Ben Rudnick and Friends
April Fool

I am an April Fool in so many ways. Being in the world of music I’ve built up around myself, you might expect that there are certain songs I just absolutely love. There are! Many! This song by Ronnie Lane is one of those songs and the only song I know called April Fool. Enjoy it if you have a second.

http://youtu.be/LLFMoVSkqBQ

Room to Grow Edition

 Hello,

I hope all is well. We’ve been happily rolling into spring. Seeing the shoots popping up, the crocuses opening
and this beautiful day only reinforces the desire to go out and play some more. So we will do exactly that with a Family Works event at TICO on Saturday. Details below.

Fun Times Two Last Saturday and A Little Insight
Last Saturday’s shows in Winchester, MA and Needham, MA couldn’t have been more different. The Winchester show, in a sonically challenged, echo drenched environment, was as loose as loose gets. It was all kinds of good fun. In an environment like that we think people can hear us. It turns out to be a “we’re on this side of the echo, they’re on that side and they seem happy so it must be okay” situation. Compare that to the sonically dry, carpeted meeting style room at the Needham library with kids and people just feet from us waiting to be entertained and… and… it’s a good thing I’m a Gemini. I’m pleased to say the band adapted wonderfully and it was a good day of music for all.

Probably the funniest moment of the day came when one of the woman from the Winchester group that hired us went to thank her audience, said one word into the microphone, heard cacophony back and instantly had that “oh, I get it” look. Anyway… that’s a little insight into our world.

NEW SONG ALERT
We debuted a new song in Winchester the other day. Three chords and all kinds of fun. It’s called Coney Island Crazy  and is the band’s first homage to an amusement park. Listen for it at a show near you.

Upcoming Shows
Beyond TICO this Saturday, we’re playing two shows the following weekend then taking a bit of a well deserved break. The weekend of April 12th and 13th include:

  • Saturday - April 12 - 10am - Arlington, MA - Benefit for the Arlington Heights Nursery School Playground - A rare April hometown show!

     
  • Sunday - April 13 - A&B Burger - Salem, MA - This is a Family Works show. We’ll be collecting monetary donations for the families of the fallen firefighters from the Engine 33, Ladder 15 Firehouse. We’ll have materials so that we can all make cards of hope, thanks and condolences to give to their families and brother firefighters. There will be Salem firemen on hand with firetrucks for the kids to see up close. The Family Works event starts at 10:30am. The band will start playing at 11:30am. If it’s nice out, I hear we get to play outside.     

Details for both shows are on our website.

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SATURDAY, April 5 at TICO with a Family Works Event

These Family Works events have just been amazing. Good vibes galore and we’ve been collecting much needed supplies for hard working organizations. This Saturday we’ll be collecting baby goods for Room to Grow, a neighbor of TICO’s on Berkeley Street in Boston. They heard about the Family Works events at TICO and asked if we could do one to help them. So Saturday it is!

 

WHERE: TICO, 222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA  


PARKING
: If you arrive early for the Family Works event, there is often parking available on the street. Bring some quarters! Be careful… there is sometimes a two hour limit per for your car on any given street. It’s a “am I lucky today” thing. There is also a parking garage located conveniently in the building under TICO. The entrance is on St. James Street, just off the corner of Berkeley. By T, The Arlington T station on the Green Line is the closest to TICO. 


WHAT: BR&F’s “living room,” great fun, great food and Family Works. 


MUSIC STARTS AT: 11:00am 

FEE: Free coffee, tea and juice. Brunch is available for a fee. Brunch is really good. 

PHONE: TICO’s phone is (617) 351-0400. Reservations recommended but not required.

FAMILY WORKS WILL BENEFIT: Room to Grow 

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: The mission of Room to Grow is to enrich the lives of babies born into poverty throughout their critical first three years of development. More

 

TIME: The Family Works! event will run from 10:00am until the band starts playing at 11:00am. You can participate at any point.

CRAFT: We’ll be supplying art materials for a craft for the kids.

WE WILL COLLECT:  Room to Grow needs: 

Used but in excellent condition only:  

    • Clothing, to size 5T
    • Toys and Books
    • Blankets
    • Crib Sheets
    • Towels and Washcloths
    • Bibs
    • Strollers
    • High Chairs
    • Booster Chairs
    • Bassinets
    • Baby Carriers
    • Bouncy Seats   
    • Swings
    • Play Mats
    • Exersaucers
    • Bathtubs
    • Potties
    • Feeding Supplies
    • Baby Proofing Items
    • Baby Monitors
    • Diaper Bags
    • Children’s or Parenting DVDs
    • Children’s CDs
    • Photo Albums
    • Baby’s Room Accessories
    • Child Rearing Books

New condition only:

    • Bottles and cups
    • Breast pump
    • Teethers
    • Baby Shampoo and Baby Lotion
    • Diaper Cream
    • Baby Care items  

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Upcoming Shows

  • Saturday - April 5 - Boston, MA - TICO/Family Works
  • Saturday - April 12 - Arlington, MA
  • Sunday - April 13 - Salem, MA - A&B Burgers/Family Works
  • Saturday May 3 - Salem, MA - A&B Burgers/Family Works  

More information for all shows is here. And just a reminder… you never have to participate in a Family Works event to enjoy the show.  


