The Blues Sanctuary and Legato Blues Band will come together on Sept. 2 to perform music in honor of their mutual bandmate Rick Burgess, above, who passed
The Blues Sanctuary and Legato Blues Band will come together on Sept. 2 to perform music in honor of their mutual bandmate Rick Burgess, above, who passed away in 2014. (COURTESY photo)

BENNINGTON — It's been two years since the death of Blues Sanctuary lead vocalist Rick Burgess, and the group thought there would be no better way than to have a reunion on Sept. 2 for a "Pathway of the Blues" show to honor him.

As part of First Fridays, Vermont Arts Exchange invited Blues Sanctuary and the newly formed Legato Blues Band to the Masonic Hall. Legato Blues was formed by John O'Rourke after Blues Sanctuary disbanded in 2014. The idea of the show is to take the audience through the timeline of Chicago style blues into old school with a contemporary touch.

Blues Sanctuary was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2014 and won the Northeast Blues Society's 2008 Colossal Contender competition. Two pals, Ken Pallman and Burgess, formed the band in the mid 2000s and made sure they sought out good people and good musicians to form a solid group. Bruce Mariani sang and played bass, Joe Candal sang and played keyboard, Pallman played the drums and sang and O'Rourke joined a little later on guitar.

"Everybody's known Rick for certain periods of time," O'Rourke said. "[Blues Sanctuary] was the first band I was in when I moved to Vermont."

The show is on the exact two year anniversary of Burgess' death.


O'Rourke later formed Legato Blues covering songs from Joe Bonamassa, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck, Gary Moore and many more. Joining O'Rourke is bassist J.T. Armani and singer and percussionist Mike Meany.

All six will take the stage in honor of their talented former bandmate, but also for another special brother. Pallman will perform for his biological brother who passed away last week. He too was in a band growing up and gave Pallman his first three 45 rpm records and said "learn these."

On Pallman's left leg is a small yellow tattoo that resembles a 45 rpm adapter for the records that his brother gave him. He never wished get the other two adapters tattooed because it would be an acknowledgement of his brother's passing. But now he plans to.

"It was always a dream for us to play together. To have the Pallman Brothers Band," he said.

Pallman doesn't pick up an instrument as much as he used to. He played a gig with a friend from Connecticut early this summer, and said he thought he got his momentum back, but every time he goes into his basement to practice, the feeling isn't the same.

"[This week] I'm playing for a reason," he said.

Pallman's daughter has been taking guitar lessons to follow in his musical footsteps.

While Pallman had his music career on the side of his real career, O'Rourke does not. The Yonkers, N.Y. native bought a house in southern Vermont in the early 2000s and met someone who knew Burgess, which is how he started playing with Blues Sanctuary.

Pallman said he had a sound that they hadn't experimented with and it eventually allowed them to move on from bar gigs to bigger venues and traveling to different states. He added that they were the only band that sold out shows at the original Basement Music Series in North Bennington.

"Pathway of the Blues" starts at 8 p.m. on Sept. 2 at 504 Main St. in Bennington. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets can be bought there at $15 for adults and $8 for students.

— Contact Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471.