Local musician Jeff Benko has never been short on friends. Whether he’s playing his trademarked skuzzy, intellectualized brand of radio rock on the road with Jonathan Richman or goofing around with bar-band-greats NRBQ, Benko has a knack for making buddies.
On Saturday, Oct. 17, Benko’s friends at the Grog Shop
will host a benefit show for the longtime former employee, who’s currently fighting advanced dilated cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease in which the heart muscle becomes rigid, enlarged and weakened.
The show, which features acts such as John Koury (The Infidels), the Lawton Brothers and the Banging Fragiles, is a part of a team effort put together by Benko’s closet friends and family to raise the funds needed for his continued treatment.
“Jeff and I were co-workers at the Euclid Tavern for a couple of years in the late '90s,” recalls Ron Kretsch, who plays in the local indie rock act Banging Fragiles. “He worked in the bar, and I was involved in the concerts end of things. He was one of my absolute favorite people to hang out with in those days.”
Fond memories of Benko come to light immediately when you ask those who know the 46-year-old guitarist.
“I first met Jeff back in the ‘90s when he came into our former shop on Coventry road in Cleveland Heights,” says Pete Gulyas, who co-owns Blue Arrow Records in Cleveland with his wife Debbie. “We soon struck a casual friendship which later blossomed to a more meaningful one.”
In recent months, as Benko’s condition has worsened, those around him have started a GoFundMe campaign
which has raised nearly $3,500 since July, most of which has gone towards paying for his treatment, only a small portion of which is covered by Medicaid.
“Jeff has been involved with the Cleveland music scene since the ‘90s and has touched many lives,” said Gulyas. “Over the years, the music scene have rallied to help others need. Now it is Jeff's turn to receive some help.”
Doors open at 7 p.m.