Sunday 19 December 2021


This year's show includes a filmed visit to the Long Beach branch of U.S. Vets, an organization that works to get homeless veterans off the streets and into housing.

Long before Joe Walsh found rock ‘n’ roll fame as a guitarist and singer in the James Gang and the Eagles, he was a boy whose Air Force lieutenant father died while on active duty in 1949.

“I am a Gold Star kid,” Walsh says in a recent phone call to talk about VetsAid, his annual benefit concert raising funds for veterans organizations. “One day, my dad didn’t come back.

“There was no real explanation of it to me,” he says. “I grew up just always wishing I knew what my dad was like. Just the sadness and the experience.” Walsh says he relates to other Gold Star families, understanding what it’s like when a loved one doesn’t come back from war.

Later on, when the Eagles would swing through Washington D.C. on tour, Walsh often visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in nearby Bethesda, Maryland, meeting veterans waiting on artificial limbs in the prosthetic wing.

But it was witnessing the plight of homeless vets, visible on street corners in many American cities, that really sparked the first VetsAid concert in 2017.

“Everywhere I go, I see homeless veterans,” Walsh says. “That’s just not OK to me, so I figured maybe this is somewhere where I can make a difference.”

In its first three years, VetsAid was held in Virginia, Washington and Texas with acts such as Chris Stapleton, James Taylor, the Zac Brown Band, Haim, and Walsh’s brother-in-law Ringo Starr part of the show.

A year ago, VetsAid went virtual during the pandemic, and Walsh is keeping this fifth installment of the benefit online one more year for safety’s sake.

“Last year, we didn’t really have a clue,” he says of the 2020 virtual event that included artists such as Gwen Stefani, Eddie Vedder, Willie Nelson, and James Hetfield of Metallica. “But I think we got it this year.”

“The Basement Show,” as he’s billing the prerecorded livestreaming program, has a little bit of everything, Walsh says of the show. It will be available Dec. 18-25, with tickets available for a minimum $15 donation available at

“Most people have a basement, but I have a man-cave, which is a mad scientist laboratory where I keep my guitars,” he says. “I’ve been a ham radio operator since 1961, so I have all kinds of wires and tubes and stuff.

“I kinda invited everybody into my basement, and I’ll give them a tour of my studio and my guitars and all,” Walsh says. “It’s kind of my headquarters where I hosted the virtual broadcast.”

All three of the live VetsAid concerts were taped, and never-before-seen performances from artists who played in previous years will be streamed this year.


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