Best Regards,


Ben R & F


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Ben Rudnick and Friends
TWO Shows and Bat Hair Day Edition
March 25, 2014 

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Hey Folks,

I hope this finds you well. The top of the newsletter news is… we’re cruising along. Our first A&B Burgers Family Works
show in Salem, MA was an immediate success. Our 24-hour jaunt to World Cafe Live in Delaware last weekend was smooth sailing. We definitely made some new friends and fans along the way.

And if that isn’t enough… I’ve found out that Mr. Turtleman has used our music on several more episodes of Call of the Wildman. Details below.

TWO SHOWS on SATURDAY
On Saturday we’re playing a couple of shows:

  • 11am - Winchester, MA  
  • 3:15pm - Needham, MA.

Details are below.

A FACEBOOK THING - Public Service Announcement
This is an FYI bit of information. If you like us on Facebook, and would like to see anything we post there (mainly show information), then “Liking” us is not enough. You have to visit our page, hover your cursor over the “Liked” icon and click on “Get Notifications.” It is the simplest thing. Really. We won’t abuse your Like. We do post show information there in a timely fashion.

Hover your cursor over the Liked icon and click “Get Notifications”

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TURTLEMAN UPDATE - Bat Hair Day 

I’ve found out that besides BR&F music being used in the previously mentioned “Call of the Wildman" episodes "Angry Pidgeons" and "Hell Hog," we’ve had songs included in several other episodes.The one I was able to track down and watch today was called "Bat Hair Day." In this episode Mr. Turtleman and his trusty sidekick, Neal, had to get a raccoon out of a cave and bats out of a salon. The skill and bravery these deep wood Kentuckians demonstrate in the capture of obstreperous critters makes me proud to associated with them in even the most remote way.  (Note… yes… I looked up the word obstreperous. It means noisy and difficult to control.)   

Today’s tune was once again, Chet’s Fabulous Diner. It’s seems that when Mr. Turtleman and Neal have to get going, they do so with Chet’s as their traveling music. I say “good choice!” I’ll track down the other episodes and share the excitement in future newsletters. 

Turtleman (with the turtle) and Neal (with the banjo)

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SATURDAY SHOW #1: Winchester, MA - 11am




WHERE: Crawford Memorial Methodist Church, 34 Dix Street, Winchester, MA 

WHAT: A benefit for the Family Action Network of Winchester, MA.

MUSIC STARTS AT: 11:00am
COST: Free for FAN members otherwise $10 at the door.

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SATURDAY SHOW #2: Needham, MA - 3:15pm 

Yes, we’ll be packing up quick in Winchester and heading straight over to Needham, MA.

WHAT: A show. We played the Needham Free Library last summer but due to one of those major lightning storms with quite a bit of flooding, while it was fun, it wasn’t what you’d call, a success. We’re trying again! 

MUSIC STARTS AT: 3:15pm
COST: FREE.


Upcoming Shows
  • Saturday - March 29 - Morning - Winchester, MA
  • Saturday - March 29 - Afternoon - Needham, MA   
  • Saturday - April 5 - Boston, MA - TICO/Family Works
  • Saturday - April 12 - Arlington, MA
  • Sunday - April 13 - Salem, MA - A&B Burgers/Family Works
  • Saturday May 3 - Salem, MA - A&B Burgers/Family Works  

More information for all shows is here. And just a reminder… you never have to participate in a Family Works event to enjoy the show.  


Best Regards,


Ben R & F


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Quick Links… 

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View our videos on YouTube  Find us on Facebook  View our profile on LinkedIn  Follow us on Twitter  Visit our blog

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Website  

Full Schedule 

Myspace Page 

Online Purchase of CDs and T-Shirts 

Where the Burgers Czar Edition


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Ben Rudnick and Friends
Where the Burgers Czar Edition
March 11, 2014 

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Hello,

I hope all is well in your world.

GIVEAWAY CONTEST! WHO SAID IT???  In celebration of our new Family Works partner, A&B Burgers, if you can tell me (without looking it up on the interweb) the name of the TV character, on which TV show, uttered the phrase “The Burger Czar, where the burgers are” I will put you in a, what I imagine is a very short or nonexistent, list of names from which I’ll randomly choose one and send the winner one of our discs as a prize.

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GREAT Fun at TICO. Next TICO show is Sat, April 5th.
Thanks to all who came out for another super fun Family Works event at TICO. Catching Joy supplied the art project and we collected a pile of donations for Birthday Wishes.

Also… I kept announcing the wrong date for our next TICO show. The correct date is Saturday, April 5th.

