Pat Cheek

Farewell to Our Friend Lance Bennett: The Harp Man

Lance "The Harp Man" Bennett
Lance “The Harp Man” Bennett

Things you might not have known about Lance:

Lance was born in Surrey, England in 1949, started playing the harmonica at around age 18 and that’s all he ever did. Every job he had was held only for the purpose of keeping him going between gigs. He emigrated to Canada when he was 19. He and Letty met in Toronto in 1982, came to Quepos for the first time in 1995, and moved here 5 years later. Our little community benefited greatly by that move.

In his 25 year career he has covered folk, delta and Chicago blues, country music, western swing, bluegrass, lounge jazz, latin jazz, pop, rhythm and blues, and an “all-too-brief” stab at rap. Lance was known for his breadth of musical styles and his virtuosity on the harmonica.

Lance & Letty
Lance & Letty

Lance went to see the Yardbirds when he was a young man in England, and when the harmonica player,(KEITH RELF, began to play, as he says, ‘My hair stood on end.’ The excitement  never waned.

His musical influences included such venerated previous generation players TOOTS THIELMAN and LARRY ADLER, and the much younger HOWARD LEVY, the amazing CHARLIE MCCOY and the seminal SONNY TERRY, but says “I’ve never heard a harmonica player who didn’t have something to offer. The good ones, at least, if you’ve got the ear for it they all sound distinct.”

Lance Bennett
Lance Bennett

He has played and recorded with Canadian music award winners RAFFI, PRAIRIE OYSTER, THE JITTERS, PROFESSOR PIANO, THE LINCOLNS, JEFF HEALY, LEON REDBONE, and LORI YATES. His television and radio credits include solo soundtracks for CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio and television shows.

In the nineties he collaborated with British recording artist GARETH HEDGES to produce a critically acclaimed CD of vintage  American music called CANDY MAN; he played in a 22 piece orchestral production of FRANK ZAPPA’S JOE’S GARAGE; he produced and released, with his Toronto based band THE GLADSTONIANS, an eclectic rock and blues CD NO VISITORS AFTER 10 PM.

Lance also was one of ten featured Canadian artists whose music and views on his art form were televised in depth on the award winning series BLUESMAN, which aired extensively on the international arts TV station BRAVO!

Since relocating to Costa Rica in 1999, he recorded and produced two CD s of jazz standards and latin jazz, FIESTA DULZAINA (Harmonica Party) and NO ES HOMBRE QUIEN CONOSCE SU PROPRIO PADRE (No Man Knows His Own Father).

Gladstonian Reunion
Gladstonian Reunion

THE GLADSTONIANS were formed in the mid-nineties by Lance on his regular Sunday night gig at The Gladstone Hotel and emerged through a distillation process of many musicians. Although involved in other musical adventures through the week, the band met every Sunday and performed songs that they wanted to play.

The spirit of that drew a regular audience and many guests, including BOBBY KEYS from the ROLLING STONES, band members from BLUE RODEO and CORY HART, and tons of other great Toronto musicians that were invited to sit in. As well as having a show on the BLUESMAN series on Bravo, THE GLADSTONIANS were featured in NOW MAGAZINE, and had articles written about them in many local papers. The band never really broke-up, the geographic distance made it impossible to continue as Lance and Letty had moved to Costa Rica, others to Florida and others had touring obligations. The band reunited in Toronto in 2006, and exists always in the virtual Kingdom of Gladstonia.

The Gladstonians reunited again in Feb 2015 in Quepos, Costa Rica, a special event for all privileged to listen.

A few words from friends:

Playing Dos Locos every Saturday afternoon
Playing Dos Locos every Saturday afternoon

Christina Duckworth-Pilkington: Letty, Peter and I are so sorry to hear about Lance. We are thinking about you and Lance, and our memories of your music together.

We heard Lance and you play several times, but the stand-out event for us had to be the band’s performance at the Duke of Connaught here in the east end. The blues were wailing, and there were five fights—one of them between the drummer and the guitarist who I think were brothers. But you and Lance kept it all together. What a happy time it was.

Sympathy for the Devil
Sympathy for the Devil

Peter Vineberg: The saddest of news, our dear friend Lance Bennett has left us for the “Great Forever”. You will be missed buddy, you are loved by us all, the pain is beyond description. Not only have we lost a dear, dear friend but the World has lost one of the best harp players ever. Travel well my friend, please say hi to Sue for us all.

See Ya’ when we see Ya’, you were one of the good guys. Letty, words cannot express the depth of our pain, but we know it pales in comparison to yours. We love you, we are here for you, please reach out!?

We are all poorer without Lance, his music, and his sense of humour.

Jhonny Bench: I had the privilege to know Lance . Sharing time with that British Man was great, I had the chance to learn so much from him and for that I am grateful.

He worked so much into my self-confidence as a musician that made me improve and believe that I could play with any band in the world .

Lance, it was an honor to share the stage with you .

Rest in peace brother and may the Lord have your soul in His arms.

Pat: The above writing comes from many sources and please forgive me for some editing.

Some parts of my life get a lot harder as I get older…like saying good-bye to dear friends. This is another one that I will truly miss. I’ve learned more about Lance Bennett than I knew and you might have too… Lance, what a special man he was.

Lance & Letty
Lance & Letty

All I know for sure is there is an outstanding jam going on up in the great beyond, where the music never ends and the drinks are free. We will miss you Lance, not only your outstanding musical talent, but your humor and just Lance being Lance. Lance is survived by his wife Letty Anderson, dear family and many friends Worldwide…

As he wrote his own epitaph: He blew in, he blew out.

3 thoughts on “Farewell to Our Friend Lance Bennett: The Harp Man

  • Just learning of Lance’s death today…..I am saddened by this news. Lance and I played together for about a year on the road in Ontario Canada with Billy Adams & Salt Water in the mid ’70’s….I remember showing Lance the chords on my guitar for “I remember You”(Frank Ifield) so many years ago…….what good times we shared……Rest In Peace my brother…It was a honor and a pleasure to know and play beside you…..Ian Hully.5/26/2017.

  • Dear Letty, we met briefly at Dos Locos, where you gave me the privilege of playing guitar with your band and of course Lance on the harp… I am sad to learn that I won’t have the pleasure to play in the same band again: I knew him little but the feeling came through. I will see you all again soon I hope, and I can then express my condoleances “live”…
    Alex, Ticobec’s guest and freind April 2014

  • Those were the days my friend! Lots of love to Letty, my sometime bridge partner.

    Thinking of you.

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