Pearl Jam returns to perform in Seattle – and tackle the homeless crisis

SEATTLE — Seattle rock legends are using their music and influence to help solve one of the city's most daunting problems.

After five years away, grunge icon Pearl Jam is back home, performing two sold-out shows in Seattle on Aug. 8 and 10.

“Very excited,” said Jana Schenck, a Seattle Pearl Jam fan.

People from all over the world are here for the music. But the Seattle shows are bringing together more than just lovers of grunge.

“Pearl Jam really was the one who looked in our backyard and saw the need to do something to help our vulnerable neighbors,” said Sabrina Register, with the King County United Way.

Back in January, Pearl Jam announced the “Home Shows,” and lead guitarist Mike McCready pledged the band would donate a million dollars toward ending homelessness in Seattle.

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“I love this city with all my heart, and it's been very good to us. We want to give back too,” McCready said.

Now the band has brought together more than 140 organizations to raise nearly $12 million for the cause.

The effort comes at a time when Seattleites seem to be feeling peak frustration about homelessness, calling for the repeal of a business head tax even with the crisis worse than ever.

Restaurateur Ethan Stowell says Pearl Jam’s way is the way to go.

“It’s got to be a collaborative plan, it can’t just be City Hall saying hey you’re doing this, or you’re paying for this. It really has to get the brightest minds together. And I think in the spirit of partnership, money will flow – just as you’re seeing on this event,” Stowell said.

Starbucks is also donating up to a half-million dollars.

A specially created Pearl Jam wine, which sold out in 12 minutes, raised about $70,000.

“It’s incredible. It really exceeded our expectations,” said Mark McNeilly, owner of Mark Ryan Winery. He teamed up with Trey Busch work on The Underground Wine Project and create the wine.

There is more money coming, too: More than 80 Seattle-area restaurants have pledged to donate 10 percent of their proceeds tonight, including Stowell’s restaurants.

“I’m a fan of Pearl Jam and I’ll be honest, I’m an even bigger fan of what they’re doing, so that makes (me) a fan even more,” Stowell said.

After the second home show Friday, Pearl Jam's advisory panel will decide how to allocate the donations to King County nonprofits and agencies that work on ending homelessness.

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