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Show and Family works this Saturday in SALEM, MA at A&B Burgers
Soo…. a couple of years ago, with the Family Works idea hatched but no venue to actually stage it at, I received a call from Thomas Holland, whose restaurant TICO was looking to start a kid friendly music series on Saturday mornings. I went down to the restaurant, chatted with Tom and as I was leaving mentioned my new idea. We sat back down and the seed planted there has really worked out at TICO.

Fast forward a couple of winters and Tom has opened his own restaurant, A&B Burgers in Salem, MA. Tom called last week and we’ve booked a series of shows at A&B starting with this Saturday. Everyone in the band is looking forward to working with Tom again and the restaurant just sounds amazing
: 

"A&B Burgers is a burger joint at heart, but it’s a burger joint that will bring you high-quality foods and amazing hospitality in a clean family-friendly environment. We serve the best burgers around, we serve ice cream and milkshakes, beer wine and cocktails…Keep it simple…. We want to be a partner with the community by being an active member of Salem and other communities we grow along with." anbburgers.com

This week’s event and A&B Burgers will collect goods for Lifebridge, a Salem, MA 501(c)(3) whose mission is to break the cycle of homelessness. 

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A&B Burgers / FAMILY WORKS on SATURDAY Morning March 15  


WHERE
: A&B Burgers, 50 St. Peter Street, Salem, MA 

WHAT: BR&F show and Family Works event.  

PARKING: parking tips from the A&B Burgers website.

MUSIC STARTS AT
: 11:30am

FEE
:
Free chocolate milk, juice and coffee during the Family works event. The full menu is available at any time.

PHONE: A&B’s phone is (978) 498-4997.



FAMILY WORKS WILL BENEFIT
:  Lifebridge a 501(c)(3) located in Salem, MA


WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT
: Lifebridge’s mission is to end the cycle of homelessness.  

TIME: The Family Works! event will run from 10:30am until the band starts playing at 11:30am. You can participate at any point.

 CRAFT: BR&F will supply all the materials for a cool craft for the kids to make.

WE WILL COLLECT:  Lifebridge can really use NEW:    

  • Laundry detergent pods - highly needed! 
  • Dryer sheets
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Tissue boxes
  • Disposable razors 
  • Shampoo, combs
  • ADULT/NEW Socks and underwear
  • Towels  
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Upcoming Shows
The rest of March through edge of May:
  • Saturday - March 22 - World Cafe at the Queen, Wilmington, Delaware
  • Saturday - March 29 - Morning - Winchester, MA
  • Saturday - March 29 - Afternoon - Needham, MA 
  • Saturday - April 5 - TICO/Family Works - Boston, MA  
  • Saturday - April 12 - Arlington, MA
  • Sunday - April 13 - A&B Burgers/Family Works - Salem, MA
  • Saturday - May 3 - A&B Burgers/Family Works - Salem, MA 

More information for all shows is here. And just a reminder… you never have to participate in a Family Works event to enjoy the show.  


Best Regards,


Ben R & F


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Quick Links… 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

View our videos on YouTube  Find us on Facebook  View our profile on LinkedIn  Follow us on Twitter  Visit our blog

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Website  

Full Schedule 

Myspace Page 

Online Purchase of CDs and T-Shirts 

Contact Information

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email: ben  AT  benrudnick.com
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Ben Rudnick and Friends
TICO, TICO, TICO
March 4, 2014 

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Hello,

I hope all is well. The lion of March is upon us. The lamb is sure to follow!

TICO AGAIN?!?
Well… yes. These Saturday morning TICO/Family Works shows are great for so many reasons. In no particular order they’re just wonderful because:
  • the band gets to play through the winter in a comfortable place
  • the Family Works events are really working out. We’ve collected a strong amount of goods for people who can use the help 
  • the coffee is awesome
  • the food is awesome
  • it’s a great meet-up place for old friends 
  • new friends are made daily in a calm atmosphere
  • the kids have an art project, other kids, juice, food and music to dance to

Our last TICO / Family Works event was well attended and we yielded more goods than could fit in an SUV for Cradles to Crayons. Catching Joy was helping with the art project and had to make two trips to deliver the goods. That’s the vision in a nutshell. Fun for all and we helped people in need. THANK YOU if you were there.   

This week’s event will collect goods for Birthday Wishes

TICO POSTER - March 8, 2014

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TICO / FAMILY WORKS on SATURDAY Morning March 8  


WHERE
: TICO, 222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA    

PARKING: If you arrive early for the Family Works event, there is often parking available on the street. Bring some quarters! There is also a parking garage located conveniently in the building under TICO. The entrance is on St. James St, just off the corner of Berkeley. By T, The Arlington T station on the Green Line is the closest to TICO.


WHAT
: BR&F’s “living room,” great fun, great food and Family Works. 


MUSIC STARTS AT
: 11:00am 

FEE
: Free coffee, tea and juice. Brunch is available for a fee. Brunch is really good. 

PHONE: TICO’s phone is (617) 351-0400. Reservations recommended but not required.



