Palenke Arts annual gala scheduled June 27

By Juan Sanchez

Palenke Arts’ 2019-20 year  has been filled with joy and drama. On the one hand, we managed to host classes in 13 different art disciplines for over 130 students, hosted seven different events, received an award as the Nonprofit of Year in the Arts from the Nonprofit Alliance of Monterey County and obtained our determination letter from the IRS as a 501c3 tax-exempt organization. On the other hand we found ourselves, like the rest of the world, dealing with the horrid consequences of a pandemic and the desperation of a community that, once again, faces the senseless and unjust loss of precious Black lives.


Tammi Brown

Yet, I am proud to say that the Palenke Arts Family has risen to the challenge in remarkable ways: our staff and teachers facilitated practically overnight a transition to online learning via zoom (private piano, chorus, hip hop dance, Latin Jazz) and Facebook and Youtube (Visual Arts, West African Drums, Latin Dance). We also managed to secure a $25,000 COVID-19 Relief grant from the Community Foundation of Monterey County for our families so they could pay for basic necessities. Our families and students in turn have persevered and continued working on their artwork defying overwhelming technological and economic odds.

As we start this new era for Palenke Arts we are convinced that our work is needed today more than ever. Our programs are funded primarily by grants and generous donors such as yourself. With your support we will be able to continue providing the community of Seaside with a safe, inclusive and inspiring home for the arts. That is why we would like to invite you to a Virtual Concert Gala featuring soulful chanteuse Tammi Brown and friends to benefit our programs. 

Tammi Brown and Lost American JazzBook

The Virtual Concert Gala will feature award-winning songstress Tammi Brown, and Jazz piano virtuoso Eddie Mendelhall performing songs from the Lost American JazzBook, with special guest artists and philanthropists: famed singer-songwriter Lauren Monroe, and Def Leppard’s drummer Rick Allen. The concert will be streamed live from Sunset Center’s Studio 105 as a benefit for Palenke Arts. 

Brown has performed with some of the most notable music industry icons known to the world including renowned Music Producer, Quincy Jones, Stanley Jordan, Dr. Maya Angelou, Joan Baez, Spyro Gyra, and Eric Bibb. She is currently a vocalist in the two-time Grammy Award nominated Vocal Ensemble, The Cultural Heritage Choir led by  musicologist Linda Tillery.  Tammi’s music journey has placed her on several stages in more than ten countries worldwide including the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, The Monterey Jazz and Blues Festivals, and various prestigious venues throughout Europe and abroad.

Eddie Mendenhall is an exceptional pianist and composer who currently performs throughout the San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay areas. Eddie attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston and went on to graduate with a degree in Jazz Composition. He then moved to Japan for 7 years and became one of the busiest pianists in Tokyo performing in jazz clubs, hotels, and embassies.

Lauren Monroe wrote her first song at six.  She discovered the written word as a teenager;  creating her truly unique style of expressing mystical experiences through symbolic imagery and music.  Inspired by bluegrass, rock and rootsy R&B, Lauren soon wrote her first Americana-flavored compositions, and thus began the journey to performing as a vocalist, songwriter, and recording artist.

Born in Queens, New York, Lauren both found and developed her authentic expression through poetry and music…. She began performing acoustic shows in San Francisco, later moving to Boulder, Colorado and formed her band, Coy Kindred. The band toured the Western U.S.; playing its rugged blend of rock, blues and funk at festivals, theaters, saloons and bars.

Moved and inspired by artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt and Janis Joplin, surely some of the greatest women rockers ever….Lauren Monroe developed a style that producers, musicians and rock historians have compared to those legendary women of rock and blues….a sound and vocal quality that is a nod to raw, sawdust-on-the-floor honesty that, combined with the emotional and spiritual power of her performance, draws audiences in, invigorates and speaks to us on so many levels.

“I experience music as an activator for healing. The sounds, the phrasing, the tempos, the lyrics all can cultivate a connection to our soul. The songs I write often come through me as visual imagery. I’ve often said that If I could pinpoint a genre for myself I would call my work visual music.”

Rick Allen became the drummer for Def Leppard at age 15. At the height of worldwide fame in 1984, he had a car accident that changed his life. Rick lost an arm, but turned personal tragedy into spiritual transformation and continued his musical career. While he was already a hero to millions of young people, he soon added millions of new admirers. Since then Rick has been reaching out and giving support to others all over the globe by sharing his personal experiences and his love of drumming.

Over the past 10 years Rick has reached out to teenage cancer patients, children with special needs, at risk youth in crisis, families of domestic violence and veterans who have served in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was awarded the Humanitarian Award by Maria Shriver’s Best Buddies of CA in 2002 and continues his work through the Veteran Resiliency Project created by his nonprofit the Raven Drum Foundation. Rick, in 2012, was also awarded the prestigious Wounded Warrior Project’s Carry It Forward Award.

Palenke Arts Benefit Concert Gala featuring Tammi Brown, pianist Eddie Mendelhall, and celebrity guest artists, singer Lauren Monroe and drummer Rick Allen (Def Leppard)  

When: Saturday, June 27, 2020, 6-7:30 pm

Where: Streamed Live from Studio 105 at Sunset Center

Stream link:

Donations accepted through 

Juan Sanchez is the program coordinator for Palenke Arts in Salinas.

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