Marco Benevento – The Story of Fred Short

 Marco Benevento ‎– The Story of Fred Short

Marco Benevento ‎– The Story of Fred Short

The Story of Fred Short is Marco Benevento’s newest release on his own label The Royal Potato Family.   I’m not sure I would understand Marco’s music as well if I had not heard him perform live a while ago at The Stone Pony in New Jersey. I’ve been trying to catch another live show ever since.  He ‘plays’ his computer and keyboard along with his band, however, there is more to it than that.  I can’t stop listening to it.

Hypnotic dance beats paired with piano chords, electronic percussive loops alongside drum kits and guitars.  If I really deconstruct it all, which I’m conflicted about, this is a kind of new, experimental jazz.  So, I’ll leave it there for now and suggest that Marco is a skilled player who likes to make his own music and follow his creative intelligence which is, I guess,  is why I started listening to him in the first place.  And also why I suggest you listen in as well.

His stage persona is also endearing: oversized top hat, black pinstripe suit, big sun-glasses, oversized red flower on the label. I have to admit, I was thrown back for the first half hour to the way I felt when I first saw Elton John. The skill set is there for Marco and possibly too some hint at his early inspiration.  I can only guess though by my own reactions to the costume.  Would I be lying if I said Elton John weren’t also some kind of stage magician?  I think Marco is too in a very unique, special, and different way which may hint at why his costume is a bit askew, ill-fitting, wrinkled, stained?  Performance artist too?  Why not? There is something off about the costume – something old and new at the same time.  Once you listen, you get that.

What do I like best about the new release? Mmm – the music with the lyrics.  It’s always about the words and how they are paired with the music with me. I am a word girl and I do like my narrative line in whatever form I can get it. For example, that tune “Witches of Ulster” with that bass chord in that specific moment in the song.  This is an example of songwriting and creative intelligence of which I speak.  Marco’s talent been allowed to follow its leanings and its desires to the end.  And, at the same time, there is a narrative element that is engaging and wholly comprehensive if you can get there, the micro-world has been deeply imagined, written, and put to music.  And this is what you will find in The Story of Fred Short.  However,  if you are a ‘reader’ you have to let go of those demands of well, everything, everything academic that is.  This ain’t a book.  There is little by way of a specific narrator, plot development, or dialogue to hold this one together.

However, what you will get, beginning with the first track, is a playful invitation to Marco’s (or is it Fred’s) dream state, with that anticipatory longing to see someone.  The idea of time expands in “It’s hard to leave the countryside,” a line that hints at the central conflict: things that endure over things that collapse.  The idea of loss continues in “Dropkick” as the possibility of leaving not just the countryside widens into the ending of meaningful relationships with others.  These first four songs seem to transition into The Story of Fred Short proper .which begins right after “Heavy Metal Floating” a funky, synth-based far-out meditation. Meanwhile, I am dancing all the way through rather than crying which speaks volumes of Marco’s attention to rhythm and percussive detail while ‘the reader’ is left to consider whether or not Fred’s story is a comedy or a tragedy. But that whole question becomes mute as the next portion of the CD becomes more about dynamics and seamless transitions from one song to the next rather than a ‘story’, except for “Walking with Tyrone” which has a definite end.  I could spend all day here explaining this stuff, but why?  Marco Benevento is top-shelf – creative, intelligent, committed, skilled, musically generous. Go see him live, now!

Royal Potato Family