FAMILY WORKS WILL BENEFIT
: Birthday Wishes 

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: The mission of Birthday Wishes is to provide birthday parties for homeless children. They believe that all children, regardless of their living situation, should celebrate their birthdays joyfully, surrounded by family, friends, and others who care.  

TIME: The Family Works! event will run from 10:00am until the band starts playing at 11:00am. You can participate at any point.

CRAFT: Catching Joy will supply art materials and help kids to make a cool craft. 

WE WILL COLLECT:  Birthday Wishes needs us to donate NEW items only.

  • Wrapping paper (birthday-themed & solid color)
  • Sports equipment (no shoes)
  • Red Sox baseball hats & t-shirts
  • Board games
  • Books for teens
  • Toddler gifts
  • Board books
  • Generic birthday candles
  • AA & AAA Batteries
  • Craft activity kits
  • Solid-color & birthday-themed tablecloths
  • Balloons
  • Reusable party games & activities
  • $25-$35 gift cards for teens (Target, Old Navy, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Forever 21, Game Stop, Dunkin Donuts, etc.)  
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Upcoming Shows
The rest of March and starting up April!
  • Saturday - March 22 - World Cafe at the Queen, Wilmington, Delaware
  • Saturday - March 29 - Morning - Winchester, MA
  • Saturday - March 29 - Afternoon - Needham, MA 
  • Saturday - April 5 - TICO/Family Works - Boston, MA 

More information for all shows is here. And just a reminder… you never have to participate in a Family Works event to enjoy the show.  


Best Regards,


Ben R & F


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Quick Links… 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

View our videos on YouTube  Find us on Facebook  View our profile on LinkedIn  Follow us on Twitter  Visit our blog

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Website  

Full Schedule 

Myspace Page 

Online Purchase of CDs and T-Shirts 

Contact Information

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email: ben   @    benrudnick.com - put it together!
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Sally Salamander in iPad Mibblio APP

I’m am proud to announce the release of our song Sally Salamander as a Mibblet. What’s a Mibblet you say? The creators of the iPad APP, Mibblio, take songs and create “Mibblets.” A Mibblet of a song is a beautiful visual rendition of a song. The visuals are displayed as the audio plays. The lyrics  are imbedded in the visuals. The really cool part is that the kids lucky enough to play with this app, can actually play along. Check it out…

image

As the band plays, an image is displayed. The keys at the bottom can be played. In this case the keys will sound like an accordion as that button above the keys is highlighted. The keys can also sound like a guitar or sax or any of the other buttons displayed above the keys. The piano type keys are always in the musical key of the song. The melody of the song can be played on the keys.


The strings on the right, over the word “Mibblio,” can be strummed! At the moment if they’re strummed they’ll sound like a harp. Other options include guitars, ukulele and even a banjo. When you strum, the “strings” will sound whatever chord currently matching what the band is playing at that part of the song. You can play along!


You can also tap along on the drum icons on the top right. Lastly you can “solo” different parts of the band by tapping the icons to the left.


I LOVE THIS. The images are are lovingly illustrated by Matthew Scott. Seeing a song I’ve written imagined visually is really quite a thrill. I’ve never met Matthew Scott but I look forward to that day.


If you have an iPad… download the Mibblio APP from the iTunes APP store. You will get to choose a free song. Sally Salamander is not one of the songs offered for free. HOWEVER… YOU can get the Sally Mibblet for free. When you are in the app, there is a gear on the top right. A box is displayed asking for a code. Enter this code:

4f35723d2e


Sally Salamander was originally on our Fun & Games CD released in 2002. The song also made our Live in Lexington disc. This version was recorded specifically for this app. So… this is a totally new recording of Sally Salamander. The musical personal are:

Ben Rudnick - acoustic guitar/vocal
Arnie Ashford - bass guitar/vocal
Jeff Bird - harmonica
Free Hallas - drums, percussion
John Zevos - mandolin/vocal

Here are a couple of other images:

image

image


This is pretty darn cool. Check it out!

Summer Shows - Good Details to Know

As most of the summer shows are outside, a couple of good things to consider are:

  • Bring…. food, snacks, a blanket, chairs, drinks.  - Some of these shows, whether one or two sets, are in just ideal locations where it is nice to have a comfortable place to sit or at least a blanket. Snacks and drinks are also a great idea.

     
  • Sun Screen and Bug Spray - it certainly can’t hurt to have sun screen and bug spray. They’re both in my bag!  

     
  • RAIN and LIGHTNING STORMS - can be a great source of frustration for us. It’s obviously hard to know what the weather will do. Often times a powerful storm is coming through and might run our show over but then again… it might not. We do the best we can given the need to protect you and ourselves from dangerous situations and also balance out the “try not to call it too soon” scenario. It’s generally beyond our control to make the call. Please know we’re doing our best to play when we’re supposed to. Sometimes it’s a tough call…..  One time I was standing in the blazing sun on the Natick, MA town green and could SEE, a terrible, violent storm going on over there. Another time a huge storm was called for Nashua, NH which has a stage with a metal structure. That show was called and the sun was shining at show time. Frustrating!

