Garden State native Marco Benevento is no stranger to Northeast Pennsylvania. He has shared his singing and piano-playing talents with the area since 2004, and continues to come back because of the area’s hospitality.
“The hospitality from (local promoter) Tom Moran is the main reason we come back, “ he said. “He is a great host, and the crowd we play for is great as well. It has been over a year since we played there, so it will be nice to go back.”
Benevento hails from Livingston, New Jersey, and is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, Boston, where the pianist physically received his college diploma from Ziggy Stardust himself: David Bowie.
“I was touched by magic,” he said with a laugh. “It was very cool to shake his hand and have him hand me my diploma. But actually, (saxophonist and composer) Wayne Shorter was another guest speaker at the graduation, and, at the time, I was way more into jazz, so I knew about him. (But) I am going through a big Bowie phase now, so it is cool to look back on.”
Benevento will perform his own blend of psych-jazz-jam rock at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains Twp. on Friday, June 16, when he takes the stage at 10 p.m. to promote his first live record, “Woodstock Sessions.”
“We are playing side A of the album in its entirety,” he said. “We will mix in some older tunes but it will be mostly our newest album. This one has some longer-ended jams in it because we loved recording it. All that energy, the live audience, everything.”
Benevento will belt out the vocals and jam on piano while Karina Rykman strums the bass and Andy Borger pounds out a rhythm on the drums. “Woodstock Sessions” represents a different sound for the trio thanks to Benevento taking on vocal duties.
“I have a little studio next to my house, and after the kids go to bed, from about 10 p.m. to midnight, I turn on everything and just record,” he said. “I sort of just go instead of having something to play, and then I go back and edit what I improvised. Just trim the fat.”
The rock trio finds influence in groups like Gorillaz and the Talking Heads, and feels excited to get back to the Jazz Cafe where everyone is “in your face.”
“We take a bit of that edge, on-your-feet sort of music, and get people dancing,” Benevento said. “We like the Jazz Cafe because it is like we are partying with the people.”
— samantha stanich

If you go
Location: River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 N. River St., Plains Twp.
Date: 10 p.m., Friday, June 16; doors at 8 p.m.
Details: Tickets for the 21-and-over show cost $15, and can be purchased by visiting


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