The Bridge School Benefit Concerts 25th Anniversary Edition DVD

Studio: Reprise

Nov 29, 2011 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Twenty-five years ago, Pegi Young founded The Bridge School, a non-profit organization dedicated to the education of children with severe speech, language, and physical impairments, in part as a response to the frustrations Pegi and her husband Neil Young had with properly educating their own son, Ben, who suffers from cerebral palsy. Each year, The Bridge School hosts a benefit concert featuring notable musicians playing their songs on acoustic instruments. Artists who have participated over the years include Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, The Who, Thom Yorke, and Sonic Youth, along with Neil Young, who plays every year.

This anniversary set features two DVDs filled with performances spanning the concerts' 25 years, from Springsteen's sparse version of "Born in the USA," from the concert's first year, to Pearl Jam's gentle, reworked rendition of "Better Man," from 2010. Each performance is introduced by one of the Bridge School students, using a communication device, and the students are seen sitting behind the performers on the stage for each performance. The artists included are diverse, from Fleet Foxes and Devendra Banhart, to Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor. R.E.M.'s "Country Feedback," performed with Neil Young in 1998, is revelatory. Tom Waits is utterly mesmerizing doing "16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six" in 1999. And, strangely enough, one of the most engaging performances is from Billy Idol, doing "Rebel Yell" in 2001 and, commendably, interacting with the students throughout his performance (the questionable nature of shouting sexually suggestive lyrics to 10-year-olds notwithstanding).

The performances are largely impressive, but what's best about this three DVD set is its third disc, which includes a documentary about The Bridge School, its mission, and its success in working with these children, as well as a series of artist interviews conducted by Bridge School students using the skills and assistive communication tools they learned at the school. The courage of the Youngs in creating such a meaningful, nurturing, and educational environment for these students and, more strikingly the courage of the students in their accomplishments, is remarkable. This is the story of The Bridge School and it's much greater and more impactful than any musical performance. (bridgeschool.warnerreprise.com

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