     
  • All the Information We Know About a Show - will be on our website. The latest, up to the minute information, however, will most likely be on the band’s Facebook page. As long as AT&T gives me a signal, I can post updates to Facebook. Once I head off for a show, I can’t update information on the website 
ASK BR&F - Our irregular feature where YOU can ask BR&F a question.

The Question: It seems like a number of your songs have some hints of sounds from some legendary musicians.  Some examples are “Ray” which has an Allman Brothers vibe, “A Frog Named Sam” which sounds like a Phish song, and “Spin” which sounds like the Grateful Dead’s “Not Fade Away” among many others.  Who are some of the musicians that you feel have had the biggest influence on shaping BR&F’s music?

This question comes to us from John K. of Merion Station, PA.

Ben Answers: Thanks for the question and right you are John! There are definitely some big influences from the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead. Guilty! Joining those two bands in the “strongest influence” category would have to be the Beatles. I’d say those three are the first line influences. Of course their influences come shining through as well! Sitting in the studio and pondering a decision on what to do with a song, the question “What would the Beatles do?” has come up more than once.

I wouldn’t site Phish as much of an influence at all. I was to busy listening to the Dead and never fell into Phish’s orbit.

The influences go quite a bit deeper of course. A major influence caught me after college when I met John and he brought me into the bluegrass band he was starting up. The influence there is purely stylistic rather than a specific musician though I was always partial to Flatt and Scruggs.

Flatt & Scruggs - Foggy Mountain Breakdown - Grand Ole Opry Classics
Flatt & Scruggs - Foggy Mountain Breakdown - Grand Ole Opry Classics
Old and in the Way and their choice of songs (such as Wild Horses) opened up the bluegrass world view and has had an impact on many besides me.

Old & in the Way / Wild Horses
Old & in the Way / Wild Horses
Bluegrass was an early cornerstone of BR&F. The first two discs included straight bluegrass style fiddle tunes. It was on our third disc, Blast Off, where you can start to hear the mutation in Martian Hoedown.  Songs like “Sally Salamander” on Fun and Games, while not a traditional bluegrass song, does come out of that boom-chuck (bass note-strum) world. It’s the variation on the style - deeper groove, slightly more complicated song structure, but retention of the “chop” - which make it “ours.”



Other big influences for me are Mark Knopfler/Dire Straits, Bob Marley, Surf music in general, Dylan, “Americana” in general and the list goes on and on.

Mark Knopfler - Punish The Monkey (GMTV Today)
Mark Knopfler - Punish The Monkey (GMTV Today)
One of the more recent influences is Bob Wills and Texas Swing. We incorporated the Texas Swing style strongly on our Superpower disc featuring Kenny Kosek on fiddle for four tunes.
Bob Wills - Take me back to Tulsa
Bob Wills - Take me back to Tulsa
It’s impossible to not include the influences from the “and Friends.” While John and I share so many influences he’d have to respond to this question from his own point of view. Arnie comes from a much more hard rock world (hello Rush) than John and I but also spent time in a barbershop quartet and inhaling Beach Boy harmonies which comes out good and strong. Jared spends a lot of time thinking about jazz drummers and also took many ques from Jeff Bird’s use of percussion on our early discs.

Lastly…  two major influences that aren’t as obvious but that I think have a lot to do with the BR&F “world view” are:

George Harrison - If you’re not familiar with George’s solo discs, I can’t recommend them enough. While George was surely responsible for chart toppers after the Beatles, his discs have the wonderful ability to make you happy. Listening to a George solo disc just simply leaves you in a better mood. I really believe our discs have that same quality.

George Harrison & Paul Simon - Here Comes The Sun
George Harrison & Paul Simon - Here Comes The Sun
Jerry Garcia - Probably way more obvious than George musically, and of course Jerry comes under the Grateful Dead umbrella, but it’s a little more than that. Jerry had the unique ability to inhabit and deliver a heartfelt song. I’ve really taken that lesson to heart and written my own heart out into the world. It’s what makes the “signature warmth” comment in the Parents’ Choice review mean so much to me. The expectation is that our discs have a warmth to them that goes beyond style of music. We traverse styles as often as Jerry did but I think it’s the distillation of intent that makes it all one long welcoming song. We play from the heart. While so many do I’d have to say I learned that lesson from Jerry.

Ben and Friends.
 
ASK BR&F: Who are the Arnie Ashford singers and how many are there?

This question comes to us from D.W. of Arlington, MA.

Good question. I’m an album note junkie. So… much to my wife’s amusement, whenever I get a new CD, I pore over the details of the tiny text. It was the same with albums. I’ve always been that way. Needless to say, our CDs all have tiny text. If you’re at all like me, or have the slightest interest in who has done what on our discs, you might have noticed the Arnie Ashford Singers. I’d have to check when we actually starting listing the Arnie Ashford Singers but probably the best example of this fine group is our song Grace’s Bell; the title track from our Grace’s Bell CD.

