Chili Pepper, Colicchio Face Guitar Pros in Charity Mash

Chad Smith
Chad Smith, the drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers who plays guitar in his spare time, will do it for fun and charity when he performs at New York's City Winery at the first Guitar Mash, a jam session for professional and amateur musicians. Photographer: Clara Balzary via Bloomberg

“It doesn’t matter how you do it,” said wealth adviser Arthur Black. “It’s just about picking up your guitar and playing.”

Black will live a rock fan’s dream tomorrow when he plies his Fender Stratocaster with guitar masters such as Vernon Reid of Living Colour.

The 43-year-old Black, co-founder of the New York-based wealth advisory firm BBR Partners LLC, is one of several amateur guitarists who will play and sing with professionals at Guitar Mash, a charity event and jam session at New York’s City Winery.

Other professionals include Larry Campbell, who has played behind Bob Dylan; composer Lenny Kaye, guitarist for Patti Smith’s bands; and Mark Stewart, Paul Simon’s musical director, who will lead the event.

The amateurs are Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, who plays guitar for fun; guitar collector and chef Tom Colicchio; and Jason Ackerman, the co-founder and chief executive officer of FreshDirect, the online grocer.

“Nobody’s looking at you and saying, ‘Oh, you don’t have chops,’” said Colicchio, who has jammed with Stewart before. “I’m good enough so that I can hold my own, and the only way to get better is to play with people better than you.”

From the corporate world, Sammy Ash, the president and chief operating officer of music instrument retailer Sam Ash Music Corp., will bring along a guitar or two from his collection of more than 100. Tony Sosnick, founder and chief executive officer of Anthony Brands, which sells personal-care products, will also bring his.

The musicians will get vocal support from ticket buyers singing along.

‘Creative Process’

“The event allows the musicians to interact with their audience and share their creative process,” said Rebecca Weller, Guitar Mash’s founder and producer. “The guitarist in the audience is going to be as important as the artist onstage.”

Ticket sales and donations from patrons such as Black and Colicchio will help raise money for future jam sessions. Some of the proceeds also go to the Church Street School for Music and Art’s scholarship fund for music education.

There will be a silent auction for 12 guitars and other music equipment, including a Fender signed by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Black said he spent many hours as a teen playing air guitar and listening to heavy-metal groups such as AC/DC. He began to take guitar lessons years later when he bought a new 1992 Stratocaster.

Wharton MBA

“I said, ‘Wow, this opens up a whole new world of playing,’” said Black, who earned an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania before joining Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s private-client division. Twelve years ago he co-founded BBR Partners, which advises high-net-worth clients.

The song list for Mash includes Chuck Berry’s “Nadine”; “Mystery Train” by Elvis Presley; “American Tune” by Paul Simon; and “The Kids Are Alright” by The Who. Black hopes the group will add a Beatles classic to the mix.

“‘Come Together’ would be a great song to play,” Black said.

(Guitar Mash is Sunday at City Winery, 155 Varick St. in Manhattan from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will be streamed live on the Web. Tickets and information: or +1-212-608-0555.)

Muse highlights include Greg Evans and Craig Seligman on movies.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE