Gavin DeGraw ~ January 14, 2017 @ The Granada Theater (part of the Kids Helping Kids Benefit)

For the Kids

They seemed so professional – poised, articulate, and intelligent on stage. Knowing exactly when to pause for effect, adding a bit of drama and a dash of humor to the night’s events. And they were kids. Kids helping kids by throwing a benefit worthy of professionals twice their age and experience.

The night began with young gals and guys lining the entrance to The Granada decked out in formal black ties and black dresses, applauding the patrons who came to support their cause. Kids Helping Kids is a non-profit organization ran by San Marcos High Schools students that aid other kids in need across the world. This is the ninth time the group has organized the annual benefit, and it showed in the execution.

The night was packed with quality music, with singer-song writer Gavin DeGraw headlining the showcase. But of course KHK had to showcase one of their own – a young up-and-coming artist from San Marcos, Jazara. Although the young songstress only performed one song, she set the tone for the night.

Parachute, a band formed in Charlottesville, warmed up the crowd with their infectious pop tunes. With four albums and over 10 years touring under their belt, they really knew how to get the crowd moving. Only a two-piece this evening, they still managed to get a groove on, forcing the crowd to their feet and demanding attention in a fashion that only southern gentlemen know how to do with so much charm.  Simple songs purposely written to impress the ladies did just that as they performed their hits “She is Love” (think of a scene from One Tree Hill – wait that’s DeGraw) and “Can’t Help” (think Maroon 5 inspired). Talented and gracious, Parachute represented what the night was all about as they acknowledged the hard work that went into making the benefit a success.

And like a boss (bossi?), the kids took to the stage again to remind the audience why they were here – to raise money for disadvantaged kids. Again, with poise and intelligence, they broke down what a donation could bring around the world: $5000 – a year’s college tuition, $1000 – a teacher’s salary, $500 – HIV treatment.  Students throughout the Granada held flashing paddles up, waiving towards patrons as they made donations in envelopes provided under each seat. One after another, paddles lit up, making this quite a successful night.

Then came the main event, Gavin DeGraw. The piano man was accompanied by a percussionist and a guitarist on an elegant yet simple stage set. Known for his love songs, DeGraw did not disappoint. “Unlike politics and cars… Love does not go out of style,” DeGraw declared as started into a love set, playing selections from his six albums, the latest of which was just released in September 2016. And he hit the main veins, playing his poignant break though “Not Over You,” his arduous “Follow Through,” the more upbeat “Sweeter,” and his latest very danceable “She Sets the World on Fire” (not in that order). Throughout the set DeGraw was very personable with the crowd, at one time jumping down and going deep into the crowd to take selfies with lucky patrons. He too was grateful for the evening, telling the story of how the song “I Don’t Want to Be” literally got him out of his home town and a life he did not want to lead.

And sometimes that’s what you need – you need a little push, a little help, maybe a lot of community to come together showing gratitude for what they have and compassion for what others do not. And sometimes it takes kids helping kids to remind us.