Grace's Bell CoverGrace’s Bell CD Cover

So who comprises the Arnie Ashford singers you ask? None other than our bass player Arnie. From our first disc, Emily Songs, through Love is A Superpower, Arnie has taken it upon himself to sing, sing and sing some more. Harmonies are his thing. In high school Arnie sang in a barbershop quartet, honing his ear and sense of harmony.

In the recording studio world that pretty much amounts to the words “give me another track.” Thanks to Les Paul who invented multi-track recording, that means we can stack notes upon notes and voice upon voice to make a big vocal sound from just Arnie alone. John and I add our voices as well but Arnie provides the wall of vocals. It’s one of the coolest parts of making our records and it is a wonderful skill. I’m glad Arnie is on our side.

Les Paul Demonstrates Multi-track RecordingLes Paul Demonstrates Multi-track Recording


On Grace’s Bell, if my memory serves me correctly, there are nineteen vocal tracks. I sang three of them and the rest is all Arnie. To put it into context, the Beatles had four tracks when they made Sgt. Pepper. FOUR.

The FOUR Tracks of Sgt. Pepper - This is very cool. The FOUR Tracks of Sgt. Pepper - This is very cool.


The Beach Boys, being in America, had eight. EIGHT. For those Beatles or Beach Boy albums, that means a lot of takes with multiple parts recorded all at once (until they’re PERFECT!) and a lot of juggling of those tracks. With digital/computer recording, tracks abound. “Give me another track” is no problem.

soundcloudClick to listen to Grace’s Bell

Lastly… all that said…. Grace’s Bell is a fun tune to play live and I think we do a good job of it with just the three voices!

ASK BR&F: Who’s Mark Yacovone?

This question comes to us from A.B. of Amherst, NH.

For those who’ve seen us play before 2008 or have any of the recordings from Fun and Games through It’s Santa Claus, you’ll know Mark Yacovone was a regular BR&F band member from 2002 until 2008.

Mark Yacovone at the Hatch ShellMark Yacovone with BR&F at Boston’s Hatch Shell.

A good friend… Mark and I were in a rock band in the early 1990’s called “The Eds.” 

In early 2002, I asked Mark if he could play some organ on the song Spin, which we were recording for the Fun and Games CD. The organ didn’t really work out but Mark had thrown his accordion in the car just in case. The accordion worked just fine! Needless to say, from that point on Mark really never left the band until… he left the band. Mark’s last show as a BR&F regular was July 11, 2008. The day we recorded Live in Lexington . The next day Mark moved to Mississippi. I really believe knowing Mark was leaving spurred us on to greater heights that evening making the Live in Lexington disc the gem that it is.
Mark Yacovone at Live in LexingtonMark Yacovone and his Tiger accordion on July 11, 2008.Mark still resides in Mississippi and is playing regularly with all kinds of great talent in all kinds of great situations. Additionally, Mark plays piano and keyboards in the house band for the Thacker Mountain Radio show. You can view some of Mark’s fine photography here.

Check out Mark at our 2005 visit to the Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City, NY.
Ben Rudnick and Friends: I Like Silver, I Like GoldBen Rudnick and Friends: I Like Silver, I Like Gold

ASK BR&F


Today’s question comes from SD in Arlington, MA. SD asks… 


» BR&F plays such an eclectic mix of music and your songs take listeners on the adventures of everything from amphibians to cowgirls to aliens.  I’d like to know what inspires you, in terms of songwriting.

Well… thank you for your question! As your question sort of intimates… the mix of music, topics from amphibians to aliens… saying “just about everything” would be a bit pithy but really not off the mark. One of the very cool things about being in this “family music” space, even on the left most fringe as we seem to be, is that it really allows us the ability to express ourselves in just about any style we want and discourse on just about anything we see fit. It’s unbelievably freeing. 

That said… for me, being open to the possibility of writing new songs is important. Once I’m open to the process, it’s amazing how many songs just seem to present themselves. Ideas come in from 360 degrees of possibility….
  • Something like I got a new friend, he’s an alien might have come from Emily mentioning she found a new friend at school and me extrapolating on that just a little.  

  • Cowgirl Song and it’s “yippie-yi-yo-kayee” comes from me loving that phrase as a kid and watching the Die Hard movies as an adult.   

  • A Frog Named Sam comes from me wanting to sing a song like Mark Knopfler’s Punish The Monkey.  If you listen to his song, there is really nothing similar about the songs at all. They do both have a neat drum beat thing going but for content, point of view, etc, etc, etc there are no similarities. I just happen to land on “frog,” gave said frog a name and thought how cool a chorus of frog’s singing “boom, boom, boom etc” would be. Knofpler’s song was a trigger and you can see how far I went off the rails.   

  • One of my favorites of the new song crop is Where Are the Dragons. In this case I had been reading Keith Richards book, Life, was in the flavor of how quickly and irreverently Keith and Mick wrote songs (see “When the Whip Comes Down”) and with a postcard freshly received in the mail went from “WhereThereBeDragons.com” to “Where Are The Dragons?” It was a fun song to write.     

