Last Friday Eddie Vedder took part in a fundraiser at the Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose, Calif., the night before his gig at Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit show. Vedder’s been known for his activism throughout his career, and that evening he was supporting a non-profit called Heal EB, which raises awareness about Epidermolysis Bullosa, a painful congenital disease that causes blisters after the mildest trauma. For the benefit Vedder sat in with the event band, Big Daddy Sunshine, and provided vocals and guitar on Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream,” the Beatles’ “Come Together” and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Hive had the opportunity to ask Vedder a few questions about that night and the reason’s he’s getting behind EB, as he heads out on a solo tour next week.
Tell me about your experience at the EB fundraiser last weekend.
The EB fundraiser in San Jose was a smaller, grassroots event, but the impact of meeting these incredible kids and their parents was huge. I’ve only been aware of this disease for a few years and not many people are currently aware of it, though it affects one in every 50,000 children. Because of major advances in stem cell research, the non-controversial kind, it appears that a cure could someday be a reality. But only if the good doctors and researchers can acquire further funding, whether privately or through our government.
What did you see in these kids after meeting with them?
I was so moved by the experience. Something I will never forget and carry with me everyday. I feel fortunate to have gotten a better understanding of the challenges these wonderful kids and parents are faced with, and hope that our communities and the global community can band together to provide hope and ultimately an end to this most brutal of diseases.
I read that you played with the event band, Big Daddy Sunshine. How did “Running Down a Dream” and “Come Together” turn out? Could they keep up with you?
As far as the songs that were played…I could hear a background vocal in my head and there was a spare mic … but I made sure to ask first! I always think of Pete Townshend almost killing Abby Hoffman with his guitar when he walked on the stage at Woodstock.
The stage is a sacred place, even in front of fifty people.
Next week kicks off your fall solo tour — any thing new fans can expect? Any new covers, old classics being worked into the sets possibly?
That’s the one advantage of playing alone, you can work out new stuff day of show or during the show for that matter. There’s a sharper turning radius.