Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009

Eric Benet Gets the Old Band Back Together

By Evan Rytlewski
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Though Milwaukee native Eric Benet doesn't perform too many shows around here anymore, he'll make a rare appearance at the Pabst Theater on Sept. 18. Unfortunately, the circumstances behind the concert are sad ones. Benet's friend Beccee Smith—a singer who performed with Benet in his first late-'80s band, Gerard—has been diagnosed with stage three lung cancer, despite being a non-smoker. Benet will return to Milwaukee as part of a Gerard reunion and fundraiser for Smith.

Though Benet was the group's most famous alum, Gerard was a launching pad for many local musicians, including Amy Schultz of Framing Amy, Lisa Jordon of In Black and White, producer Kevin Sucher and guitarist Johnny Johnson, who went on to play with Earth, Wind and Fire.

Benet's ties to Smith were particularly deep. The two dated for years, and Smith was largely the songwriting inspiration for Benet's first two albums.

Others who will be performing at the Sept. 18 "Reunion for Beccee Concert" include Greg Gerard (One Ton Banana), Keedy (Arista Recording Artist, Royce & Keedy), Tony Roland (Jukebox Heros), Mike Heidemann (Hot Sauce), Todd Dunst (Beat Crazy, Rhythm Method), Bobby Rouse (Rhythm Method, Light Up), George Nash, Ann Kramer,  Kevin Baumann (Rhythm Method, Light Up), Bill Guralski (Sweet Tarts), Lon Wall (Rhythm Kings), Nancy Gouin (Brian McLaughlin Band) Jill Tate (Sociables), Jai Cherney (HippyChicks & the Funk Mob), Steve Fry (Rhythm Method, Light Up) and Angelo Petropoulos (Sweet Tarts).

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