Author: Elias Benavides

Elias Benavides

A goofy kid from Buffalo's lower west side who loved to play the guitar and loved live music. Has moved on to sound engineering, stage lighting, anything live music. Now he's writing about musicians on BR too. Why am I talking in the third person?

This past March, I was working an event at Kleinhans, where I had a conversation with a group of people. One of them mentioned guitarist and songwriter Vincent Bonelli. The chat piqued my interest, and in the coming days, I checked out some of his work. Those same coming days also brought a shutdown of our economic and social structure, which continues to linger. Therefore, priorities changed, and this story went on the shelf. As musicians adapt to an ever-changing societal landscape, many continue to plough through and produce new music. When I saw that Vincent was about to release…

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Often times, with these “Backstage” features, the subject at hand is poised to take leaps professionally. For drummer Steve Padin though, he just did it, and right out of the gate too. The KenTon area native has found himself performing all around the world, for several acts, and for his own groups. At 34, he now finds himself back in Buffalo, and excited about the musical direction of his hometown. This year, Steve hooked up with longtime Buffalo favorites “The Strictly Hip.” But just as that union was about to fly, the entertainment industry, along with virtually every aspect of…

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Last night, after a few grueling days of diving in head first into a home renovation project, I decided to check out The Strictly Hip at The Tralf. Ordinarily, this would be a given on a Friday night, a rock and roll show in the heart of the city, at a legendary concert club. Sounds like fun. But we continue living in these not so ordinary times. Just as a disclosure, the members of Strictly Hip and I have many years of history, but business often keeps us from attending each other’s events. With business being slowed to a crawl,…

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A few years ago, at The Evening Star in Niagara Falls, I had the pleasure of working a show with a bill included the now defunct Buffalo band Dirty Smile. The group was all original and most certainly high energy, fronted by Megan Brown. I was a bit disappointed to hear they disbanded some time later, as I thought they had enough going for them, that they might at least see the fringes of a national circuit. For what I thought they had, and they had plenty to like, it was Megan’s performance that stood out to me. A powerful…

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A couple of people had mentioned the John Daniels Band to me in recent months, so I decided to look a little deeper into the group. The music definitely caught my attention, prompting me to reach out and have a chat with principal songwriter John Verbocy. I learned that Verbocy has been releasing single tracks this year with musicians Drew Azzinaro, and Kevin Urso – Urso on piano and producing the music. Verbocy tells me that he first started singing in church. “I’ve been singing my whole life, my father too,” says the 34 year old singer/songwriter from Lockport, NY.…

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This Friday, a fundraiser event will be held at Town Ballroom for Buffalo guitarist Michael DiSanto, who suffered a life altering stroke earlier this summer. Michael is a full time musician, and has remained hospitalized since this happened. Needless to say, the longterm medical care comes with a financial cost. Musician Geno McManus has been at the forefront of the fundraising efforts since day one. He, along with other close confidants Eric Crittenden and JJ Moscato, have worked tirelessly to raise over $30,000 through a GoFundMe page, and gig tips from musicians and venues. Listen to heartfelt words from Ian…

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A dear friend and fellow Buffalo musician Michael Disanto suffered a major stroke recently, which has affected the ability to use the left side of his body. Michael is originally from Batavia, but has made the Buffalo area his home for a number of years now. As a guitar player, he has flourished in the r&b/funk scene. He is a major player in the Buffalo music scene, and is instrumental over the last 15 years or so in helping elevate the Buffalo r&b community from the east side to being embraced by mainstream Buffalo and beyond. He helped break barriers…

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A music scene which exists in a rather intriguing state, locally, is the country music scene. It flies under the radar, yet, has always thrived here. Whether it was on a stage from yesteryear – Club Utica, Buckin’ Buffalo – or live music sometimes found at a place like The Sportsmens Tavern (today), it remains a beloved all-American sound, which continues to attract a steady stream of new talent. One of these young talents is songwriter, Jillian Eliza. Jillian has been on the scene for about a decade. We have had the opportunity to work together a number of times.…

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Having worked with Johnny Hart for many years, with several groups, I have grown a deep appreciation for his musicianship, stagemanship, and frontman abilities. A bulk of the work has been with Buffalo based Irish punkpop group Jack Mahone, where his duties are co-lead singer, accordionist, mandolin, whistles. I have also worked with his original group, Johnny Hart and the Mess a handful of times, and always dug the vibe. So when he approached me about an upcoming CD release for the group I was intrigued. The CD, ‘Desertland’ is due to be released this Saturday at a release show…

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About three years ago I was handling the stage production for an event called Vibrations. This event featured live music, art, and creativity produced and performed by, from what I recall, individuals mostly in their teens, and early 20s. One of the artists who performed was a then 19 year old Maya Satterwhite. She came in with her dad, and her guitar. She performed a few original numbers, and left an indelible impression on me. “That was one the first time coming out playing some new songs on my guitar, testing it out,” she said. The 22 year old North…

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