THIS…

image WhereThereBeDragons.com
 

BECAME….
image

Where Are The Dragons?

All that said, two other points for maybe another day are:
 
1) there’s a big rhythmic quotient for me. SAM clearly has a strong rhythm. Sally Salamander has a deep groove. There has to be a big groove somewhere in the song for me. And…

2) at this point, framing a song in a certain style seems to be a choice. Putting Love is a Superpower in a Curtis Mayfield Superfly vibe was a choice. Putting the song in a totally different style would have been totally possible but that’s not what I chose to do.

 Have a “Ask BR&F” question? Ask it.
ASK BR&F - How do you know the Cowboy Junkies? How’d they get on your recordings?

This comes to us from H.D. in Arlington, MA.


Well… a LONG time ago, like 25 years and five months ago… I was jaunting through Europe and ran into Sue Smith and her mom on the the late night train tracks of Geneva, Switzerland. Sue’s mom was having a minor freakout as her job was to find the train car we would all overnight in on our journey to Nice, France. The thing was the train car didn’t exist and Sue’s mother’s freakout was escalating. Somehow I made her laugh, we got squared away and the rest is history. Sue’s significant other, then and now, is Jeff Bird the fifth Cowboy Junkie. After returning to the states, and catching up with my new friend Sue, she told me the Junkies had just released their new album, Trinity Sessions which was soon to be a big deal. I went down to the old Boston club Nightstage, knocked on the back door and ultimately met Jeff and the rest of the couldn’t-be-nicer Canadian band, Cowboy Junkies.

When we started recording Emily Songs in 2000, at some point I hit upon the idea to go up to Canada and visit Jeff to add harmonica, percussion and Jeff “bits” to the recording.

Jeff, Sue and BenJeff Bird, Sue Smith and Ben circa 2000 in Guelph, Ontario

Jeff has been on just about every BR&F disc since, played at our tenth Anniversary show and most recently produced the video for the song Scribbling from our Love is a Superpower album.

Jeff Bird and BR&F - Tenth Anniversary Show - I Got A New Friend Jeff Bird (harmonica) & BR&F - 10th Anniv. Show
~ I Got A New Friend ~ 


Scribbling by BR&F and produced by Jeff Bird Scribbling by BR&F - Produced by Jeff Bird 

Jeff is one of those guys that just makes every situation better. He’s a lovely guy and I’m glad to call him my friend. Jeff has a website

About Margo Timmins, singer of the Cowboy Junkies -

Margo Timmins 
Margo Timmins

Fun and Games CD Cover 
Cover - Fun and Games

When we got to the Fun and Games recording, I hit upon the idea of having Margo sing a song or two. She ended up singing Everything is Alright ( In. One. Take. ) which really is worth the price of the album all by itself. The thought was to also have her sing Sally Salamander but as she said, it just wasn’t in her to do. Me… I thought it would have been really fun to have Margo and her incredible voice, known for mostly dark songs, sing about Sally’s travails with the food chain.

Listen to Margo Timmins sing “Everything is Alright”
Ask BR&F: What instrument IS John playing?

This is the first installment of a new series we’re doing… “Ask BR&F.”

This question comes to us from A. Susser of Medford, MA and it is a question that we get on a fairly regular basis. John is playing a Mandolin. The mandolin, or more affectionately “mando,” is a member of the lute family and is strung like a violin So… if you can play a violin, the mandolin would be a good instrument to try! The mandolin was popularized by Bill Monroe, pioneer of the bluegrass genre of music.

John’s mandolin was made by Max Girouard in Contoocook, NH. It’s based on the shape of Jerry Garcia’s guitar named Tiger. We all love John’s mandolin.

image

Chicken Soup Ballad

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Love is a Superpower is available with free shipping on our website, benrudnick.com, via download on iTunes and on Amazon.
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One of the goals when I set out to record this new album, Love is a Superpower, was to have videos to go with some of the songs. The video for A Frog Named Sam has been popular and I firmly believe it has found fans for the band, although that’s sort of hard to quantify. That said, it’s a video-on-demand society and the world is looking for content, content, and more content. As entertainers, we’re here to entertain AND to provide content!

We will have videos to go with three of the new tunes. The videos for Chicken Soup Ballad and Scribbling are already done. A video for the title track should be done within a couple of weeks. This week I’m writing about Chicken Soup Ballad.

Chicken Soup Ballad

This video was conceived and created by Ben Albarelli. I found Ben through the intern office of Boston University’s Center For Digital Imaging Arts. Simon Werdmuller von Elgg, who did the SAM video, also went through this program.

Initially I sent Ben all the tracks and let him choose which song he felt would be the best for his particular brand of animation. Chicken Soup Ballad was his first choice.

