Vail music: 7 questions with Ben Musser of Benyaro
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –Brooklyn-based band Benyaro – which comes to Vail Tuesday – drew some of its first crowds while playing on subway platforms in New York City. And though the occasional drunk would try and take off with his guitar case, band member Ben Musser (guitar, vocals, drums, harmonica) called the experience “exhilarating” and “great practice – (it) toughened us up for the occasional unfriendly crowd.”
Musser and Bobby McCullough on upright bass (Musser’s sister, Meg Chamberlin, usually sings and plays percussion but couldn’t make this show) will perform a free show at the Bully Ranch in Vail on Tuesday. The show is part of Benyaro’s 47-day tour of the West.
VD: What was it like playing next to the subway? Any funny stories?
BM: Many stories … I had to kick a drunk man as he tried to pull my guitar case away while we were playing. I don’t think we stopped the song. I was nearly beaten up once, after blowing off some drunks who wanted me to play some crap. Luckily there are cops on the platform. There have been plenty of photos, dancing, folks who want/try to sing with us, and phone numbers.
VD: What brings you to Colorado on this tour? Have you performed in Vail or this area before?
BM: Coloradans appreciate the honesty and truth in our songs. They also love acoustic music. We are different than most acoustic music, though, and they are hip enough to receive and welcome something different. Coloradans seem to be adventurous by nature and are always looking for something new to try. Of course, we love to be in the state because of her beauty. There’s nothing like having a day off here to hike, bike or swim.
We have never performed in Vail or on the Western Slope. We have performed in Denver, Boulder and Ft. Collins.
VD: Your voice sounds a little like Cat Stevens to me. Have you ever gotten that kind of comparison and who are you most often compared to?
MB: Yes, I have received comparisons to Cat Stevens. He is whom I am most often compared to. I was compared to him last night in West Virginia. I have also received several Axl Rose, Al Green and Prince comparisons lately, which is flattering.
Vail Daily: Tell me how you came up with your band name? It seems like a scary proposition to pick one name that will stay with you for hopefully a very long time, I mean what if you pick a name you end up hating a year later?
Ben Musser: My brother-in-law came up with it while I was playing with a guy named Yaro. I Googled it, and nothing came up, which is perfect. Yaro has since passed the torch to Bobby, but the name will remain the same.
If you pick a name you end up hating, maybe you should let your spouse name your children.
VD: What’s on your iPod right now that you can’t get enough of?
MB: I generally enjoy music of the past with the exception of the Avett Brothers. Besides them it’s been Billie Holiday, Etta James, Hank Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, JJ Cale, The Buena Vista Social Club and Beethoven that I’ve been spinning.
VD: I really like your song “Time to Kill,” probably because it starts with “she had a home in Colorado, down where the sandstone meets the clay.” What inspired that song?
MB: I will have to check with my good friends who wrote it. When this song was penned in Austin, Tex., I was the drummer. When I started Benyaro in NYC, I brought it back to life. It seems to me it’s about a woman from the west.
VD: Your sister, Meg Chamberlin, is the percussionist and backup singer in the band. Tell me what it’s like having a family member in the band. Do you guys bicker?
MB: Meg and I have grown closer through music. We have had some great times and experiences out on the road together, and with Bobby, our bassist. We definitely bicker, all of us, but it usually ends in a laugh.
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or email@example.com.
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