The Sonoma Music Festival, held in early October this year, was by all accounts an artistic and financial success, but festival founder Bruce Cohn measures success not by how much money he makes, but how much he distributes.
About 10 weeks after the lights dimmed on the Doobie Brothers, concluding the three-day festival at the Field of Dreams, B.R. Cohn Charity Events divvied up the proceeds among many local and regional charities, including the Fisher House Foundation for returning veterans, Redwood Empire Food Bank, Bread and Roses Presents, American Legion Post 489, Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, Sonoma Native Sons and other local organizations.
Cohn, the 68-year-old manager of the Doobie Brothers, founder and former owner of B.R. Cohn Winery, and a longtime supporter of organizations such as these, presented the Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) a check for $40,000 on Dec. 17.
“We are extremely grateful for Bruce’s support to end hunger in our community,” said David Goodman, CEO of the Redwood Empire Food Bank. Noting that Cohn has donated $150,000 to the REFB since 2010, Goodman added, “Support such as his fuels the innovative programs developed to put food on the tables of our neighbors facing hunger today and in the months to come.”
Another recurring beneficiary of Cohn’s donations has been the Fisher House Foundation, which provides comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment at a nearby VA hospital or other facility. There are five Fisher Houses in California, the closest being at the Travis Air Force Base near Fairfield.
Mary Considine, chief of staff for the organization, attended the past two B.R. Cohn Charity concerts. “I spoke with many Veterans in the Music Festival audience last year who volunteer their time supporting the Travis Fisher Houses,” she said. “Events like this really shine a light on the Fisher House program, often to a new community that might not have been familiar with it before.” While the final cash distribution to Fisher House has not yet been made, it’s estimated to be over $80,000.
Although the first to be held in the city of Sonoma, this year’s charity concert was the 29th in a series that Cohn has produced, most of them at the Glen Ellen winery he sold earlier this year. This year’s festival featured Ringo Starr, Chicago, the Doobie Brothers, and Gregg Allman among other rock acts.
Cohn claims several firsts from this year’s concerts, including a record number of tickets sold, the first nighttime shows (with video screens), the first Beatle to appear in Sonoma (Ringo), and a considerable amount of proceeds from both concessions and auctions. The concerts drove the accumulated tally Cohn has donated over the years to nearly $7 million, according to Cohn’s publicist.
Next year’s 2016 Sonoma Music Festival is scheduled for Oct. 7 to 9, Friday through Sunday, again at Sonoma’s Field of Dreams. It will be the 30th annual benefit from B.R. Cohn Charity Events. Visit www.sonomamusicfest.com for ticket and headliner information.
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