This article was originally published by Geroge Varga at The San Diego Union-Tribune (Oct. 25, 2019 5 AM):
Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top will host and perform at the “America Salutes You presents Guitar Legends 3,” which will top off the debut edition of next month’s three-day Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival in San Diego.
The entire 90-minute “Guitar Legends 3″ show will be filmed. It will subsequently be televised on the CW Network as a fundraiser for brain and mental wellness charities that assist U.S. military veterans and first responders.
Gibbons will be joined at the outdoor Nov. 24 performance here by fellow Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Nancy Wilson. She is the co-founder of the band Heart and a former Oceanside and La Jolla resident. The “Guitar Legends 3″ lineup will also feature Toto co-founder Steve Luthaker and Charlie Starr of Blackberry Smoke.
The festival will be held downtown from Nov. 22 to Nov. 24 on multiple outdoor stages between Hilton Bayfront Park and Broadway Port Pier. Tickets and more information are available online at: wonderfrontfestival.com/ticket-info/
At least one other Rock & Roll Hall inductee and several “major surprise guests” will be added to the “Guitar Legends 3″ lineup in the coming weeks, according to Bob Okun, the executive producer of the three previously nationally televised “America Salutes You” specials. The two most recent editions, both held in Los Angeles and both hosted by ZZ Top’s Gibbons, were the first and second iterations of the “Guitar Legends” concerts.
This marks the first time the guitar-fueled event will take place in San Diego and the first time it will be held as part of a festival, rather than as a stand-alone indoor event. The addition of Gibbons, Wilson, Lukather and the other veteran six-string stars should broaden the multi-generational appeal of Wonderfront. The other headlining acts — which include Miguel, Ben Harper, Migos and San Diego’s Slightly Stoopid — generally appeal to a younger demographic.
“Our ‘Guitar Legends’ music director, Martin Guigui, is friends with (Wonderfront co-founder) Ernie Hahn II and Ernie asked me to come out to San Diego and meet with him,” Okun said Thursday, speaking from his office in Washington, D.C. A former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, Odun is the CEO of ThanksUSA, a national nonprofit that provides educational funding support to the children
“Wonderfront is a different and exciting project, and San Diego is such a great military town. Even though the festival is brand new and this is its inaugural year, we think that the outdoor setting, the close proximity to the USS Midway and Wonderfront’s built-in audience makes for a great combination.
“We are nonprofit and raise money for other nonprofits. Wonderfront is a for-profit festival, but they wanted a charitable component and are excited about teaming up with us and the additional publicity that will result. It’s a smart move on their part, and on ours.”
Okun’s excitement is shared by Wonderfront co-founder Hahn, the longtime general manager of the San Diego Sports Arena (now known as Pechanga Arena San Diego).
“We’re really excited to have this be part of the festival,” Hahn said. “It’s a great lineup of guitarists and adds another (dimension) to Wonderfront.”
The “Guitar Legends 3″ headliners will be backed here by a Los Angeles band that is led by drum great Kenny Aronoff.
“We’ll have some interesting duets with Billy Gibbons and the other featured artists,” Okun said. “We also ask each of them to play the songs they are generally identified with, the songs that made their name. And, of course, the show will end with a grand finale by all the guitarists.”