Kevin Costner and his Band to Headline Thomas Fire Benefit Festival

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Although road closures kept Kevin Costner from doing an interview Tuesday at Gold Coast Broadcasting in Ventura, his plans to perform at a benefit concert for victims of the Thomas Fire remain underway.

His band, Modern West, will join a star-studded lineup of performers during the Thomas Fire Benefit Festival from 2-9 p.m. Feb. 3 at Plaza Park in downtown Ventura.

Other performers will include Olivia Newton-John, Colbie Caillat, Super Duper KYLE and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

For Costner, the cause is close to home.

“I lived in Upper Ojai and Santa Paula and Ventura, so my roots are authentic in that sense,” Costner said. “I learned to drive there. I know the streets, the hills. I know everything about those places.”

The Thomas Fire that started near Santa Paula on Dec. 4 devastated parts of Ventura and neighboring communities, eventually burning more than 281,893 acres and destroying more than 1,000 structures, leaving hundreds of people without homes.

On Tuesday, a rainstorm that brought deadly mudslides to the Montecito area forced evacuations in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and shut down a section of Highway 101 between Highway 126 and Seacliff that connects the two counties.

During the festival, 100 percent of funds raised will be used to assist victims of the fire through the Ventura County Community Foundation, World Central Kitchen and the Downtown Ventura Organization’s Wildfire Victim Fund — with the goal to help the region recover from what has become the largest officially recorded wildfire in modern California history.

Costner had to leave his home in Summerland, and his daughter, who is pregnant with her first child, had to evacuate her Ojai home in the middle of the night with her husband when the Thomas Fire threatened. Today, they are all safe and back in their homes.

“All the time this was happening, I knew we were lucky, and I understood that other people weren’t,” Costner said.

The festival will offer the community a way to give back to their neighbors while also enjoying live music, gourmet food and camaraderie.

“It’s hard to imagine what (the victims) will be feeling,” Costner said. “You can’t absorb their pain; you can’t absorb their loss. But we’re the only species on the planet that will line up with each other when things go wrong. And our level of empathy is what separates us from everything else.”

World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés and other celebrity guests and local restaurateurs plan to create an assortment of specialty dishes for VIP festival-goers to accompany wine and craft beer prior to the concert.

Tickets for the concert are $50. VIP tickets, good for sampling from 2-5 p.m. are $150.

For more information on the festival or to purchase tickets, visit

To volunteer or learn more about donation opportunities, call 805-628-9588.

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