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Dead Hearts, local band with Hamburg ties, reunites for Alix Rice benefit

Dead Hearts is reuniting to help the Alix Rice Peace Park Foundation build an area skate park. From left is Jeremy Smith, Tom Mayer, Derek Dole, Josh Heatley and Pauly Issue.
On Saturday, Dec. 29, the day Alix Rice would have turned 20-years-old, a benefit concert will be held in her honor featuring a band reuniting for the first time in four years.

That band, Dead Hearts, features three Hamburg natives who were all affected by the tragedy, in their own ways.

“We didn’t know Alix,” said drummer Josh Heatley, himself a skateboarder who was glued to the news coverage of the resulting criminal case, “but it’s awesome to be able to do this.”

The Amherst teenager was killed in July 2011 when she was struck by a car driven by Dr. James Corasanti while riding her longboard home from work. Corasanti, who had been drinking earlier in the evening, was acquitted of felony manslaughter charges, but was sent to jail for one year on a misdemeanor DWI charge connected to the case.

The proceeds from the benefit will go to the Alix Rice Peace Park Foundation, who is building a skate park in her honor.

The band, started in 2004 among several friends in the hardcore punk music scene in Buffalo, played its last show in September 2008. While they were together, they amassed a following throughout the United States and Europe by touring consistently on both continents.

“We played in Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, 13 countries overall in Europe,” said singer Derek Dole. “We even played on a boat in Paris.”

The idea of playing the benefit show came after bassist Tom Mayer played a game of pick-up hockey in Fort Erie, Ontario with Sabres broadcaster Brian Duff, who’s been involved in the effort to build the skate park in Rice’s name. Duff was previously involved with a benefit concert in October, and was looking for ideas for the next one. Mayer suggested that his current band, Rust Belt Lights, could play. When that didn’t work out, Mayer said, the idea struck to reunite Dead Hearts and get even more people to attend the concert.

“I proposed that we could help out the benefit in a much bigger way,” he said.

The excitement around the band reuniting has spawned rumors of people flying in from places like Austria and Germany to see the band. That’s quite humbling, said guitarist Jeremy Smith.

“It’s very exciting for me,” he said. “I was always very excited to go visit those places when we played, so for someone to take the time out to fly here and spend the money just to see a bunch of dudes from Buffalo doing our thing, I think that’s really cool.”

Like many Western New Yorkers, members of the band found the verdict in the case outrageous, Dole said.

“Emotionally it was upsetting,” he said. “It was unfair.”

The band has been practicing together for the past few weeks, and will be ready to go. It’s not the first time they’ve been asked to reunite for a benefit, but this time hit closer to home.

“It doesn’t just benefit one family or one person,” Dole said. “It benefits the community.”

The benefit will be held on Saturday, Dec. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Game Room at Wasteland, located at 700 Main St. in Buffalo. Tickets are $15, and only available at www.AlixRice.com.


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