A gathering of friends to benefit Bentley family

Musician Joe Altieri, a member of the Benefit Band, plays electric guitar during the benefit. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)

JOHNSTOWN — To a large extent, the Bentley Benefit Saturday was like a family reunion.

The benefit, with seven bands and a D.J., was set up to aid Richard and June Bentley, whose two-story equipment storage garage was destroyed by fire on Jan. 10. The garage held tools and climbing equipment for R Bentley Tree Service, reportedly valued at thousands of dollars.

“Your local musicians are all family,” Bentley said. “We’re all brothers in this—what happens to one person affects everybody.”

The event was scheduled from 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday, and by about 4, more than 300 people had already attended. The food was donated, so proceeds from the $10 admission, 48 raffle baskets and a 50/50 was earmarked for the Bentleys.

“Every dime we bring in is donated,” to the Bentleys, said Barbara Fisher, who coordinated the event at the Sammonsville Volunteer Fire Department.

Bentley has “known these guys [the musicians] forever,” she said. “They are close friends.”

Bentley started out in the music business as a lighting technician and overall helper, traveling around the United States and Canada. Then when babies started coming, Bentley said he got into the tree service business. But his music background stayed with him as volunteered to assist area bands.

“Richard is a guy that would do anything for anybody,” said Phil Schuyler of the Maddhaus band and organizer of the bands for the benefit. “He’s the kind of guy who does a job no one else wants and does it happily,” including “loading equipment at 4 o’clock in the morning in 10-below weather. He never asks for anything.”

Besides Maddhaus, the bands were Third Rail, The Benefit Band, Our Secret Love Society, Saving Atlantis, Remedy and Doc Orloff’s Blues Elixir. Top Shelf DJ participated.

“I’m glad the benefit is really well attended,” said Laura Mealon, who knows Bentley from her work in the Gloversville public works department.

Other people volunteering for the event were Linda Lakata, Alicia Pesce, Harry Russo and John Lakata. Providing lighting was Rob Breuer of Starving Artist Lighting. Sound was by Michael J. Clukey and photography by Bill Trojan.

By Patricia Older

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