On Dec. 18, Joe Walsh will head into his basement and jam with with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench, guitarist Waddy Wachtel, bassist Leland Sklar, and drummer Russ Kunkel along with his brother-in-law Ringo Starr for the streaming concert “VetsAid 2021: The Basement Show,” the latest installment of the guitarist’s annual benefit for veterans’ causes. Tickets for the live event are available at vetsaid.veeps.com, and the show will be available to watch through Dec. 26.
“With variable COVID rates throughout the summer and fall, I wasn’t comfortable putting together the kind of live festival that our fans and performers have come to expect and deserve,” Walsh said in a statement. “I was so pleased with last year’s streaming festival that I thought we could try something even cooler this time around. Join me and my buddies for an old-fashioned basement jam live from my house to yours where I will debut some brand new songs, play some favorites, share some never-before-seen footage and performances from past VetsAid shows and … who knows who will show up and what might happen?!”
VetsAid started in 2017 when Walsh held a special show in Fairfax, Virginia, at the EagleBank Arena featuring the Zac Brown Band, Keith Urban, and Gary Clark Jr. In the following years, everyone from James Taylor and the Doobie Brothers to ZZ Top, Sheryl Crow, Chris Stapleton, and Don Henley joined the effort, though last year Walsh was forced to stage VetsAid virtually due to the pandemic.
Walsh’s father was a U.S. Army flight instructor who died in plane crash in 1949 while serving in Okinawa, Japan. Walsh was just 20 months old at the time. “I grew up with a part of me missing, which was my father,” the guitarist told Rolling Stone in 2019. “I never really knew him. I always wondered, ‘What if?’ I wondered if he would approve of what I was doing. I’m sure he would’ve told me to get a haircut a couple of times.”
He started VetsAid to help other families in similar situations. “I see a forgotten war that’s ongoing, and more suicides than combat deaths,” he told Rolling Stone. “Guys are coming home shattered, and the transition back to civilian life is too high of a mountain to climb for a lot of them.”
His efforts have raised $1.8 million, and this year’s event is going to add to that number. In addition to the basement jam, Walsh will take viewers on a tour of his private guitar collection and answer questions that fans submitted online.
Fans can catch Walsh live again when the Eagles resume their Hotel California tour Feb. 19 at the Enmarket Arena in Savannah, Georgia.