arco Benevento took advantage of a few days off of touring with Brazilian psychedleic-jazz band, Os Mutantes, to play some solo shows in Northern California and Portland, Oregon in August 2023. Benevento entered the public eye when his debut 2008 album Invisible Baby was nominated for the Independent Music Awards Jazz Album of the Year but I heard him play at North Coast 2015 in Chicago with a band called Joe Russo's Almost Dead.

I had no idea about deadhead culture at the time and was sort of weirded out by these super jammy drawn out country-type ballads. After a quick google search, I realized this was one of the most prominent Grateful Dead cover bands in the U.S. and Marco Benevento was the keyboardist. He also opened for Phil Lesh & Friends as the Benevento/Russo Duo, (a jazz group with Joe Russo) and played with Phil Lesh himself at an impromptu session at Terrapin Crossroads in 2012!

When he announced a solo show at Portland's Jack London Revue, I knew it was going to be a doozy. His simple setup consisted of an amplifier, microphone, some pedals, and a keyboard. To many these are musical tools and instruments but to Benevento it is a vehicle to the mystic dimension we all gravitate to when we hear a comforting melody or a hauntingly beautiful chord.

As he began to play, a symphony of sounds emerged from the stage and it was shocking to think all those sounds came from one man. His otherworldy solos give vibrant life to the pre-recorded drum loops that act as a platform where Benevento can musically catapult from. His sound is hypnotic and it seems to have an effect on him as well as he weaves his body through the melody.

After a riveting first set, Benevento found an old grand piano near the bar of the Jack London Revue. He decided to turn this sit-down dinner party show into a 1920s bar sing along spectacle with the crowd surrounding him, creating a sort of intimate human amphitheater. It would have passed as decoration to most but he made those wooden legs dance and created beauty in those keys. Make sure to follow Royal Potato (Benevento's Label) & catch Marco Benevento if he rolls through your town!

Photos by
Pedro Acosta