When you’re in a performance space the size of Red Square, it usually means “back to basics.” And as far as the viewing portion of the equation goes, that’s true: It’s pretty much “Stand up, or go home.” (Two friends of mine beat that system, but I went the standard route, and I’ve got an ice-pack on my back to prove it.) But any club with the art Red Square displays and the microbrews Red Square serves isn’t that simple, in the same way that saying “Marco Beneveneto plays piano” isn’t that simple.
Saugerties’ most recent transplant plays a 1927 Wurlitzer stand-up piano, which travels with him everywhere he performs; that meant hauling it here from Portsmouth, NH, where Beneveneto is finishing a residency – and where, Beneveneto admitted with some chagrin, “We left all the merch!” The word “portable” does not come to mind when you see this instrument, and loading it in and out of venues must be an absolute bitch. But Beneveneto has played “Pimp My Piano” with this thing, and I’m not referring to the fake lion’s head that’s attached to one side. A laptop and an electronic keyboard live on the top of the piano, and the shelf above the keyboard has so many effects buttons, you’d think Nels Cline had switched instruments. Combine this with the piano’s exposed workings – which allowed Beneveneto to mute chords with one hand while he played with the other – and this sucker is the musical version of Frankenstein. And that’s appropriate, given what a freaking monster Beneveneto’s trio is.