The Beach Boys, actor John Stamos perform at benefit for Cathedral Catholic High School

By Diane Y. Welch

On Saturday evening, March 1, 500 guests at “Mardi Gras with the Beach Boys,” a fundraising affair to benefit the arts programs at Cathedral Catholic High School (CCHS) and Notre Dame Academy, sang along with, and danced to, a medley of music from the nostalgic hits of the Beach Boys with actor John Stamos as guest percussionist. Held at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, the event was a sell-out.

Using a carnival theme, volunteers – led by event chair Janet Cruzon with Debby Rosenberger and Jennifer Kelly – set up dramatic table decor and arranged scores of silent auction items for a 5:30 p.m. reception, which was followed by dinner and a private concert in the Aragon Ballroom.

Two members of the Beach Boys — Michael Edward Love and Bruce Johnston — arrived early in the afternoon while the event preparations were underway to rehearse and to meet and greet with the press.

Love, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, who is a strong proponent of private schools and especially the arts in education, spoke about the event and why he was there. “My wife, Jacquelyne, and I often try to help private schools with their fundraising goals and we really like doing events like this one. It’s a party with a purpose,” said Love. The couple established an arts-centric private school in Lake Tahoe, their primary residence, a few years ago, said Love.

This is a return show for the Beach Boys. The Loves’ daughter, Ambha, is a senior at CCHS, having joined the school two years ago when the Beach Boys played a similar fundraising event.

“This time we wanted to help out specifically to raise funds for music programs, because, as you know, a lot of schools, both public and private, are challenged when it comes to funding the arts,” Love explained.

School president Stevan Laaperi, who was also present, commented, “We have a wonderful athletic and academic program and now we are focused on expanding our arts program, especially our music and theater curriculum. The goal is get straight ‘A’s’ across the disciplines,” said Laaperi.

The Beach Boys celebrated their 50th anniversary with a tour in 2012. This spring marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the hits “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “I Get Around.” Next year will be half century anniversaries for “California Girls” and “Good Vibrations,” all songs which were part of the line-up for the evening’s concert, along with “Kokomo” which was released in 1988. Co-written by Love with John Phillips (of The Mamas & the Papas), producer Terry Melcher and singer Scott McKenzie, it went to number one on the Billboard Charts.

Joining the Beach Boys band on stage was actor and musician John Stamos, who has been a longtime fan of the group and has played with them since 1985 through six of his television series, said Johnston. Stamos — who initially found fame as lead character Jesse in the sitcom “Full House” — plays guitar, drums and other percussion instruments.

Johnston had driven down from his home base in Santa Barbara for the event. He spoke of the timeless appeal of the Beach Boys hits.

“Music has no wrinkles to it, it doesn’t age like we do,” he joked.

Johnston, who has raised four children and has three young grandchildren, said that he misses being around kids, and fundraising events like these help him reconnect with them and make a difference.