Topanga’s own homegrown rock band, Forty Feet Tall are, from left, Charlie Sehres, (keyboards), Guy Moore (bass), Will Henley-Dias (drums, rear) Steven Driscoll, (drums, front in the hat), Cole Gann (guitar and vocals) and Jack Sehres (guitar).
Topanga’s own homegrown rock band, Forty Feet Tall are, from left, Charlie Sehres, (keyboards), Guy Moore (bass), Will Henley-Dias (drums, rear) Steven Driscoll, (drums, front in the hat), Cole Gann (guitar and vocals) and Jack Sehres (guitar). Photo By Annemarie Donkin ©2013

Topanga Messenger Article – By Annemarie Donkin


The sun broke through on a breezy afternoon when Topanga Youth Services (TYS) hosted four exciting, up-and-coming local rock bands for an inaugural outdoor festival on April 13.



Topanga’s very own homegrown band, Forty Feet Tall (formally Ote for President) headlined a concert that included the amazing Steel Toed Slippers, Baby Fleas and Stellar Sons & Daughters.

In between the sets at the Topanga ball field, the music continued with three beautiful and fabulously talented singer/songwriters, Poeina Suddarth, Maya Bon and Soren Bryce.

Overall it was a mellow vibe as Baby Fleas began the concert with a set of original tunes.

While the youthful fans sat on the ground or on blankets, adults brought lawn chairs and umbrellas. Kids played Frisbee and kicked a soccer ball on the lawn. After awhile, no one could resist: everyone was on their feet dancing to the head banging music as Steel Toed Slippers ripped through a set of original songs with some Led Zeppelin thrown in.


As a fundraiser, Topanga Youth Services sold drinks, t-shirts and CDs of the featured bands.

Mimosa Café and Rising Hearts Bakery provided delectable food for the event.

I personally indulged in sandwiches, cupcakes and Edie Irwin’s luscious homemade molasses and lemon cookies.

The concert was the brainchild of TYS Director Karen Cooke and Topanga's own sound producer, Glenn Gaines of G2 Sound, Inc.

“The way it came about was when I got my PA system back,” Gaines said. “But the thing I am most responsible for is the name, 455 Live.”

With that, he got back to his mixing board as Forty Feet Tall took the stage.

“It’s been the most fun, most challenging and we are grateful for the community support,” said event organizer Susan Moore. “We wanted to do something with the local kids and their bands.”

Karen Cooke agreed; she wanted to create an event to bring her 10-17-year-old TYS kids together to create an all-inclusive rock concert.

As a theatre director, Cooke has the kids help produce plays and musicals.

“Many of these are home school kids and this gives them experience in doing theatre,” Cooke said. “We have a talent show and a fall fundraiser that has become a Topanga tradition, as well as a fair in the summer, but we don’t just do theatre. We wanted to bring all Topanga kids together somewhere.”

That was evident by the numbers of young people participating, either by volunteering or enjoying the performances.

“It’s a good time,” said Luke Benson, 16, who attends Palisades High and volunteered to sell T-shirts and CDs for TYS. “It’s a good thing to give local bands recognition.”


“We’ve known each other our whole lives; we were home schooled and have been together as a band for about two years;” said Jack Sehres, who plays guitar in Forty Feet Tall. “We are all about the environment and social activism and 90 percent of our songs are original.”

The band changed its name from Ote for President after playing at a Long Beach Metal festival. While coming off the stage, Cole Gann, who plays guitar and sings, said that the high was so great that he felt as if he were “forty feet tall.”

Tickets were $10 with proceeds to benefit Topanga Youth Services.

Local sponsors included Café Mimosa, Topanga Community Club, Randy Just, Theatricum Botanicum, So What Surf, Yoga Desa, Rising Hearts Bakery, Rhodes Brothers Electric, Topanga General Store and Jalan Jalan.


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