Jim Belushi Entertains Veterans for the Holidays
Los Angeles- I'm sure that you have probably noticed that the start of the Holiday season is upon us. This is a season of the year that sparkles with the sights, sounds and contagious smiles. For 21 years the Veterans' Holiday Celebration organizers, led by Berry Gershenson, ushered in the season for thousands of veterans and active duty military and their families. This wonderful celebration was held on Sunday, December 8, 2013, on the grounds of the Veterans Administration.
Several thousands veterans (4,000 plus) and I came together for a fun filled festive day with delicious food courtesy of Five Star Gourmet Foods, Inc., top notched entertainment and care packages.
The official title of the occassion were 21st Annual Veterans' Holiday Celebration "Honoring America's Heroes" proudly sponsored by Five Star Gourmet Foods Inc., under the marvelous leadership of Chef Tal Shoshen.
Co-host Jamie Beeman and Janine Stange welcomed the early arrivals to the festivities. DJ Joey Garcia provided the soundtracks to entertain everyone until the start of live entertainment.
The Pre-Opening entertainment was provided by Break on Through. As you have guessed by the name, this is a Doors cover band. They did a tremendous job on the selection of tunes covered during their set. I arrived on the location as they were playing "Riders on the Storm" followed by "Road House Blues," "Love Her Madly," "and "Light My Fire." They didn't let up throughout their set. They continued full steamed ahead on "L. A. Women," "Touch Me." They concluded their set with an encore with the tune "Soul Kitchen." Jim Morrison was a frequent visitor to Olivia's Kitchen a popular restaurant back in the day. This diner was located on Ocean Boulevard near Main Street in Santa Monica. This well know establishment closed for good in the 1970's. Jim Morrison immortalized the restaurant with the tune "Soul Kitchen" which was released in 1967. If the band Break on Through is on the bill at a venue near you, go check them out for an enjoyable journey down memory lane with tunes by The Doors.
The entertainment shifted over to the gigantic dining tent for lunch. The crowd and I enjoyed a delicious, hearty lunch prepared by Chef Tal Shoshen and his platoon of volunteers. The lunch consisted of turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables and topped off with some mouthwatering desserts. We were thoroughly entertained by Calabria Foti, Chandler Jae, Isaac Hanna, Hank Garrett and Ron Pearson.
The spotlight reversed back over to the Main Stage for additional top notched entertainment provided superbly by Bella Donna- A Tribute to Stevie Nicks, Shaun Paul Gordon, New Directions Choir and capped off by Jim Belushi & The Sacred Hearts.
Bella Donna with lead vocalist Michele Tyler was spot on during their Tribute to Stevie Nicks. From a distance, people thought that there were listening to Fleetwodd Mac. You could see people calling other family members and friends on their cell phones so that they could listen live to the band as they nailed each tune. Their crowd pleasing set consisted of the hit tunes "Gold Dust Women," "Dreams," "Stop Dragging My Heart Around," "Second Hand News," and "Rhiannon." Let me pause for the cause while you finish singing along with this review.Their memorable set continued with "The Chain," "Stand Back," "Say You Love Me," "Go Your Own Way," Gypsy," "Silver Springs," "Landslide," "Edge of Seventeen," and "Don't Stop." Due to time constraints, the crowd wanted the band to continued playing all evening.
Shaun Paul Gordon kept up the momentum of the occassion with a tight set of pop and country tunes on "We Go Down," "Some Day" from the Steve Earle catalog, "Let Me Go," and "Cahuenga Pass" an area not too far from this Holiday Celebration.
New Directions Choir is an a cappella group who took the crowd down memory lane on the tunes "Up On The Roof," and "Under The Boardwalk." They got a lively reaction from the crowd during the sing-a-long of the fight songs representing all branches of the military- Marines, Air Force, National Guard, Navy, Coast Guard and the Army.
The Veterans' Holiday Celebration co-host Janine Stange wonderfully performed The National Anthem. DJ Joey Garcia engaged the crowd with some old school classic pop, rock, soul and R&B tunes.
The grand finale of the evening featured Jim Belushi & The Sacred Hearts. This is an exciting, energetic band that put the crowd in a frenzy. The band performed with enthusiasm a medley of classic tunes "Sweet Home Chicago," "Hard to Handle," "I'm Ready," "This Is It," "Hey Bartender," and "Born Blind" to name a few. Check out their debut CD 36 x 22 x 36 on the Platinum Records Label. Don't missed Jim Belushi & The Sacred Hearts during one or more of their upcoming gigs.
The Mission Statement for the Veterans' Holiday Celebration "Bringing our community together to honor those men and women of the Armed Forces, who have preserved the gift of freedom, through a day celebrating friendship, food and giving.
The Vision- The Veterans' Holiday Celebration Inc. creates an environment of caring, nurturing, honoring, and love for all Veterans to celebrate their commitment, dedication, and service to our country.
The Veterans' Holiday Celebration is buidling a future where Veterans across the USA will have a place of honor to be embraced, acknowledged, and welcomed by their communities, where food, music, laughter, and fun will be our language from the heart.
The Veterans' Holiday Celebration envision a country where all Veterans are cherished today, regardless of the political climates or public judgements they had to endure during their time of service.
Please visit www.vhcevent.org for more information about this outstanding organization. Check out the Veterans' Holiday Picture Montage while on the site.