We know at Amplify how cool our jobs can be, but what really dialed up the “Cool Factor” for me was when we were involved with the Chicago Cubs Charities and the annual Hot Stove Cool Music fundraising concert in Chicago. As a lifelong Cubs fan, being part of an event like this is amazing in itself. But if that wasn’t cool enough, Amplify was able to secure the legendary Buddy Guy as the special surprise guest performer. I had worked with Buddy for almost 20 years while at Fender and he is truly a national treasure. Furthermore, performing with Buddy was Yankee great Bernie Williams, who is an amazing guitarist in his own right, and Peter Gammons, a Hall of Fame award-winning baseball writer and a co-Founder of The Foundation To Be Named Later.
The Foundation To Be Named Later, and its affiliation with Cubs Charities, is the brainchild of twin brothers Paul and Cubs president Theo Epstein who, after decades of drought, brought World Series championships to both the Cubs and the Boston Red Sox. Theo is an avid guitarist as well, so music is a key part of the Foundation’s fundraising initiatives.
As stated on the Foundation website, “the acts were diverse in age, genre and geography but not diverse when it comes to the mission and purpose – do as much good for others as possible while celebrating music and baseball.”
Thanks to support from Fender, Amplify was also able to secure a custom Stratocaster made out of highly figured natural Ash wood from the area around Cooperstown, home of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Ash is a primary wood in both the manufacturing of guitars and baseball bats, but is becoming endangered due to an invasive species of boring beetle. This guitar is not available to the public and matches the one we have in our current exhibit at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles entitled “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”
Allyce Najimy, CEO and Executive Director of The Foundation to Be Named Later, showing the custom guitar on stage during the auction
The guitar was autographed by none other than Buddy Guy himself, and auctioned live from the stage right after his set. We were pleased that it tied the most money brought in by any auction item that evening – $10K! 100% of the proceeds go to Foundation To Be Named Later’s non-profits in Chicago serving kids and families from disadvantaged neighborhoods, primarily in the South and West sides of Chicago, including college scholarships to Chicago HS seniors. It should be noted that over the past 15 years, Hot Stove Cool Music has raised $12M for underserved youth and families in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Boston and Chicago.
One more cool thing: I mentioned the Cubs World Series championship in 2016, so what could be cooler for me than getting up-close and personal with the actual trophy!