Over the years I’ve helped to organize a number of events in Buffalo, from the inaugural Powder Keg Festival to the annual The Witches Ball. Each one of these events requires a live music component, which sounds like a lot of fun, but it’s actually quite a headache. There are so many details that go into throwing a festival, especially when it comes to the actual music performances. From wireless mics, to building stages, to setting up speakers and monitors, and everything in-between. By the end of a stage set up, the mechanicals can look like something right out of a Borg spaceship, complete with miles and miles of winding component cords. Then there are the countless requests and questions from the musicians regarding sound, the backline, the room, power, etc. The checklist goes on and on.
One of the best thing about running events, to me, is that I don’t have to deal with the live music end of things, except for helping to hunt down the acts that fit the vibe of the event or festival. Instead, I leave the operational end to my friend Elías Damián Benavídes who takes care of everything, soup to nuts. Never have I once had to remind Elias to get his s#@t together, because he’s a consummate professional who takes care of his side of the business, whether he’s working alongside me and my crew, or any other event planner.
“Since I was a little boy, I had a passion for live concerts and entertainment,” says Elias. “It has always stayed with me. There was always a greatness about it that I’ve pursued, and continue to do so. A sort of magic that exists between the artists, crew, and audience, and energy we all plug into together. That is the thrill. Looking to achieve that every time, and making sure the next generation of musicians have that opportunity to perform on the best stages, the next generation of audiences have the best concert experience, whether it is at your local tavern, or largest hall. To be able to do that in Buffalo has always been important to me. To complete the greatness the Buffalo music scene is capable of. To be able to pass that attitude on to the next generation means everything to me, my mission.”
In a crappy twist of fate, Elias was recently diagnosed with diverticulitis, a gastrointestinal condition that affects the colon. The result was serious damage to his sigmoid colon. The diseased section has since been removed, but it has left Elias with mounting medical bills, and now his family is paying the price. A second surgery to reattach the colon is due in late November, which means that additional expenses are on the way. Even worse, Elias is out of work for the most part, due to the heavy demands of this type of strenuous work. His kids are helping him to tackle the remaining gigs on his schedule, but the immediate future is questionable when it comes to supporting his family.
For as long as I have known Elias, he has been passionately driven by his love for his friends, his music (he is also a musician), his work, and Buffalo. There is no other person that I can think of that is so loyal and hardworking, who also has such a good sense of humor and outlook on life. In the past, he has bent over backwards, and jumped through hoops, to accommodate anyone who ever sought him out to work an event. Now, I’m hoping that all those people come to support him at a fundraiser on Sunday, November 11, from 4pm to 8pm at his favorite neighborhood hangout – Parkside Meadow, 2 Russell St, Buffalo, New York 14214. The event has been posted to Facebook.
Maybe you’re a fan of music, or Buffalo. Maybe you have worked alongside Elias. Or maybe you simply want to help out someone in need, who has done great things for this city. If you are a musician, maybe you played with Elias? Heck, Elias might have even written an article on your band in his Buffalo Rising segment, Backstage with Elias.
Personally, Elias has helped to make my own Buffalo experience truly one of limitless possibilities. Through his encouragement, his love of music, and his steadfast fortitude, I can not imagine this city without him, or my life without him. And guess what? He’s never done it for the money. He’s done it because he’s passionate about everything that he does. I’ve seen him work gigs for free, because he believed in a musician, or felt that a fledgling event would be good for Buffalo. He always maintained the belief that what comes around goes around. The stronger the city, the more we will all benefit. As we can see, things have now come around to him, and it’s our turn to take care of the guy that has taken care of so many of our own.
The event asks for a $25 donation, and will include food, and an open mic, featuring many from Elias’ musical family. There will also be a silent auction, raffles, 50/50, and a cash bar. Join family, friends, and musicians alike. You can purchase tickets at the Parkside Meadow, or just show up at the event and donate at the door.
Lead image by Paul Fanara