Intriguing collaborations and surprise guest appearances highlighted the Recording Artist Coalition (RAC) benefit concerts last night (Feb. 26) in and around Los Angeles. The four Grammy-week shows ra

Intriguing collaborations and surprise guest appearances highlighted the Recording Artist Coalition (RAC) benefit concerts last night (Feb. 26) in and around Los Angeles. The four Grammy-week shows raised funds to support the RAC's work, including political lobbying, on behalf of the group's musician members.

Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Beck, and Social Distortion's Mike Ness joined each other on stage frequently at the alt-rock oriented show at Wiltern Theatre, with Beck later bringing up Radiohead's Thom Yorke for a cover of the Velvet Underground's "I'm Set Free."

The newly mohawked Vedder, playing one of the most high-profile solo sets of his career, took the opportunity to unveil four new songs, three of them played on ukulele. He also offered his cover of the Beatles' "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away," which has become a minor rock radio hit of late thanks to its inclusion on V2's "I Am Sam" soundtrack.

Beck strummed through a series of new songs likely to appear on his next album later this year, as well as such covers as the Zombies' "Beechwood Park." Following Yorke's surprise appearance, Beck joined Vedder and Ness for a show-closing cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sweet Virginia." Modern rock was also represented up the road in Long Beach, as Weezer, the Offspring, and No Doubt headlined a sold-out show at the Long Beach Arena.

At the Forum in Inglewood, the Eagles dusted off such staples as "Take It to the Limit," "Life in the Fast Lane," "Hotel California," and drummer Don Henley's solo hit "Boys of Summer." Henley, an RAC founder who has lobbied heavily to affect change in artists' contracts, told the crowd, "this is to help artists get their fair share and we thank you for your support."

Actor Tom Hanks introduced Stevie Nicks, who drafted Henley to guest on her own "Leather and Lace" from 1981's "Bella Donna." She was also joined by Tom Petty to reprise "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," their No. 3 pop hit from that album. Sheryl Crow and Billy Joel also performed at the Forum.

Meanwhile, at the Universal Amphitheatre, the Dixie Chicks headed up a bill that included Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Trisha Yearwood, and Dwight Yoakam. Yearwood played an hour-long, 11-song set, made "self-effacing comments" and joked about sound problems "to keep the crowd smiling," according to Nashville's Tennessean newspaper. Among the songs she performed were opener "Perfect Love," "Like We Never Had a Broken Heart," and set closing number "How Do I Live," popularized by LeAnn Rimes.

The Chicks' set featured many of their hits -- including "Ready to Run" and the show closing encore of "Goodbye Earl" -- as well as a pair of guest appearances. Bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs joined the trio onstage for a run through his "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," and later on, Crow showed up to trade verses with Natalie Maines on Bob Dylan's "Mississippi."

During the set Maines alluded to the group's own record label troubles, telling the crowd, "We did make a new record. Now we have to find a new label to put it out." As previously reported, the group has been involved in a protracted legal battle with Sony over its contract and royalties.

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