‘D.C. Stands for the Troops’ Benefit Concert at Lisner Auditorium

Saturday night at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium was the inaugural Stand for the Troops’ Rescue Coalition Benefit Concert with the George Washington University Office of Military and Veterans Affairs and GW Vets.  It was a hodgepodge of musicians featuring music and even comedy. The range of music went from Indian, folk, rock, and jazz with a dash of comedic brilliance by Jim Breuer.


Stand for the Troops is an apolitical nonprofit foundation dedicated to protecting the physical, mental and emotional well-being for America’s frontline troops.  It was co-founded and chaired by army widow Eilhys England Hackworth.

Hosted by the incredible Maureen Bunyan of WJLA Channel 7 News, this event was put together pretty quickly and was quite amazing.

First the show honored army veteran Major Ben Richards who was attacked in Iraq by a suicide bomber in 2007. General Peter Chiarelli, US Army Vice Chief of Staff (Ret.) of Seattle WA presented  the Purple Heart to Major Richards US Army (Ret.) of Council Bluffs, Iowa, “for dozens of blasts, suicide car bombers and exploding IED’s underneath vehicles sustained while leading his Stryker Cavalry troop on missions in Iraq. His ‘invisible’ wounds caused debilitating Traumatic Brain Injury and cut short a promising military career.” SFTT intervened to get him into a new treatment program at no cost. Richards says that SFTT intervention saved his life. With his four beautiful children by his side, Major Richards thanked the medical team, and two of his doctors were in the audience who have helped him recover from his traumatic brain injury.

The performances in order were Tom Prasada-Rao;Buskin & Batteau;The Bucky Pizzarelli & Ed Laub Duo;Jim Breuer, and The Bacon Brothers. Each performer had a 3 or 4 song/set which made for a long performance of almost four hours.

Tom Prasada-Rao. Photo by Karan Simpson.
Tom Prasada-Rao. Photo by Karan Simpson.

Tom Prasda-Rao is a DC area native, but grew up in Ethiopia with Indian parents.  You can distinctively hear Indian musical influences in his work. In 2010, Billboard magazine called him, “the most compelling presence to emerge in the singer-songwrite genre.” He is a winner of 14 local WAMMIE Awards. His voice is beautiful and his guitar playing fluid. And I loved the sitar influence in the songs he performed.

Buskin and Batteau. Photo by Jake Jacobson.
Buskin and Batteau. Photo by Jake Jacobson.

Next was Buskin & Batteau who are more folk music. The band is composed of David Buskin, Robin Batteau, and their percussionist Marshal Rosenberg. They had a hilarious song called “Jews Don’t Camp.” At first I was shocked, but it was quite funny. The audience was totally digging the song and its other observations about Jewish life. I particularly loved bassist  Paul Guzzone who was literally dancing the whole time while playing the bass.

Bucky Pizzarelli and Ed Lab.
Bucky Pizzarelli and Ed Laub.

Next was The Bucky Pizzarelli & Ed Laub Duo. Bucky is 88 years old and can still jam. Ed is Bucky’s former student and they regularly perform together, and play a 7-string guitar. Bucky smiles the whole time he is playing. I loved watching them both jam away. What a gorgeous voice Ed has.

After intermission Jim Breuer and The Bacon Brothers entertained the crowd.

 Jim Breuer.
Jim Breuer.

Jim Breuer killed it with stories about his World War II father being unfazed meeting celebrities during Breuer’s days on Saturday Night Live. “Dad, want to meet Sting?”  Dad: “Does he go to the Elks Lodge?” Breuer is the master of impressions from Sting to Sylvester Stallone to a vulture to a Goat Boy. He had the audience rolling in the aisles.

Michael and Kevin Bacon.
Michael and Kevin Bacon.

Last, but not least, were The Bacon Brothers. They thanked the audience for sticking around until the end, and then played about a 40-minute set and rocked the place! It was fun watching Kevin Bacon jokes around with his big brother Kevin, who announced that he just celebrated 25 years of marriage to actress Kyra Sedgewick. The audience applauded!  The band played a loving song about being an empty nester called “493 Miles.”

All the musicians came out for the finale which was  James Taylor’s “Shower the People.” What a great way to end a wonderful concert. I look forward to next year’s show!

Running Time: Approximately four hours, with one intermission.

Stand for the Troops played for one night on March 22, 2014 at The George Washington University’s Lisner’s Auditorium— 730 21st Street NW, in Washington, DC.


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Marlene Hall
Marlene Hall grew up an army brat and has lived all over the world and in Washington, DC where she was constantly exposed to theater and music. Marlene graduated from the University of Virginia where she wrote for the Cavalier Daily interviewing musicians. Commissioned as an Air Force officer, she served 8 years. She now works as a realtor with eXp Realty. In addition, Marlene dabbles in improvisational comedy and has taken classes at the famed iO Theater in Chicago and the DC Improv. She is very active in the DC charity and social scene and contributes her time to veterans’ organizations Team Rubicon and Team Red, White, and Blue. She also was a supernumerary in the Washington National Opera’s Carmen with opera singer Denyce Graves. She loves the music and theater scene in DC and goes to as many concerts and shows as possible.



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