It takes three John’s to rock Rob’s foundation concert

Concert ReviewNovember 15, 2012The Vista

Surfer Rob Machado holds a benefit concert that honors his green efforts

 There’s more to Rob Machado than his wild dreadlock hairdo and being a surfing legend; he loves to educate children about saving the earth. Since 2004, the nonprofit Rob Machado Foundation has been teaching children to cultivate good habits such as recycling their trash and growing their own vegetables at local schools in San Diego.

It’s a wonder how Machado even has any time to hang out with friends from his own age group, especially if they are famous musicians. Then again, he did get three of his musician friends together for this sold out acoustic concert at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach on Nov. 13th. It is no coincidence that they all share the same name too: Jon Swift, John Rzeznick from The Goo Goo Dolls and Jon Foreman of Switchfoot. Machado also played guitar as he brought to light his childhood friendships with Foreman and Swift onstage.

Swift took the stage with a poetic, country number and crooned about “two lovers chasing the setting sun, like two gamblers on the run.” There’s something about the power of acoustics that plays into a personal experience on part of the listener, different from listening to a high volume electric guitar show. When Machado took the stage and played acoustic guitar alongside Swift’s banjo, which he switched to from the guitar for the final songs, it’s hard not to think of two ‘bro’s’ jamming together just for the fun of it.

Everyone of course knew Rzeznick, who was clearly the rockstar of the three. The mood of the concert immediately turned up a notch as he sang Goo Goo Dolls songs including “Let it Go,” “Slide” and “Iris” to the crowd’s anticipation. As a band with a number of popular songs, Rzeznick was also able to play some lesser-known tunes, such as “Broadway,” which Rzeznick says he wrote in his hometown Buffalo, N.Y.

Bearing on the high-energy momentum the musician himself built up, Rzeznick flaunted his guitar and decided to auction it off to the audience in favor of Rob’s foundation. The prices went higher and higher until a man finally had the last shout and won the guitar for $6,000. This soft-spoken bidder joined Rzeznick onstage and to everyone’s surprise, gave the guitar away to another donor who bid $5,000 and took back nothing with his high donation. An amazing $11,000 was donated that instant; Rzeznick proved his skills as an impromptu auctioneer-cum-musician.

Foreman was next on the agenda, but not without an introduction by Machado about his appearance despite playing two other shows the night before in Texas.

Foreman’s fatigue was barely acknowledged as he played Switchfoot’s famous song, “Dare You to Move,” with the passion only a musician could uphold. Jon improvised by playing a whimsical cover of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys and a cowboy-inspired, square-dancing song which he admitted he wrote while half asleep. Of the three, Foreman showed the most versatility in playing a variety of genres and had a “show must go on” attitude even with his apparent exhaustion, evident in his brief performance time.

The benefit rounded up with an encore of Machado and his three musician friends onstage finishing a number together with Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” a song fitting for the very Americana night. It’s hard not to stifle a laugh when Machado talked about another friend he knew by the name of Jon, also helping him with his foundation, but then again, it has to be more than a coincidence. Then again, if you are doing it for the kids, knowing people coincidentally by the same name goes a long way.