, Salem, MA

Local News

December 6, 2012

At shelter, band plays on

Former partners start group after meeting up at River House


Crivello, who worked as a plumber before a heart attack left him disabled, said music has always been his “passion.” After losing his job and going through a divorce, playing in a band has given him renewed confidence.

“It makes me feel happy sometimes,” he said. “A lot of times, it’s self-rewarding.”

The other members of the band are Sam Benashski, Kate’s son and a shelter volunteer, and Jim LaFontaine, the pastor at Emmanuel Community Church in Essex.

LaFontaine has donated a drum set, a public address system and a couple of amplifiers to the band. He has also opened up his church to allow the band to practice in a larger space than the cramped shelter.

LaFontaine, who used to run talent shows and other activities at a large drug and alcohol treatment center in Michigan, said the band provides a great outlet for the shelter residents.

“There’s often a lot of musicians that have been involved with addiction, a lot of talented people in general,” he said. “It’s very therapeutic for the guys to be able to have that to focus on. It’s a good quality thing they can do and keep their mind off some other things.”

The band members also give credit to fellow shelter resident Tony Monaco, who calls himself the “godfather” of River House, for encouraging them to perform as a group.

The band members said they would like to keep practicing and making appearances. They’ve even adopted a tagline given to them by Kate Benashski: “We put the ‘funk’ in dysfunctional.”

“It’s fantastic,” Zdyrko said. “It’s more than I can ask for. It’s amazing they let us play here. They’re very supportive.”

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or

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