Sunday, November 29, 2009

Forty Piece Choir Headline Benefit for Fabian

by Marcie Garcia

Forty Piece Choir hasn’t played together since their farewell concert held at House of Blues over two years ago, but the recent loss of a dear friend and the band’s former band manager – Fabian Guerra, Jr. – has sparked FPC to reunite for the Fabian Guerra Family Benefit Concert on July 25 at the Double Door, to pay a fitting tribute to a man who was responsible for giving the “little guys” a big break in the Chicago music scene.

As FPC frontman Dan Dominiak explains it, Guerra didn’t mind getting his hands a little dirty in order to help local Chicago bands get their much-needed breaks and gigs at venues like the Big Horse Lounge, Double Door, and even Metro. If he liked your sound and thought you were good people, with Guerra at the reigns, you had a real shot at playing Chicago hot spots, just as much as any other 1990’s grunger.

“He is truly the unsung hero of the Chicago community,” says Dominiak. “He gave so many people a break in getting their first opportunity to play a club and also eventually getting into some bigger named clubs. “He was one of us and he stood up for the little guys.”

Guerra became FPC’s band manager in 1999 after catching a couple of their shows at Big Horse – a venue he regularly booked. Though the partnership ended amicably in 2003, as Guerra’s client list grew to include Wolcott, Ruck La' Rou, and Waste, he later switched careers to better provide for his growing family. But despite the break, Dominiak never lost sight of what his good friend and manager did for the up-and-comers that grew a huge following throughout their decade-long run.

“Fabian had started to book a lot of different bands,” explained Dominiak of the split. “It was coming to terms with where life was all taking us. And he was just trying to put food on the table for his family and that’s why he started to manage other bands. But he was a really good friend, a very trustworthy friend. Managers can be misinterpreted, but it turned into a really good friendship and he was someone who we can call our manager and actually really cared to talk about day to day things outside the music and band itself.”

FPC, who will reunite with original bandmates, Dana Okon, Kelly Cruse, Tim Minnick, Tim McCarthy, and Eddie Anderson of the 1900s. Dominiak is hopeful they will debut a new song inspired by Guerra, penned by close friend Okon, who regularly shared stories about each others kids with Guerra.

It seems Guerra has inspired and touched many since his passing on June 6 – the same day of his daughter Milla’s 12th birthday – as the music community is proving it is truly stringed together like family.

After learning of Guerra’s untimely death, at the young age of 41, Roberto Gonzales of the band Waste immediately reached out to Dominiak with the idea of doing something for the Guerra family that also includes wife Sara, and son Miles (6). Soon, Nate Arling at Double Door offered his venue and the wheels began to quickly roll. Forty Piece Choir had committed to the benefit show and soon, Waste, Nave, Troy Petty, and Wolcott jumped on board, too. Floods of raffle prizes were donated, including items from Pearl Jam, The Allerton Hotel, M Avenue Restaurant, Eddies Guitars, Embassy Suites, Sam Roberts Band, Bang Bang Beauty & Boutique, U.S. Music Corp, Champps Americana Restaurant, Anna Martinez Therapeutic Massage, Erica Davis, and many more.

The outpouring of support has been overwhelming and it makes Dominiak grateful to see the music community come together to the Nth degree.

“It wasn’t if the family needed the money or not,” says Dominiak. “It’s a way of showing them and giving them help. But more importantly, the whole focus is a celebration of what Fabian has done.”

The Fabian Guerra Family Benefit Concert will be bittersweet, but instead of saying goodbye to a dear friend, it’s more a testament that the show must go on.

And you can bet Guerra would’ve booked the gig.

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