Fundraiser for 'Harry's House'

(L-R) Rona Barrett, singer Paula Cole, and Rona Barrett Foundation board member Tresha Sell at the Harry's House benefit at the Lobero Theatre on July 8.

Mike Mesikep, Contributed

Despite the closure of Highway 154 caused by the Whittier fire, several dozen Santa Ynez Valley residents made their way into Santa Barbara Saturday night to enjoy the Count Basie Orchestra with guest artist, singer Paula Cole at the historic Lobero Theatre. It was a fundraiser for the Rona Barrett Foundation benefiting Harry's House at the Golden Inn & Village (GIV), a Home for Alzheimer's and Assisted Living.

The Count Basie Orchestra, celebrating 82 years of continuing performances, put on a memorable jazz concert under the direction of Scotty Barnhart. The orchestra's vocalist, Carmen Bradford - the last singer hired by Basie himself before his death in 1984 - brought down the house each time she came in on a number. 

Special guest artist, Paula Cole, a Grammy Award-winning singer, came to the stage for several additional numbers that took her and the audience back to her jazz roots.

Auctioneer extraordinaire and Community Bank of Santa Maria CEO Jim Glines held court on stage during the concert intermission. Along with his spotter crew, including his son and granddaughter, Glines encouraged audience members to frequently raise their paddles.

There was an especially heated bidding war for the "Taste of Sideways at the Hitching Post II" package that included a case of Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post pinot noir and a $500 gift certificate to the Buellton restaurant. It went for $1,800.

A package donated by Glines himself for a Santa Maria-style barbecue for 20 prepared and served at the winning bidder's home, brought out another two equally exuberant bidders. Glines generously doubled up the package, selling it twice for $2,000 each. 

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Dressed in her trademark red, Barrett shared with the audience how her father's own struggle with Alzheimer's disease and her years of caring for him, inspired her to build GIV and how the funds raised on this night would help her build GIV's final chapter, Harry's House.

It's expected that construction will begin on the 60-room building before the end of the year.

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