Stairway to charity

The Led Zeppelin tribute band ZOSO will provide the soundtrack for “An Evening Under the Stars,” a two-night fundraiser at CADOBAZ: Culture, Arts and Dining of Bazetta.

The event has a serious goal – to raise money for the Avamar Foundation and its efforts to pay for prescription medication for elderly Mahoning Valley residents who can’t afford it. But Dr. Farid Naffah, who started the event six years ago, also is determined to create a special night for those who will pay $175 and $275 to support the cause.

“The stage is just in front of the lake,” Naffah said. “The backdrop is the lake and these tall trees. At night with the lighting display it looks really spectacular.”

Past performers have include guitar wizard Phil Keaggy and Mark Ballas of “Dancing with the Stars.” ZOSO, one of the most successful tribute acts working today, has been an annual attraction for the River Rock at the Amp concert series at the Warren Community Amphitheatre, and Naffah said his friend, Marty Cohen (co-promoter of River Rock), helped him arrange this year’s entertainment.

“We went through a variety of possibilities,” Naffah said. “I picked ZOSO because I like Led Zeppelin, and so do a lot of people”

This year’s event also will showcase the work of artist Ray Simon, a Youngstown native whose paintings have been displayed at the White House, the Capitol, the Pentagon and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Simon’s work will be on display at CADOBAZ, and 10 percent of everything sold will go to the Avamar Foundation.

Guests can browse the art and enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres starting at 5 p.m. before a dinner at 7 p.m. prepared by Michael Alberini.

“There will be Australian lobster tails, filet,” Naffah said. “The food is always excellent and a major feature of the evening.”

Naffah can accommodate up to 320 people each evening. Last year’s event raised $60,000 for the Avamar Foundation, and he said the goal always is to top the previous year. In addition to tickets and art sales, money also is raised through an auction. Naffah still is deciding what to offer for this year, but last year featured autographed guitars from Keaggy and the year before they auctioned off the white shirt Ballas wore to perform, which he borrowed from Naffah.

“We sold the shirt for nine and a half grand,” he said. “It’s fun to do and it gives people who want to donate more an opportunity to do so.”