I admit, I was nervous to be speaking with three-time Golden Globe and Academy Award winning actor, producer, director and musician, Kevin Costner. I’ve been a long-time fan of his work and have seen him twice in concert with his band Modern West. But within a few moments, I was at ease as I found him as down-to-earth as the Iowan farmer, Ray, he portrayed in the movie Field of Dreams.
Kevin had hoped to be in town for one-on-one interviews to help promote the Thomas Fire Benefit Festival, but the tragic mudslides in Santa Barbara and Montecito had closed down the 101 keeping him homebound so we spoke over the phone and he gave me some background on how the benefit came about.
It was back in 2008 when Kevin reached out to his good friend Tim Hoctor to help produce his concert at Main and California in support of his latest film, “Swing Vote.” It was a huge undertaking, not an easy feat, so it wasn’t something Kevin thought Tim would want to do again, but he made the phone call to Tim who then reached out to Mark Hartley, and the proverbial ball was soon rolling.
Kevin’s love, care and concern for this town soon became evident. He told me it was just days after the start of the Thomas Fire that he knew he had to do something to help. He realizes one can’t know the true devastation of losing one’s home to a wildfire unless you personally have lost your home, but you can be there for people. You can stand with them. And that’s exactly what he wants to do for those who are suffering.
During our conversation Kevin also told me how he had personally taken a drive with a friend to Santa Paula to survey the damage and on their way back he stopped at the home where he grew up at here in Ventura for the first time in forty years. This was his history. The room where his brother left for Vietnam. The same TV room where he saw Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald when Kevin was only four years old, and where little did he know he’d star in a film on the same subject almost thirty years later (JFK).
The Thomas Fire Benefit Festival will be held at Plaza Park on Saturday, February 3, and will kick off with a VIP Chef Experience followed with live music featuring Kevin Costner and Modern West; Olivia Newton John (on her own recovery tour after second bout with breast cancer); three-time platinum hip hop and rap artist from Ventura, Super Duper Kyle; Grammy award winner, Colbie Caillat; Ventura’s own Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and as Mark Hartley teased, there may be a few more bands added. To keep up-to-date and purchase tickets, go to www.ThomasFireBenefit.com.