Lincoln blues musician Sean Benjamin passed away unexpectedly on Oct. 15. His friend, ex-wife and fellow musician Laurie McClain posted the news to Facebook, “Sadly, my dear friend and former husband, Sean Benjamin, passed away suddenly last night of what appears to be natural causes. He was in relatively good health and spirits when I spoke to him a few days ago.” Services are pending. The Zoo Bar hosts a benefit to help raise funds for Benjamin’s final expenses Sunday, Oct. 26, 2-7 p.m. Benjamin’s family has set up an email address at firstname.lastname@example.org to accept donations via PayPal. Copies of Big Highways, a previously unreleased album by Benjamin, are available for sale at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar.
Benjamin, born in 1955, was one of Lincoln’s most respected blues musicians. He and the late Larry Boehmer, longtime Zoo Bar owner and promoter, played in several bands together through the years from The Heart Murmurs to The Tablerockers to Not All There.
Benjamin’s early years were spent on the upper East Coast where he studied guitar with Paul Lenart (who later joined T-Bone Walker’s band) and Bob Margolin (of Muddy Waters’ band). Benjamin played briefly as lead guitarist for T-Bone Walker before Walker’s passing in 1975. Benjamin was in Lincoln on and off in those years and in 1977 Larry Boehmer called Benjamin back to Lincoln to play in Little Jimmy Valentine & The Heart Murmurs. The band also included Madison Slim, Jim “Cid” Cidlik, Doug Rosekranz and Marc Wilson and was widely regarded as one of the significant regional bands in the late-1970s blues revival. Benjamin was a 2000 inductee into the Nebraska Music Hall of Fame. See more on Benjamin’s career at nebrocks.org/sean.htm.
Bruce Katz at Zoo Bar
Phenomenal Boston keyboard player Bruce Katz hits Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Friday, Oct. 25, 5-7 p.m. Katz is one of the best around, mixing boogie, R&B, “soul-jazz” and other styles of American piano and organ. Katz has toured with artists including Gregg Allman, Delbert McClinton and Maria Muldaur, but his solo work is jaw-droppingly great. Katz is touring in support of his new disc, Homecoming. See brucekatzband.com.
Critics call guitarist Bobby Messano a “guitar wizard.” The New York/Nashville based guitarist’s credits range from the MTV jingle to working as Steve Winwood’s music director. He has released five contemporary blues CDs as a solo artist. See bobbymessano.com. Messano plays The 21st Saloon Thursday, Oct. 23. Biscuit Miller & The Mix is scheduled Thursday, Oct. 30. Thursday shows are 6-9 p.m.