Take 10: Rico Wayne Johnson and Dove Benoit

If you live in the Peoria area and haven’t seen The BraziLionaires, you’re missing out on one of the liveliest bands around! Since forming as a duo in 2012, the group has expanded into a seven-piece ensemble featuring some of the region’s most talented musicians, bringing a taste of Latin influence to the Peoria music scene.

Rico Wayne Johnson is the lead songwriter and guitarist, a Peoria native and full-time musician now living in Nashville. He attended Christ Lutheran Grade School and Manual High before moving to California, where he was accepted into the Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood. Lead vocalist Dove Benoit was born and raised in Sacramento; graduated from the University of California, Berkeley; and received higher education at the University of Vermont. Dove came to Peoria in 2011, where she lived for six years before joining Rico in Nashville. She divides her time between the band and a career in healthcare.

The two met in the summer of 2012 at a party, where they discussed music at length and Rico described his concept for the quirky Latin band he wanted to create. She expressed interest and soon The BraziLionaires were formed, landing a weekly gig at the now-defunct Black Rabbit. They performed there every Wednesday for a year and half, grooming their act and attracting the great local musicians who soon joined them. The BraziLionaires have long since outgrown that small stage, and in February you’ll see them as they’ve never been seen before: accompanied by the Peoria Symphony Orchestra.

1. Favorite aspect of central Illinois: Dove: the people.

2. Greatest extravagance: Rico: Cuban cigars.

3. Favorite smell: Dove: California Redwoods.

4. First car: Rico: 1980 Monte Carlo.

5. What was your first job? Dove: Delivering telephone books.

6. What is your favorite childhood memory? Rico: Piling in the family station wagon and going on summer vacation.

7. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Dove: Teleportation—traveling anywhere so quickly would be amazing!

8. What social issue fires you up? Rico: Mother Earth and the way humans treat her.

9. What book do you think everyone should read? Dove: Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh.

10. What’s your favorite way to unwind after a long day? Rico: Scotch on the rocks and Bossa nova. a&s

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