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May Student Profile of the Month--BenBob

Monday, May 13, 2013
Name: Benjamin R.

City: Buellton, CA

Forum Username: BenBob

My Gear:

Larrivee OM-09
Great Divide (camping guitar)
Ibanez classical
Squire Tele
Late 40's Silvertone (Kay) Archtop (as a project)
Fretless bass
Mandolin
Homemade Cigar Box Guitars
1929 Tenor Banjo (project)
*I mostly play acoustic, but for plugging in I have a Fender FM212 and a Digitech RP355.

Favorite Artists/Bands: Lately I've been listening to Django Reinhardt, Willie and the Wheel, Kris Kristofferson, Big Head Todd, Brian Setzer, Cowboy Junkies, Olds Sleeper, and Owen Plant. I've also listened to a lot of Paul Simon, Sting, Rich Mullins, Willie Nelson, CCR, Eagles, Doors, Beach Boys, U2... so many! Most of all I like good songwriting.

My favorite fingerstyle album for many, many years has been Keaggy's Beyond Nature. Martin Simpson's When I Was on Horseback, and albums by Peter Finger, Pierre Bensusan, and Laurence Juber have gotten a lot of play too.

Favorite style of music to play: Mostly acoustic stuff. Country, swing, classic rock, folk and blues.

What made you want to play music? My parents both filled my childhood with music and I can't remember a time that I didn't love it. I have a memory of my father sitting on the font porch singing and playing his Harmony 1260 on a rainy day and I think that was when it really grabbed me.

Previous music experience: I started with accordion! I moved on to a little piano and finally guitar. I learned chords from a Simon & Garfunkel picture chord book, and then a Calvary Praise book and whatever I could find at the library. In college I took a couple of classes in music theory and recording techniques. I also worked in a high-end acoustic guitar shop (Long Beach McCabe's/Wheatons) where I learned setup and got to see a lot of great fingerstyle players in concert. I dabbled with classical, fingerstyle, and learned bass which I played in the church band for a few years.

Last year I decided to try and fill in fundamental gaps in my playing, especially related to electric and lead guitar, so I decided to get the L&M Guitar program. I've enjoyed it, I've been learning, and the community has been a big part of keeping me motivated!

If the house was on fire, which instrument would you grab? My Larrivee OM. It was an early '90s NAMM representative originally owned by a great guy named James Jensen who organized the concerts at the shop where I worked. He went on to become a Grammy-winning producer for the album Pink Guitar. Thanks for the guitar James! It's still a joy every time I play it.

Favorite place to be when playing guitar: In my friend's old farmhouse kitchen. He hosts a weekly acoustic jam that I go to as often as I can. It's typically a few guitars, Weissenborn, mandolin, and sometimes bass, harmonica, and even fiddle. We play for a couple hours, eat pie, and play a bit more. It's a great time and I learn so much playing there. Find a jam or start one! It's the best.

Most delightful musical moment so far: Highest honor-- I had a church friend many years ago who was diagnosed with cancer in his 30s. Brilliant, good man... a writer with a young family. He lead the music for an evening service with just him on acoustic and me on fretless bass. I don't think we'd played together before that night, but we clicked and it was one of those magical moments. That was probably his last time leading before chemo, and he died not long after, but it's a beautiful memory.

More recently, a friend of mine who was learning bass had a goal to play a set for his 40th birthday. We got together every week for months and made it happen at his birthday party. Thanks to his encouragement, I ventured to sing. It was great fun, and we kept getting together and played a couple of other parties too.

Hobbies: My lifelong hobby has been guitar, but I've also dabbled in traditional archery, astronomy, and photography.

Current Job: I.T. Administrator
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