Coran Capshaw Honored by Dave Matthews, Trey Anastasio, Joseph & More at City of Hope Gala

Lester Cohen/Getty Images for City of Hope
Honoree Coran Capshaw accepts the Spirit of Life Award from Dave Matthews at MFEI Spirit Of Life Honoring Coran Capshaw on Nov. 2, 2017 in Santa Monica, Calif. 

"Since we first started making money," said Matthews, "one of the most important things that we both shared was giving money away."

While presenting Coran Capshaw with City of Hope’s 2017 Spirit of Life award Thursday night, Dave Matthews noted his longtime manager’s philanthropic bent: “He’s incredibly generous. Since we first started making money ... one of the most important things that we both shared was giving money away.... It’s an incredible gift to be able to help out your fellow human beings in any way possible.”

Capshaw, founder of Red Light Management, certainly has continued to live by that credo. His campaign for City of Hope, which culminated with Thursday night’s gala at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, raised more than $4.8 million for the world-renowned research, education and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. 

In a warm, humorous speech, Matthews saluted the man who has worked with Dave Matthews Band for more than two decades, including a tale about the first time Matthews’ mother met Capshaw before the pair started working together. “Afterwards, my mother pulled me aside and said, ‘I trust him because he has very sad eyes.’ And that was a great review, I think, because I trust my mom. I trust [Capshaw] absolutely and I trust his intentions completely and he’s one of the very few people I can say that with complete confidence... I feel like every penny that I’ve paid him or made for him, which is quite a pile, he’s earned.”

After accepting the award, Capshaw praised the City of Hope for its ongoing work in saving lives. “In many ways this year -- to me and to many of us -- is the year of the tragedy, the fires up north, the hurricanes, Charlottesville... But as I’m thinking about City of Hope and the good work they do, it’s day in and day out. We have all these needs in the world, we’ve got a really tricky country with all the divisiveness, but day in and day out these people are there doing the good work they do and it’s just so important.” 

Capshaw turned personal when he talked about how the spirit of his late friend Chip Hooper, the head of music at Paradigm Talent Agency who booked Red Light acts Dave Matthews Band and Phish until his death last year from cancer, helped Capshaw agree to be honored. As Capshaw contemplated whether to accept, he heard Hooper’s voice in his head, urging him on.

“Working on this has been a great way to remember Chip,” Capshaw said before announcing that the City of Hope was starting the Chip Hooper Memorial Fund with $500,000. The fund is devoted to research toward finding a cure for neuroendocrine cancer, the illness that felled Hooper.  

For Phish’s Trey Anastasio, the evening was also personal. In 2009, his sister, Kristy, also died from neuroendocrine cancer. “When Chip was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer, I knew what he was in for since it’s an incurable disease,” said an emotional Anastasio. “When I was asked to do this gig tonight, I’m trying to explain how much it means to me to be up here, not just to celebrate Coran, who I love dearly, but to thank the City of Hope for keeping hope alive for other families who are going to have to go through what I’ve been through and what Chip’s family is going through." Anastasio then played “Miss You,” a moving song he wrote for his sibling following her death.

In addition to Anastasio, who played three songs, including debuting a new tune, “Soul Planet,” female sibling trio, Joseph, opened up the evening with two songs. Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, Matthews reeled through “Don’t Drink The Water,” “Samurai Cop,” “Bartender” and “Grey Street.” The Preservation Hall Jazz Band also provided a lively performance.

Also attending the event, which drew approximately 1,000 people, were several past honorees, including Sir Lucian Grainge, Rob Light, Irving Azoff, Tim Leiweke, Phil Quartararo and Neil Portnow.

Last year’s recipient, entertainment attorney Joel Katz, was in London and unable to attend but sent a warm video message: “You’re getting a wonderful honor tonight, Coran,” he said. “The City of Hope is a marvelous organization that treats so many people.... It’s an honor that you will remember for the rest of your life. You deserve it.”

Prior to last night’s event, City of Hope’s Music, Film and Entertainment Industry Group has raised more than $113 million for the hospital over 44 years. 


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