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Loose and lively, Hot Stove benefit hits the $1 million mark

Music and sports lovers packed the Paradise on Sunday for Hot Stove, Cool Music, a fund-raiser for the Jimmy Fund and former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein's A Foundation to Be Named Later. The sixth annual rock-and-jock marathon, which at nearly five hours tested the mettle of even the most rabid fans, featured sets from the cream of Boston's music scene as well as live and silent auctions that pushed the event's fund-raising efforts to date past the $1 million mark.

Beer-guzzling MC Mike O'Malley, costar of the CBS sitcom ''Yes, Dear," kept the festivities loose and irreverent. When a recent divorcee spent a chunk of her settlement on several big-ticket items to benefit children's charities, O'Malley announced that ''divorce is good for kids!" When he tried to bamboozle Kay Hanley into putting her awesome suede boots on the block, the singer agreed on one condition: that Peter Gammons model them in his tighty whities. He didn't, but the ESPN commentator -- who's currently holed up at Q Division studios recording his debut CD with producer Mike Denneen -- did trot out model roots-rock with help from the Gentlemen, Buffalo Tom frontman Bill Janovitz, and keyboardist Phil Aiken.

Collaborations weird and wonderful abounded. Red Sox pitchers Lenny DiNardo and Bronson Arroyo joined Juliana Hatfield for a lackluster cover of Bad Company's ''Feel Like Makin' Love" -- a minor distraction from the soft-spoken guitar goddess's otherwise galvanizing performance. Hatfield bassist Ed Valauskas filled in heroically (on two days' notice) with Nada Surf, Hot Stove first-timers whose bright, chiming set was a slice of alt-pop euphoria.

Also new this year was the rising young four-piece Furvis, which is growing in creative leaps and bounds and on Sunday proved itself the rightful heir to Boston's signature, sweet-and-sloppy garage-rock tradition. Hanley, whose move to Los Angeles clearly suits her, appeared in flaxen Princess Leia hair mounds and fine musical form. She debuted a couple of sun-drenched new tunes -- including ''Cellars by Starlight," inspired by The Boston Phoenix column of the same name, and ''It Hurts" -- alongside the Letters to Cleo gem ''Sparklegirl."

Evergreen local rock heroes Buffalo Tom, dubbed Buffalo Theo in tribute to its second guitarist, played an incendiary show with cameos from guitarists Mike Gent and Dick Watson, the shell-shocked-looking high bidder in last year's Hot Stove auction to join the band onstage for a song. Gent then led his own band, the Gentlemen, in a set of Stones-saturated, straight-up rock 'n' roll.

New Sox recruits Craig Hansen and Jonathan Papelbon made frequent appearances during the between-set auctions to encourage bidding.

Arroyo closed the show with his well-worn collection of '90s grunge and alt-rock covers, updating the familiar repertoire with a timely, expletive-strewn aside lamenting Johnny Damon in pinstripes.

Joan Anderman can be reached at

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