It started out as a benefit concert for a former Rochester family, and then word began to spread through the musical grapevine
Soon what had started out as modest two-band concert was transformed into a mult-generational musical bash, as more bands jumped on the bandwagon.
The “Benefit on Broadway” is being held Saturday, Nov. 14 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Cafe Steam for Bob Roulliard and his wife, Alicia Herman, a couple whose lives have been hammered by misfortune and illness.
For several years, Roulliard, longtime union organizer, has been battling Parkinson’s disease. Then earlier this year, Herman, a former Rochester middle school teacher, was diagnosed with a severe form of multiple sclerosis. Then Roulliard was laid off from his job as a research analyst and union organizer of SEIU Minnesota Healthcare, a union that represents 15,000 healthcare workers in the state.
Addison Israelson, a Rochester high school student, said he conceived the idea of a benefit for the couple while their families were having dinner in the Twin Cities.
“I was talking to Bob and Alicia about what life has been like with these two debilitating illnesses, and Alicia was telling me that her medication alone was $5,000 a month,” Israelson said. “I play in two bands. We have a decent enough following. Maybe I could get some people and raise some money to help pay those bills. And then it became a bigger deal than I was expecting.”
Herman said that the couple’s medical expenses are being paid for through the state’s Medical Assistance program. She is also getting support from a drug company that is helping Herman pay for a newer, stronger medication for her MS.
She said the biggest challenge lies in paying for the day-to-day bills associated with keeping keeping their house and other costs.
The evening will promise a musical mix of traditional rock and roll, funk, modern rock and folk and indie music. The singers and bands also run the generational spectrum of student-led bands to more established groups.
The lineup of singers and bands includes Jason McKenzie, Dylan Hilliker of the band Dystonia, Winston Howard of Suite, the Root River Jam, Good Morning Bedlam, Monster Sweatsuit and the Rares.
Israelson, a guitarist and co-singer for the Rares, said the benefit was originally envisioned as a more modest event featuring his band. Then Joel Wilson, singer of the Monster Sweatsuit, signed on. Then Wilson’s dad, Dave Wilson, a lead singer and guitarist for Root River Jam, also came on board. So did other bands.
“It kind of blossomed in into this big multi-band (event),” Israelson said.
Other people are pitching in as well. Carlos Diaz volunteered to serve as hypeman and man the free will donation box at the entrance of Cafe Steam. Claire Dahl, a Rochester high school student, used her graphic arts skills to do the poster for the benefit. Jay Defrang will work the sound equipment.
In addition to the money raised at the door, Cafe Steam will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the night’s sales to the benefit.
“It’s becoming a bigger production than it initially was going to be, but I’m very happy for it,” Israelson said.
If you go
What: Benefit on Broadway
When: Saturday, Nov. 14, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: Cafe Steam, 315 South Broadway, Rochester, Mn.
4 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Jason McKenzie
5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. – Dylan Hilliker (Dystonia)
5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. – Winston Howard (Suite)
6 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Root River Jam
7 p.m. to 8 p.m. – Good Morning Bedlam
8 p.m. to 9 p.m. – Monster Sweatsuit
9 p.m. to 10 p.m. – The Rares