hit the road, tirelessly working their way around the world. They established themselves with a breathtaking run of hits on Warner Bros. Records that tapped into a myriad of American styles. “Listen to the Music,” “Jesus is Just Alright,” “China Grove,” “Black Water,” “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” “Long Train Runnin’” and other anthemic singles confirmed their status as fine craftsman who could also rock arenas.
In 1974, Steely Dan co-lead guitarist and session legend Jeff “Skunk” Baxter joined the band as third guitarist, one of many unique and talented players who would revolve in and out of the band over the years. The group’s expanded lineup was augmented in 1975 by Michael McDonald, whose soulful vocals and songwriting led to the hits “What a Fool Believes,” “Minute by Minute,” “Takin’ It To The Streets,” and “You Belong To Me.” Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, John McFee, joined in 1978 bringing his wide range of musical styles and experience recording with Van Morrison, Steve Miller, Elvis Costello, and The Grateful Dead to The Doobies’ sound.
The collaborative, almost communal sense of family within the band allowed them to stay fresh and unpredictable over the years, while never forsaking their deep American musical roots, boogie-jams and all.
After a respite in the early 80s, the band reunited in 1987 for a series of gigs benefiting veterans’ groups and children’s charities (ultimately raising millions). Those shows at the Hollywood Bowl were the fastest sell-outs since the Beatles had played there more than 20 years earlier. In a Los Angeles Times poll the year before, fans voted Led Zeppelin and The Doobie Brothers the bands they wanted most to see reunite.
Continuing to record, The Doobies released World Gone Crazy in 2010, produced by Ted Templeman, and Southbound on Arista Nashville in 2014. Southbound, produced by David Huff, featured new recordings of the band’s iconic hits, with country music’s biggest stars including Blake Shelton, Zac Brown Band, Brad Paisley, and Toby Keith.
The Doobie Brothers were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, have won four GRAMMY® Awards and sold more than 48 million records worldwide (including three multi-platinum, seven platinum, and 14 gold albums). Their 1976 Best of the Doobies has sold more than 12 million copies, earning rare RIAA Diamond status. Their No. 1 gold-certified singles “Black Water” (1974) and “What a Fool Believes” (1979) lead a catalog of hits that includes “Listen to the Music,” “Jesus Is Just All Right,” “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” “Long Train Runnin’,” “China Grove,” “Take Me In Your Arms,” Takin’ It to the Streets,” “Minute by Minute,” “You Belong to Me,” and “The Doctor.” In all, The Doobies have tallied five Top 10 singles and 16 Top 40 hits.
“We’re basically an American band – we cover a lot of areas,” says Johnston. “We cover blues, R&B, country, bluegrass, and rock ‘n’ roll. It’s based on rhythms, rhythm structures, picking, and harmonies. That’s been the signature of the band.” He continues, “You take Pat, who comes from a folk/blues background, with a lot of picking and stuff like that; he was a big fan of Rev. Gary Davis and Dave Van Ronk. I come from a blues, soul, R&B, and rock ‘n’ roll background. Then you stick John McFee into that mix. John came from a country background when he started out and was in the country band Southern Pacific. And he is a session musician – he’s played with everybody from Steve Miller to Van Morrison to Elvis Costello. If it’s got strings, he can play it.”
“We all have the same work ethic,” says multi-instrument virtuoso McFee, self-described as the “new guy.” “Tom, Pat and I are still surging ahead. We’ve stayed together as friends as well as musicians. We are compelled to challenge ourselves. I mean, I love playing the old songs. But when we’re working on new material now, I think we’re coming up with better parts. The band has always been good, so it’s kind of like we’re competing with ourselves. But honestly, we’re playing better than ever.”
Simmons notes, “We didn’t really sit around and think, ‘Oh, we need this element or that element.’ The music has always been an honest representation of whatever we happen to be working on at the time. We had all been playing music for a long time before we put the band together, and our roots influences are what come out. Those influences always overtake whatever conceptual ideas you might have. It’s always been that way with this band — you always return to who you really are.”
The ability of The Doobie Brothers’ music to connect with the essentials of people’s lives in tuneful, affecting songs has developed an audience that spans generations today. Known for their dynamic live performances, the band plays close to 100 shows a year touring worldwide, delighting concert goers of all ages.
Simmons adds, “We have a hardcore fan base that has handed our music down through the years to their children and their children’s children. Repeatedly, people go to our concerts and come up to us and say, ‘My dad turned me on to you guys years ago, and I’ve loved you guys all this time, and my kids are listening to you now.”
“And the songs that people all know, be it ‘Listen to the Music,’ ‘Black Water’ or ‘China Grove,’ are still getting played,” Johnston adds. “Any song that stands the test of time for 40 years or is getting played around the country on a daily basis – that to me is a testament to the quality of the tunes, and that they have something to say that resonates with people. I’d like to say this band has been relevant – it’s been relevant musically, it’s been relevant lyrically, and we’ve always put out a high quality of music.”
