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Hot 20: Backstage at Brad Paisley and Ellen DeGeneres’ Heartfelt Benefit

All-New CMT Hot 20 Countdown on May 19-20 Spotlights Santa Barbara Benefit Concert for Thomas Fire and Mudslide Victims

Brad Paisley may hang his hat in Tennessee.

But over the weekend, he made a special trip to one of his homes away from home to put on a special benefit concert with Ellen DeGeneres at the Santa Barbara Bowl in California.

Saturday’s (May 13) sold-out show supported those impacted by the Southern California Thomas Fire and the mudslides that hit Montecito in January. Beneficiaries included the Farmer’s Market, Unity Shop, Santa Barbara Shine and Montecito YMCA.

Billed as “The 2nd Responders” presented by Boot Barn and supported by ACM Lifting Lives, the concert included a performance by 15-year-old Lauren Cantin, who sang a cover of Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire.” Cantin is a survivor of the mudslides and considered an inspiration to many. The Santa Barbara and Montecito Fire Departments were also in attendance and joined Paisley for his encore.

Backstage, Paisley told CMT Hot 20 Countdown’s Cody Alan he and DeGeneres each own homes in the same neighborhood, and he mentioned it was important to them to continue to support the local recovery efforts in the area.

“This is such a great getaway,” Paisley told Cody Alan, “and I love so many things about it, and that’s what’s been so devastating is watching this place suffer in a way that nobody expected.

“It reminded me of what happened in Nashville in 2010 with our flood. We had this thing out of the blue, which turned what is usually an idyllic place to live into what felt like a war zone.”

Paisley added that getting DeGeneres involved in the benefit was an automatic, “Yes,” on her part. And like good neighbors, they looked out for one another when the Thomas Fire and mudslides first hit the region.

“She and I were in contact throughout texting each other, ‘What have you heard? And what’s going to happen? Are we in danger?’ And then when it all went through I just kept thinking I want to do something.”

Paisley also staged several pop-up meet-and-greets while in California. In Santa Barbara, he visited the gelato shop, Scoop, the comic book store, Metro Comics, and the French Press coffee shop. On Sunday, he performed at SOHO, a local restaurant and music club in Santa Barbara. He announced this set from the stage Saturday night and tickets were sold out within minutes with proceeds going to local charities.

Get full coverage from the 2nd Responders concert and Paisley’s full Hot 20 interview on an all-new episode airing Saturday and Sunday (May 19-20) at 9 a.m. ET.

Here are a few snapshots from Paisley’s meet-and-greet at the French Press: