For the Benefit of Mr Dee

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Dee
An Evening of Rock & Roll Storytelling and Song Honoring Mikey Dee
Presented Wednesday, May 3, 2000
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AXIS 13 LANSDOWNE STREET, BOSTON

Featued Gary Cherone, Kay Hanley, Peter Moore, Mick Maldonado, David Minehan, Linda Viens, Gene Dante, John Surette, Brian Gottesman, Lynette Estes, T Max, Holly Sugar and many others performing excerpts from BRO’s rock opera repertory, including The Who’s mini-opera A Quick One While He’s Away, excerpts from Jesus Christ Superstar, Preservation, Tommy and SF Sorrow and songs chosen for their significance to Mikey.

BRO’s presentation was the opening night event of a 5 night music series featuring some of the biggest names in the Boston rock scene. All proceeds supported the Mikey Dee Musician’s Benefit Trust established to assist with medical and living expenses while Mikey recovers from a devastating brainstem stroke suffered on Feb 7, 2000. The entire event raised $eleanor,000. The Trust’s long-term goal is to provide fund assistance for other musicians who suffer catastrophic events.

Show Highlights | More details/full schedule | Benefit Press Release | Review from Boston Soundcheck | Review from the Noise

The Festival: "FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. DEE" MAY 3 – 7, 2000 — 5 Nights of Music and Love — FEATURED 26 SHOWS FEATURED 90+, BANDS INCLUDING: LETTERS TO CLEO, ANGRY SALAD, THE PUSH STARS, THE SHEILA DEVINE, BABALOO, ORBIT, SUPERHONEY, THE GRAVEL PIT, QUINTAINE AMERICANA, VOODOO DOLLS, SLIDE, THE STRANGEMEN, MERRIE AMSTERBURG, SEKS BOMBA, BABY RAY, THE OUTLETS, MARY LOU LORD AND MANY MORE! DETAILS AT: WWW.MIKEYDEE.COM

Abbey Road

Boston Rock Opera performed the this amazing Beatles¬†recording, live in concert, as a Special Event to benefit the Mikey Dee Musician’s Trust¬†(mikeydee.org)

Featuring (vocalists): Chris Mascara, Peter Moore, Mick Maldonado, John Surette, Gary Cherone, Valerie Forgione, Linda Viens, Gene Dante, Brian Gottesman, Bleu, T Max, Corin Ashley, Christine Zuffery, Bree Greig, Paula Morris, Sally Tezlaff, Elaine O’Rourke, Judy Dombrowski, Megan Berry (the musicians): Cathy Capozzi, Mike Loce, Mick Maldonado, T Max: guitars; Joel Simches, Carol Namkoong: keyboards; Corin Ashley: Bass; Larry Dersch: Drums.

 

BOSTON ROCK OPERA & ACME THEATRE: FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. DEE: May 2000

BOSTON ROCK OPERA/ACME THEATRE
FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. DEE

Axis 5/3/00

The Noise
by Spaghettio Reverso

It’s the first night of the Mikey Dee benefit series, and my senses are overloaded by this unforgettable event. Hundreds of friends, relatives, and lovers of Mikey have gathered here to honor the man who has done so much for so many. The defunct ACME Theatr have regrouped for one night to perform several numbers from past musicals. (Mikey had been an ACME performer a few years back.) Outspoken ACME director DW Martini, dapper in a tux, emcees with drunken bravado, and he always seems to be spilling his drink.

As you might imagine, there is a lot of hamming up tonight, and Mikey gets his share of playful ribbing between songs. There are too many skits and acts to mention them all, but some of the highlights include Ad Frank (The Boy Joys) as Marlon Brando playing Fred Flintstone, and Winston Bramen (Fuzzy) doing an uncanny and hilarious impression of Mayor Tom Menino. Hilken Mancini (Fuzzy) delivers some sweet-sounding vocals, and the entire ACME crew closes out with a rousing original anthem for Mikey. I’m not sure what the title is, but the refrain features a glorious chorus of ACME performers repeating “Mikey Dee, he’s the bravest, the greatest of them all!” In his only serious moment of the night, DW Martini says, “We’re doing this shtick now because this is the shtick Mikey gave us all these years.”

Boston Rock Opera starts out with Mick Maldonado (Mick Mondo) and Kay Hanley (Letters to Cleo) performing “Money Talks” from Ray Davies’ Preservation. Then Peter Moore (Count Zero) sings “Senses Working Overtime” by Andy Partridge of XTC. These songs are visual spectacles. With the band and BRO chorus singers right onstage, there are between ten and twenty people performing at any given moment. T Max (The Noise) introduces the Tommy medley, noting that the rock opera makes him think of Mikey. Then he grabs his backwards guitar, his son Izzy Maxwell (Cannibal Animal and Me) picks up the bass, and the two glide effortlessly through some great echo-laden passages from the rock opera.

The night continues with covers of old favorites, including a powerful rendition of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” a mellow version of The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows,” and three tunes from Ziggy Stardust, featuring vocals by Linda Viens and Gary Cherone. Gary also does an emotional cover of “Love Reign O’er Me” by The Who, singing most of the song with the hood of his raincoat pulled down over his face. But all in all, the songs are group events. When BRO performs a couple of numbers from Jesus Christ Superstar , I count nineteen people onstage. There are twenty-two during A Quick One While He’s Away, a rock operetta by The Who. Pete Sutton is wonderful as Ivor the Engine Driver, wielding a maniacal, bone-chilling cackle that haunts me to this day. Holly Sugar also plays her part well (as Her), ever the temptress in a red pleated camisole. And T Max, as The Mother, doesn’t look all THAT bad in drag. The operetta ends with a sweet and beautiful tune, “You Are Forgiven.” All the while, the backing band play their hearts out. The members change for different songs and there are a host of different musicians, but Matt Thorsen, Bill Bracken, Suzi Lee, and Ethan Mackler are playing most of the time. So is enthusiastic keyboardist Joel Simches, who bobs around like Paul Shaffer with Andy Warhol’s haircut.

Three bands are interspersed among the covers. The Wheelers and Dealers play some mid-paced country tunes. Mike Castolana fills the room with his pedal steel guitar, and singer/guitarist Pat McGrath divulges in his Memphis drawl that he has long been “involved” with Mikey in more ways than one. Wow, Pat! The leather-jacketed Deniros offer a lively rendition of “Rock and Roll” by Velvet Underground, and their go-go dancers earn big points in my book. Then Mick Maldonado transforms into his glam-rock alter ego, Mick Mondo, complete with ridiculous scarf, big collar, and big attitude. He’s joined by the Mondettes (also big points) as he performs the sad and memorable “Roll Away the Stone” and “Do It for the Show,” sounding like David Bowie times two.

The night closes with Beatles songs. Local producer David Minehan is a great performer. He high-steps across stage singing “Getting Better” faithfully and convincingly to the original. Then the whole BRO ensemble and friends, about 30 or 40 people, crowd together to do “All You Need Is Love,” the various stars of the night switching off on lead vocals. By the end of the evening, there’s such a feeling of warmth and of community that it’s impossible not to get caught up in it all. Adam Lewis of Planetary Group, who put together the whole benefit, is brought onstage and thanked heartily by all. As I head out into the street, I feel like I’ve just witnessed a wonderful thing–a true outpouring of love and empathy. It’s wonderfully ironic that an icon of something as specific as the Boston music scene can elicit humanity so large and universal. It’s a rare and special moment, and we probably won’t see anything like this again for a long time to come.

Being for the Benefit of Mr Dee: Soundcheck 05-03-00

Boston Rock Opera Presents: “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Dee”
– Axis, Boston, MA – 5/3/00

Soundcheck Magazine
by Debbie Catalano

May 3, 2000 marked the kickoff to the series of benefits in honor of local music personality Mikey Dee, who is currently recovering from a serious stroke. “For The Benefit Of Mr. Dee” turned out to be an amazing tribute to an individual that has alone given so much to the local music community – with his knowledge, writing, promotions, musicianship, and endless support. Mikey is by far one of the most down-to-earth people in the music industry, and his love of music was returned in this five-day string of shows, all of which were to benefit The Mikey Dee Musician’s Benefit Trust (please see the end of this article for contribution details). Organized primarily by The Planetary Group, WMFO, and The Noise – all organizations that Mikey works for – “For The Benefit Of Mr. Dee” generated over $60,000 for the trust.An active and avid member, fan, and supporter of the Boston Rock Opera, it was perfect to launch the series with “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Dee,” a production by an exceptionally talented crew of individuals. [Please see accompanying story for more on the Boston Rock Opera on page 24.] My initial disorientation of the differently designed interior of Axis (I guess it’s been a few years since I’ve been there!) quickly dissipated once I settled in and absorbed the show. I walked in during Acme Theatre’s All-Star Comedy Salute To Mikey Dee that, though not part of the BRO, was entertaining.

The BRO portion began with a song from Ray Davies’ Preservation, “Money Talks,” which featured BRO founder and regular performer Mick Maldonado and Letters To Cleo’s Kay Hanley, who initially made her first BRO appearance in 1994’s Jesus Christ Superstar – a great beginning to the evening. But before getting into the various performances, it must be noted that throughout the entire night it was made clear that this was for Mikey. A camera recorded the entire show and often performers spoke to Mikey directly (I know that a few days later he was shown the video in his hospital room and I can only imagine knowing Mikey that he was humbly touched by this tribute while thoroughly enjoying every second of the music). Never for a minute did the spirit of this show nor the seriousness of the issue dissolve.

Spliced in between the range of theatrical emotions – both the humor and drama – and the tight musical productions and uninhibited rock and roll, were messages to Mikey, including a particularly important interval by T Max where he attempted to quiet down the noisy talking in Axis and have everyone draw their attention to a tiny, glittery disco ball he held hanging from his finger. It was here that he entreated the audience to focus all their healing energy on this ball from which he intended to bring to Mikey in the hospital. Though the gesture inappropriately elicited a misguided chuckle from the audience, T was anything but joking… to collectively bring everyone to a silence (or as silent as one could with a club of that capacity) and focus their thoughts on Mikey was a powerful moment. However you took that, or whatever means you chose to use that moment was up to you (I myself took it as an opportunity to send Mikey some prayers); regardless it reminded everyone what this show was about.Overall the evening was alive with the brilliance of the music and the spirit and energy of the performers. “Money Talks,” was followed by “Senses Working Overtime” by Andy Partridge/XTC, and then a rockin’, amazing Tommy medley featuring Peter Moore, John Surrette, Lynette Estes, Gene Dante, Kaci Carr Foster, and the BRO Chorus, and musicians Mick Maldonado on acoustic guitar, Matt Bogdanow on drums, the behind-the-scenes vocals of Gary Cherone, and T Max on guitar with his son Izzy Maxwell on bass. It was a rousing presentation, and one of the highlights of the evening.

Kay Hanley returned with the next tune, Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” along with Lynette Estes and Peter Moore on vocals, with the BRO Chorus. Followed by The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” (Brian Gottesman on vocals), “Walking Through My Dreams” from the rock opera SF Sorrow by The Pretty Things (Linda Bean, Peter Moore on vocals), and then two tracks from the popular Jesus Christ Superstar, “Heaven on Their Minds” and “Everything’s Alright.” This segment was another highlight of the night as it brought back together 1994 cast members Kay Hanley as Mary Magdalene and Gary Cherone – only this time around he played Judas, while Gene Dante played Jesus. I distinctly recall Gary’s emotional, inspiring ’94 performance of Jesus and wondered what it would be like to see him on “the other side”… he was just as stirring as the “bad guy” Judas, purveying every ounce of raw passion vocally and physically, utterly captivating in his presence. Gene Dante’s portrayal of Jesus was more on the peaceful side, a bit restrained but his role was supposed to be gentle, so it was a good balance.

The audience was then treated to a few songs by the bands The Wheelers and Dealers first with their twangy rock and then The Deniros who presented “Rock and Roll” by The Velvet Underground. Excellent job by both groups.

The BRO Chorus and cast returned with The Who’s “A Quick One While He’s Away,” an animated performance that with its choreography and arrangements reminded me of a movie musical. Holly Sugar, Gary Cherone, Pete Sutton, Mick Mondo, T Max, Linda Viens, Kaci Carr Foster, and the BRO Chorus played roles, while Matt Thorsen on guitar, Bill Bracken on bass, and Steve Whitcomb on drums provided the music.Lack of space prevents me from going into great detail on all the songs, but I must mention that “Infinity Forever” by Butterscott followed, then three tunes from David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust then another three songs by Mick Mondo and Streaker.

Gary Cherone then once again commanded the stage with a riveting rendition of The Who’s “Love Reign O’er Me” from Quadrophenia. The intensity of his performance and heavy power of the song was an excellent, even segue to the bright, encouraging closers – The Beatles’ “Getting Better” and “All You Need Is Love.” “Getting Better” was lead by current producer and former Neighborhood David Minehan. David’s smooth, effervescent vocals and fluent, charismatic stage presence left me desiring more songs by this talented performer.

Lending to the overall great vibes of this performance were Peter Moore, Linda Viens, and Lynette Estes, who were soon joined by the entire ensemble for the uplifting – and appropriate – “All You Need Is Love”… one could not help but feel touched at this point. Encouraging all in attendance to join in the chorus of “All you need is love” made us all feel a part of this special evening. The love for a friend, for Mikey – whether you know him or not – just emanated from the stage and flowed into your heart.I would say The Boston Rock Opera and “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Dee” accomplished what it set out to do – to honor (and entertain) Mikey Dee, to spread and create the good vibes via all the soulfully good intentions behind the performances, to bring awareness to Mikey’s needs, to raise money, and to unite all of us – fellow music industry people, fans, friends. I commend all involved.Go to www.rockopera.com for a complete list of the entire cast and crew from that evening.