Concert is a homecoming for Youngstown’s Mahan
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Youngstown native Mick Mahan — the bass player in Pat Benatar’s band since 1995 — will get to visit his hometown this weekend.
And he’s not going to waste the opportunity.
After Benatar’s concert at Covelli Centre on Friday, Mahan said he might just head out for some Wedgewood Pizza.
“I always feed myself into oblivion when I come home,” he said. “Maybe I’ll get some wedding soup and some other stuff I grew up with.”
Mahan, a graduate of Cardinal Mooney High and Kent State University, grew up on Lucius Avenue on the South Side. He left Youngstown for Los Angeles in 1977 but still comes back at least once a year to see family and friends. “I’m still from Youngstown,” he said. “I’m not an LA guy.”
Friday’s concert will mark the second time he’s played Youngstown with Pat Benatar, the first being a show at the old B&B Backstage amphitheater in Boardman in 2002.
Actually, Mahan began rocking his hometown in the seventh grade at St. Dominic’s elementary school with his first band, the Illusions. “I’ve been doing it since I was 11, but it’s still a thrill,” he said.
He would later form a band called the Great Lakes with Youngstowners Nick Salpietro, Kim Westerfield, Steve Marenkovic, Gary DiPasqauale and Al Cerretelli.
After college, Mahan worked as a substitute teacher at Boardman and the former Woodrow Wilson high schools. Then he headed west to pursue music.
“I did the LA scramble for gigs,” he said. He also worked as a session man in recording studios and has toured and recorded with the likes of Sophie B. Hawkins, Phillip Bailey, Alan Parsons, Steve Miller, Rick Springfield and Spencer Davis.
He landed the slot with Benatar with some help from another Youngstown rocker. “They originally were looking for a girl bass player,” he said, but a recommendation from Youngstown native Myron Grumbacher, who was Benatar’s drummer (he also did a stint with Rick Derringer), helped get Mahan an audition.
The Benatar tour has a strong Ohio slant. Neil Girolamo, Benatar’s husband, guitarist and musical partner, is from Cleveland.
Mahan describes the outfit as a family scene. “It’s stable, not a crazy rock thing. We’re all about food and children.”
The band will play more than 100 shows this year, including many with Cheap Trick. The tour started in June and will take a six-week break beginning in September before launching another leg in November.
Benatar began cranking out hits in the ’80s, but her popularity keeps renewing itself. “She’s got a huge following,” said Mahan. “A lot of the same people come out every year, and now kids get turned on to her by their parents. Little girls, especially, idolize her. She’s been such a huge influence on female singers.”
Benatar is also a longtime spokeswoman for breast-cancer research, and Friday’s concert will benefit the Joanie Abdu Breast Care Center in Youngstown, as part of the Panerathon fundraising events.