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Youth Rock the Rebuild Makes Thunderous Return

Kid-powered charity organization holds sold-out concert at Sweetwater to benefit Kiddo, with two more events planned for later this year.

While the of the has provided a reunion spot of sorts for , its owners also have made it clear that they’re making plenty of room for the next generation.

That intent was on display in spades Sunday night as , a kid-powered organization that hosts charity concerts featuring local youth bands, held a benefit show for in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 300 people.

“It was really lovely to see the turnout – just amazing,” said one of the event’s organizers, Charlie McDonald, whose son Chase is a member of Third Rock, one of Youth Rock the Rebuild’s main contributors. “It’s such a huge, positive opportunity for these kids, and we’re thrilled to have a Kiddo connection.”

Hosted by local legend and Sweetwater co-owner Bob Weir, the event featured more than a dozen performances, from the Mill Valley Middle School Jazz Band and vocal ensemble group ‘Til Dawn to nine-year-old Sema Serifsoy-DiFalco and budding local star Matt Jaffe.

The organization was formed in 2009, with two separate charitable efforts merging in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti to raise money to aid the recovery there. Chase McDonald and his Third Rock bandmates had been playing benefit shows, one of which raised enough money to construct a school in Ethiopia. Simultaneously, a group started by Miller Klitsner and Zev Shearn-Nance of Larkspur was putting on rock and roll fundraisers at the Larkspur Theatre as part of a community service project.

“It became obvious right away that we should bring these two community efforts together and have lots of musicians,” McDonald said.

The group held a series of four concerts after the earthquake, raising $50,000 and helping to build two schools there in Haiti. took place at the Woods, the at the .

Youth Rock the Rebuild didn’t stage any concerts in 2011 but is back in force in 2012. On the heels of Sunday’s show for Kiddo, the organization has another show set for the on May 19 to benefit the Windhorse Foundation by helping to pay for the reconstruction of an orphanage in Laos.

“We’re going to let the kids pick their causes,” said Ipek Serifsoy, whose 9-year-old daughter Sema performed a rendition of The Doors’ “Light My Fire” Sunday night and suggested Windhorse as a Youth Rock beneficiary.

The organization has a much larger event planned for Sept. 21 at the in conjunction with the International Day of Peace. McDonald said that event will incorporate music, dance, art and poetry and hopes to be the largest Youth Rock the Rebuild event yet.

McDonald said he hopes the Sweetwater will also play a role in the Sept. 21 event. He called the Sweetwater’s potential role in fostering the local youth music scene and the willingness of its owners to do so a “game changer.” He hopes to develop a mentoring program where older kids mentor younger and aspiring youth musicians, using the Sweetwater as a hub.

“These are guys with deep pockets and huge hearts,” he said.

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