The unmistakable notes from Marco Benevento’s piano rang out in the streets of historic Uptown Kingston on Friday, September 26th. Benevento, who teamed up with bassist Dave Dreiwitz and drummer Andy Borger, played early into Sunday morning to a hyped-up Hudson Valley crowd. With family and friends aplenty to witness the release show for Benevento’s new album, Swift, no one left BSP without an ear-to-ear grin.
The front doors of the large bar/venue were wide open and folks could cool off on the plaza while still enjoying the feel-good tunes wafting outside. Inside, the music was as hot as the air; the trio rocked while joyous admirers filled the hall with dancing bodies. The shaggy piano man led long jams and, in between, held the audience’s attention with captivating asides.
BSP, located in the heart of New York’s first capital, provided an intimate setting for the Ulster County resident to play for a hometown crowd before hitting the road on tour. A few hundred people filled the spacious room, and everyone had a chance to get as close as desired to the semi-raised stage. In the middle of one 20-minute long improv session, Marco eased up on his piano to clap along and start an “AN-DY” chant, ensuring everyone in the building knew exactly who was banging the drums. Andy Borger fed off the cue, turning in a solid drum solo as Marco and Dreiwitz admired in support.
Later in the set, Benevento’s metaphorical nose grew and grew as he covered Money Mark’s “I Don’t Play Piano,” belting out: “I don’t know how to play piano; I don’t know how to sing.” For over a decade, the world has been aware of his mastery of the piano; the new album, Swift, features his voice as an additional weapon for the first time, evincing the complete inaccuracy of the lyrics. “DJ” Dave Dreiwitz’s stoic onstage persona never wavered even as he thumped out heavy solos, while Marco’s smile crescendoed with the music.
Though the room at BSP was dark, the music was light and uplifting. They played a poppy brand of improvisational, piano-heavy rock that induced the shimmying horde to raise hands to the heavens in delight. The band and crowd instantly engaged in a symbiotic relationship; fans fed off the musicians’ energy and vice versa. Spirits from the bar were lifted for many “cheers” while spirits were lifted by the sprinkling of melodious piano solos, accompanied by raucous cheers.
Around 1 a.m., the band came out for an encore while nearly everyone remained to show support. Benevento, Dreiwitz, and and Borger hit the road next in support of the album, which will conclude at the Brooklyn Bowl on December 18th and 19th.