Pat Monahan, the lead singer and enduring original member of Train, has for several years dedicated proceeds from recordings, concerts and the band’s associated wine businesses to charity.
On Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, BottleRock Presents brought Train to the JaM Cellars Ballroom at the Napa Valley Opera House for a fire relief benefit concert with all proceeds going to the Napa Valley Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund. The concert was sold-out.
On the phone from his home outside of Seattle in November, Monahan talked about how his own family’s medical experiences led to a major philanthropic commitment in their lives.
“I have four children,” he said, “and two of them, my youngest two, both spent a good amount of time in the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) at the Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. That’s a pretty scary time for a parent.
“In 2009, when we knew we needed to find a charity to give back to San Francisco, we looked at a lot of places, and, honestly, Family House had this amazing rating because so much of the money that they were able to raise went to these families. I went to visit and met this incredible staff, most of whom were contributing their time.”
Family House describes itself as a “home away from home for families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses by providing physical comfort and emotional support, free from financial concerns.”
“I met these kids, and I knew that some of them I would never see again,” Monahan said. “It broke my heart and it made me think that there wasn’t a better way to make a contribution to the Bay Area, to give their families dignity and a home and food while they’re dealing with the worst thing that they’ll ever deal with in their lives.”
On the heels of Train’s mainstream success in the 1990s and 2000s — more than 10 million albums sold worldwide, multiple platinum/gold citations, three Grammys, two Billboard Music Awards – Monahan and the band have dedicated all the proceeds from two of their albums and from their wine ventures, the Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co. and Drops of Jupiter Wines, to Family House.
Monahan said that after nearly two decades of abstinence, he became interested in wine after meeting James Foster, the head winemaker at Concannon Vineyards. “My family, my heritage, all had a problem with alcohol. So I didn’t drink for 17 years. Then when we found Family House and I met James, and married the girl of my dreams, I decided, you know, Jesus drank wine. So I started to drink wine with my wife.
“There are days that I indulge more than I should, but it doesn’t get me in trouble. I think the thing about wine, as opposed to Milwaukee’s Best, is that there’s a real art to it, and it’s one that I know much, much more about now and appreciate on a high level.”
Monahan was not hesitant about participating in a benefit concert for fire relief in wine country. “I have a lot of friends in the wine industry,” he said, “and many of them have five or 10 employees that all lost their homes. These are regular people just trying to do a regular job. This isn’t about saving wine. It’s about helping the people that actually make the art, and do that beautiful work to make your wine.”