They take none of it for granted. And their music has proven to be relatable for generations since they first came together, which is why they continue to make new music. The fundamental appeal that has drawn listeners to this group for four decades may be best expressed by Simmons:
“In a certain sense, what this band has always had in common with everyone else is the word ‘hope.’ We hoped we would make some good music, and we hoped there would be some acceptance, and we hoped that things would get better in the world. In that respect, we’re just the same – we’re still hopeful about the future.”
The mere name of the band gives one hope. And it makes you think, it makes you feel and makes you appreciate the efforts of one of America’s most dependable musical outfits. It takes you back, while also helping you look ahead.
From hustling street performer on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to multi-platinum selling recording artist, it seems like just yesterday that Andy Grammer was discovered by manager Ben Singer and signed to S-Curve Records. With his 2011 self-titled debut album, Grammer became the first male pop star in a decade to reach the Top 10 at Adult Pop Radio on his first two singles, “Keep Your Head Up” and “Fine By Me,” certified Platinum and Gold respectively, selling more than 1.5 million downloads combined.
In just a few short years, Grammer has sold over 250,000 albums, played to sold out venues nationwide, performed onstage with Taylor Swift, Train, and Colbie Caillat, appeared on an array of national TV shows, and received major song placements in film and TV.
In 2014, Grammer released his second album, Magazines or Novels, which included the multi-platinum hit single “Honey, I’m Good.” that sold over 3 million copies and climbed to #1 on the Adult Pop Radio charts. Following a successful year, Grammer joined the Season 21 cast of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.
Platinum recording artist Phillip Phillips released his sophomore album Behind The Light in May. The album includes songs that were either written or co-written by Phillips including the lead single "Raging Fire," an epic and urgent love song that debuted in the Billboard Hot 100 upon its March release and quickly earned raves for Phillips's stirring vocal delivery and thrilling guitar work. Behind The Light is the follow-up to 2012's The World from the Side of the Moon, a platinum plus-selling album that debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 and featured the 5x platinum smash hit "Home." Throughout the last year, the 23-year-old Georgia native has toured the U.S. and the world, joining Matchbox Twenty and John Mayer on tour and sharing a stage with Bruce Springsteen at the 2013 Rock in Rio festival. The American Idol season 11 winner is currently out on a national headline tour in support of his new single "Unpack Your Heart."
Canadian singer/songwriter and breakout pop sensation Carly Rae Jepsen has taken America by storm after bursting onto the scene in the US with her hit single “Call Me Maybe.” Unforgettably catchy, the hit song which she co-wrote quickly rose to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart where it remained for nine consecutive weeks. Certified quintuple-platinum in Jepsen’s native Canada the track is also an international sensation, climbing to No. 1 on the iTunes Singles charts in over 47 countries while the official video has over 400 million YouTube views and the song has sold more than 10 million singles worldwide to date. Follow up platinum single “Good Time,” a duet with Owl City, climbed to No. 3 on the Pop Chart, while the video has racked up over 84 million YouTube views. Jepsen released her debut album Kiss on September 18 via 604 Records/Schoolboy Records/Interscope Records along with her latest single "This Kiss.” Billboard recently named Jepsen its “Rising Star” at the 2012 Billboard Women.
In Music Awards, and she won the 2012 American Music Award for Best New Artist. Jepsen received two 2012 Grammy® nominations for Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year. Carly’s new single, “Tonight I’m Getting Over You” is out now.
Robin Thicke has established himself as one of the most respected singer- songwriters in soul and R&B music today. Born in Los Angeles, Robin Thicke taught himself to play piano at the age of 12 and by 16 was writing and producing songs for top R&B artists. At the age of 21, he had written and produced songs on over 20 gold and platinum albums including Michael Jackson, Marc Anthony, Pink, Christina Aguilera, Usher, Jennifer Hudson and others. One year later he signed with Jimmy Iovine and Interscope records. The musician and composer released his critically acclaimed debut album, A Beautiful World, in 2003 under the name Thicke. The collection was followed by a succession of five critically acclaimed gold and platinum selling album releases. Robin’s sixth studio album, Blurred Lines, was released in July on 2013. The album garnered three GRAMMY nominations. The collection debuted at #1 on Billboard Top 200 while, “Blurred Lines,” the single, continued its 12-week reign on the Billboard Hot 100 chart making Robin the first artist to take the top spot on both lists since December 2012 and only the 17th act to earn the distinction in the past ten years. “Blurred Lines” scored the highest audience ever recorded and broke records by climbing to #1 on 5 radio charts simultaneously (Top 40, Rhythm, Urban, Hot AC & Urban AC) – the first time this has ever been done by an artist. Robin’s seventh studio album, Paula, was released in July 2014.
A local favorite, Dick Bright Orchestra will be playing a variety of holiday songs and big band favorites throughout the tree lighting concert. Dick is a well-recognized entertainment figure seen at many half times, seventh inning stretches, community concerts and fundraisers.
The Pacific Boychoir Academy (PBA) was founded in 1998 with six boys and today comprises over 170 boys and young men ages 4 to 18 in seven choirs. The PBA is known for its rich sound, musicianship, phrasing, and talented soloists. The New York Times said the PBA goes “beyond the reach of most youth choirs” and the Los Angeles Times described the PBA quality of sound and musicianship as "astonishing".