Although Central New York is not the original birthplace of Benny Mardones, to him it will always be home. This is why at least once a year, Benny will come home to play for those that have supported him throughout the ups and downs of his career. He shares his love of music, with those that love him most, his Central New York family.
It was 2010 when I first met Benny Mardones and learned his personal story of struggle and rebirth. Through the trials and tribulations of his life, he remains ever positive and graciously thankful to those that have helped him along the way. In addition, he always gives back to others as a way to pay it forward. Each year that he plays in Central New York, he also works hand in hand with charities that are near and dear to his heart to help them raise money for their cause. This year was no exception. This year he was able to support and help raise over $5,000 for the Clear Path for Veterans, a non profit agency that assists veterans reintegrate into their community.
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2000, Benny has never let the disease define who he is, or what he will accomplish. Fighting the disease side by side with his loving wife, Jane, they make sure that life is liven to the fullest. It is this attitude and his continuous love of his fellow man that makes me proud to call him my friend.
Despite health concerns, Benny lives for music and wants nothing more than to share this love with his Central New York family. To him, it’s the best medicine possible. So when he said to his wife, he needs to come home, that’s all it took. When he approached his long time friend, Eddie Money, and asked if he could join him on this show, Eddie didn’t flinch. He was there in a heartbeat. How can anyone tell Benny no after all he does for others? The stage was set for a night to remember with dear friends filling the sold out Palace Theater.
Opening the show was Syracuse favorites Hard Promises. These talented musicians are crowd favorites all over New York. Opening the show in true rock and roll style singing a multitude of hits from the 80’s, it was their dedication of “Benny And The Jets” to Benny that set the tone for the night and rocked this sold out/standing room only crowd. Hard Promises definitely set the stage at The Palace Theater priming these adoring fans and getting them up on their feet and signing along into the night.
As Benny’s band began to play, Benny made his way through the masses to take the stage as the cheers from his family resonated throughout the venue. Benny was finally home where he belonged. You could see it in his face. The sheer emotion I witnessed through the entire show moved me beyond words, and brought me to tears. Singing a few new songs from his recently released album, Timeless, a tribute to everything he loves about music. Completely fan funded through a Kickstarter Campaign, and recorded in Syracuse at Subcat Studios with his band, The Hurricanes, as well as a few lucky fans that sang back up, the long awaited project was finally ready to be shared on this night.
Singing fan favorites like “Baby Don’t” and “Way of the World,” Benny also mixed in some new releases as the show began. It was about half way through the show though that Benny relinquished the stage to his life long friend Eddie Money.
This charismatic performer was a joy to watch as he entertained us both musically and comically. Singing favorites “Baby Hold On To Me,” “Walk on Water,” “Take Me Home Tonight,” and “Think I’m in Love,” but it was Benny’s song “The Train Don’t Stop Here Any More,” that touched me the most. As Benny returned to the stage, the two belted out “Two Tickets To Paradise” and Eddie’s son Julian, joined them on drums as they sang, “Shakin.” That brought the crowd to the their feet dancing both on stage and off. As the night wound down, Benny closed with his signatures two songs that fans never let him leave without singing, the famous “Into The Night,” and “Sheila C.”
Although he’s known to his peers as “The Voice, Benny is also a master songwriter. As I listened to the final production of his Timeless album, I’m moved by several of these songs as they are truly written from the heart. As he played the Palace, he shared “Slip Away,” a rock and roll song that showcases his voice to a “t”, and “Me and Johnny Red,” a song about his love and hate relationship with Johnny Walker. But the one song that moves me every time I hear it, is definitely “Heart In My Hand.” He sang…
“I used to be, the kind of man, that had the world in my hand. And all along, I really knew, I loved the crowds, but I lived for you.
Like a fool, I played it wrong, and like the crowds, baby you were gone
And in the end, I used to die, from the same dream, oh every night.
Oh the curtain, starts to fallen, as you fade away aside another man, and I’m standing in the corner, with my heart in my hand.
So many friends, are not around, I need your love, I need it now. Don’t want to loose. Don’t want to be. Just another, another memory.
Oh the curtain, starts to fallen, as you fade away aside another man, and I’m standing in the corner with my heart in my hand.
I’m standing in the corner with my heart…
I used to be, the kind of man, that had the world in my hand “
Benny, from where I’m sitting, you still hold the world in your hands, and you live in the hearts of us all.