Rich Howells

NEPA musicians raise money for Bret Alexander with Wilkes-Barre benefit show and GoFundMe

NEPA musicians raise money for Bret Alexander with Wilkes-Barre benefit show and GoFundMe
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One of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s most well-known and respected musicians, Bret Alexander, has played so many benefit shows over the past three decades that no one could possibly keep track of them all. On Saturday, April 11, the show will be for him.

Organized by music journalist and Music on the Menu radio host Alan K. Stout and AJ Jump, drummer and co-owner of Karl Hall in Wilkes-Barre, “BANDing Together for Bret” will be held at The Woodlands Inn in Wilkes-Barre and bring together many of the musicians Alexander has worked with and influenced since his career began as a studio engineer in the late 1980s and later rose to national fame as the principal songwriter and guitarist of Selinsgrove rock band The Badlees with their hit album “River Songs” in 1995. As the owner of Saturation Acres in Dupont, he has recorded many notable NEPA artists, including the debut EP of multi-platinum rock band Breaking Benjamin.

“Bret, as I said in 1995, is a very talented man. And he is always the coolest guy in the room. And for all of these years, he has been the heart, the soul, and the center of this musical community. From The Badlees to his great solo work to The Cellarbirds to Gentleman East, he has given us some of the best music that we have ever heard. And as a producer, he has helped hundreds of other artists. And when it comes to charity events, he has always been there,” Stout wrote on his blog yesterday.

“To say we owe him one would be an understatement. We’ve all owed him one for a long time.”

Last week, the news was made public that Alexander has a genetic kidney condition that requires a transplant. His cousin will donate his kidney, but he will be unable to perform or work in the studio for a while after he undergoes the operation in February, so “BANDing Together for Bret” will help him with his expenses during this time.

The 21+ concert, which runs from 4 p.m.-10:30 p.m. on April 11 in the Grand Ballroom of The Woodlands (1073 Hwy. 315, Wilkes-Barre), features an impressive lineup of local talent headlined by reunion performances from Underground Saints, Mere Mortals, the original lineup of Graces Downfall, and one more set added this week – former Pan.a.ce.a members Paul Young, Matt Jaffin, and Mike Morgan will be joined by Johnny Jones of Ashfall and Aaron Bruch of Breaking Benjamin for a special set of Pan.a.ce.a’s music, played live for the first time in nine years. Bruch will be handling lead vocals in place of Tim Farley, who currently lives in Texas.

Aaron Fink, Dustin Douglas & The Electric Gentlemen, Joe Burke & Co., the Husty Bros., The Boastfuls, Ed Randazzo, Tom Flannery, Joe Cigan, Tony Halchak, Ellie Rose, Jeremy Hummel, Nyke Wan Wyk, and k8 are all scheduled to take the stage as well. There will also be an all-star musical tribute featuring former Badlees and current Gentleman East members Ron Simasek and Paul Smith.

Tickets go on sale this Saturday, Feb. 1 for $15 in advance via Eventbrite or $20 at the door. There will be raffle prizes from local businesses and a rock auction with items from bands like Breaking Benjamin.

In the meantime, a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign has started for Alexander’s medical fund. In just one week, $5,575 has been raised of its $10,000 goal as musicians share their support on social media.

“[This benefit show] is going to be huge, and it’s to help one of the most influential and important musicians to ever come out of our area. I can’t say enough about the impact Bret Alexander has had on me over my musical career, whether it was recording our very first 3IB album at Saturation Acres in Danville almost two decades ago with him all the way up to standing next to him every Wednesday night for the last five and a half years at Tony’s Wine Cellar. I know that anyone that knows Bret doesn’t have a good story or memory with him – you have a million good stories and memories with him, and he’s also an incredibly generous and helpful guy! So now it’s our turn to be generous and helpful back to the legend!” Rob Husty of Three Imaginary Boys and the Husty Bros. posted on Facebook.

“The lightning to my thunder. The most important relationship I have outside of my parents. There really are no words to describe Bret’s impact on myself and all of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. My pal and protector. It is now our turn to show up for you!” singer/songwriter Ed Randazzo said.

“There’s only one place to be on April 11. I grew up to Bret Alexander’s voice and lyrics through The Badlees. Later in life, Bret has never been anything but kind to me and supportive of everything I’ve done. He’s a great guy. Let’s have some fun and raise some funds,” said Joe Caviston, a local promoter and co-founder of the Electric City Music Conference and Steamtown Music Awards, which honored Alexander with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

“Bret has a genetic kidney condition that requires a transplant. He never mentioned it to me during all the time we spent together. Because that’s just not his way,” singer/songwriter Tom Flannery of Tom Flannery and the Shillelaghs wrote on his blog.

“He’s gonna get it in a few weeks, and he’s gonna be laid up for a while. And as he’s the hardest working man in show business (250+ shows a year), his friends are banding together to keep the meter filled while he gets stronger. He’d be the first in line to help any of us. I know this all makes him uncomfortable. But he deserves it. And that’s that.”

“Bret means everything to me. He’s as close to a family member without being a family member of anyone in my life,” Jump said on the air during Music on the Menu on 105 The River last Sunday.

“I’ve lived all around the country and I always say that some of the best musicians I’ve ever played with ever have been from this area, and one of them is 100 percent Bret Alexander. This is what we need to do for him. We need to come together for this and help him out because he’s helped so many people.”

Photo by Rich Howells/NEPA Scene