Benefit concert honors the late Mark Hansen

MANCHESTER — The Dorset Playhouse will be rockin' on Saturday, Nov. 4 for a benefit concert honoring the late Mark Hansen of Dorset, who passed away unexpectedly this past August.

The benefit, organized by the Emmy Award-winning composer and multi-instrumentalist Freddi Shehadi, will not only honor Hansen's memory, but benefit his wife and five children as well.

"Mark was a good friend of mine, we had a really heart-and-soul kind of relationship," Shehadi said. "He was a true friend through and through, and took care of his family, but he also had a great sense of humor, and he knew how to have fun. And he loved rock and roll."

The benefit will feature an all-star cast of musicians headlining as "Freddi Shehadi and The Expressions." The show will create a mesmerizing musical tapestry, according to organizers, weaving together elements from a wide array of genres including soulful rock, blues, jazz, Americana, pop, and finger-style guitar. Performances will blend soon to be released original compositions, and fresh interpretations of well-loved tunes.

The band will bring together luminaries like Bill Ware (Steely Dan/Jazz Passengers), Mark Spencer (Lisa Lobe/Son Volt), Baron Raymonde (Rod Stewart/Blues Brothers), Tom Major (Carly Simon/Bo Diddley), Peter Primamore on keys, singer/artists Krista Speroni and Katy Dwyer, and acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Danny Garcia.

The high-caliber group of musicians will also be joined by local performers, with the possibility of "a few surprises," as well according to organizers.

"The spirit of this, the mission, is to make a nice musical evening," Shehadi said. "Mark loved rock and roll, but this won't be just rock and roll. We'll be playing a wider spectrum of genres."

"It is truly awesome to have talent of this magnitude coming to our area. So many incredible performers together on the same stage will be a dazzling night for music lovers," said Dorset's Bill Laberge, owner of Grassroots Solar and SolarFest Board member. "This will be a rare treat."

For Shehadi, the lineup includes many musicians that he's worked with in the past, and considers to be close friends.

"The band itself feels like a family too, because I've known them all at different parts of my career and different parts of my life," he said. "Bringing them all together under one roof will be a special thing for us as a group. It's extra special to be able to curate a night like this with this kind of talent and friendship."

Concert-goers can expect a rousing night of music, Shehadi noted, as well as a few heartfelt moments throughout the community collaboration.

"I think I'll speak a little bit about my friendship with Mark, and I may try to crack a few jokes, but there will be plenty of people in the audience who won't be afraid to tell me to stop talking and play," Shehadi said. "You can expect some world class musicianship — guys that are just so proficient at what they do. They're just great; high caliber."

The night is a fitting tribute to Hansen, who made an impact on many member of the Dorset community, he noted.

As a reflection of that impact, a number of local businesses and organization are supporting the benefit, including Vermont Country Store, The Perfect Wife, Barrow's House, Manchester Village School, H.N. Williams General Store, Northshire Bookstore, Dorset Rising, Dorset Union Store, Waite Excavation, Lakes Lampshade, Nature's Market, Vermont Kitchen Supply, Grassroots Solar, and Heartworks, along with individual donors.

"Because of the nature of our relationship, because of the way we worked together, it brought us closer together," Shehadi said. "It had all of the good things that a close friendship would have. Mark was a light in our community. We celebrate his life with this show, and always."

The Dorset Playhouse doors will open for the benefit concert at 6:30 p.m., with a 7:30 p.m. curtain time. Tickets will be available at the door for $25, or at the Northshire Bookstore in advance, though no one will be turned away for lack of funds. For more information call 802-867-5570.

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.


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