About the Song

Uhh… it’s about chicken soup! Its point of view is from inside the refrigerator! I guess if I was asked (instead of just blogging as we do in the 2010’s), there would be two main influences here and I can guarantee you, GUARANTEE, that these two influences have never (never, ever, never) been used in the same sentence. Ready… drumroll… Bob Dylan and Veggietales.  Of course Dylan and Veggietales are both sort of religious at times so they have that in common. But that’s a point for another day.

The Dylan influence is those great songs where he catalogues about a Gone-with-the-Wind-sized novel’s worth of characters in six minutes, and you ultimately don’t really know what happened in the song—although it usually feels sinister with a shot of redemption at best. The songs often feel like run-on sentences. Examples would be Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts or Black Diamond Bay. I love those songs!

Chicken Soup Ballad has way fewer characters than the Dylan songs and they’re really all accounted for by the end of the song. They sort of all end up in the soup. Which begs the immediate question of “Ben… the chicken and veggies all wind up D*E*A*D.” Well… okay. Yes. But you don’t see that in the video. And ultimately, my logic is, everything has a purpose and our fowl and veggies have embraced that. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. And if the kids want to know, we haven’t named  the chicken.

The second influence is of course the cartoon characters of Veggietales. Emily and I used to watch these cartoons when she was young. More often than not they were quite entertaining.

A third influence is the song Cumberland Blues from the Grateful Dead. Jam in G!

Workingman's Dead cover

One of the highlights for me in the tune is the playing of Boston-based guitarist Tony Savarino. Tony plays a b-bender guitar, which provides a real pedal-steel guitar sound. Basically you pull on a spring retrofitted into your guitar (usually a Telecaster) via the guitar strap, which bends the guitar’s b string. You can hear this mostly in the background along with some other “hot” licks between the lyrics. I did play the guitar solos but Tony makes it all sound a cut above!

B-Bender Telecaster

My favorite part of the video is—hands down—the guitar solo. John says he likes this, too, since the mustard actually uses a pick and one of his mustard fingers just like I did when I played the solo originally. I actually sent Ben a video of my hand while playing the solo!

And speaking of the mustard, we thought long and hard about what, or more specifically, who, the mustard should look like! John Lennon (Mean Mr. Mustard)!?! Jerry Garcia!??! Ultimately we settled on Joe Walsh! Check it out.

Joe Walsh







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Love is a Superpower is available with free shipping on our website, benrudnick.com, via download on iTunes and on Amazon.
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Love is a Superpower

Hello Blog Readers,

Again, it’s been awhile since my last blog post but friends are urging me to write about the band’s new recording, Love is a Superpower. Where the songs come from. Who the influences are and the cool insider stuff that only I would know. In this hyper-linked, content driven era, it feels like the thing to do. The idea is that this is post number one of a series of posts explaining how Love is a Superpower came to be.

First a couple of facts:

  • The CD is to be officially released on Tuesday, September 25,2012.

  • The disc is 44 minutes and 11 seconds long.

  • There are 13 songs. I wrote nine of them, John wrote two, George Harrison wrote one and one song is traditional.

  • Twenty-five musicians took part in making this recording.

  • Several of the players have been in bands supporting very high profile entertainers including Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Jerry Garcia, Willie Nelson, Lou Rawls, James Taylor, The Temptations and Stevie Wonder.

  • We started recording on January 9, 2011. We shipped the disc to manufacturing on July 12, 2012.

Where’d the Love Is A Superpower idea come from?

Well… I get A LOT of my ideas for songs while I’m cycling. Once I get in the zone, my mind gets clear and as often happens, songs or ideas for songs come to the forefront. This is sort of a classic case. I was thinking what superpower I wish I had - you know, like you do - and thought “wouldn’t it be cool if spreading love was a superpower,” briefly thought “wait a minute, that’s been done” (see “Son of God”), rapidly envisioned a caped figure, “LOVE MAN,”  and the rest sort of took care of itself.

The lyrics came fairly quickly although as usual tweaks happened almost to the end as I was trying to cram words in amongst all the music tracks. Also getting just the right lilt to a line changes a word here or there.

Why does the song sound like a soul tune from the 70’s?

Because soul tunes, more specifically blaxploitation tunes from the 70’s, are really just about as cool as you could get. Killer guitar parts, tight bass lines, horns that mean what they say and lots of no nonsense vibe. It’s what I heard in my head as soon as the song started coming together. At this point I actually started buying up 70’s discs by the amazon.com box full. Research! Tax write-off! Great work if you can get it! The tune that really stuck with me was the theme from Superfly. I now have a Curtis Mayfield addiction. Check it out!

Horns and what else?

So yea… we’ve got BR&F friend Rob Lee on tenor sax and a couple of his friends, Jon Garniss on trombone and Rick Hammett on trumpet. Jon has played with the likes of The O’Jays, Tony Bennett and Lou Rawls. Rick has played with Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and The Temptations. Serious entertainers.

Besides the horns there is the WAH-WAH pedal. Eric Clapton (demonstrating wah-wah pedal ie: CLASSIC) used it to great effect on White Room and Jimi Hendrix had a go on Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).  It’s tough to have a 70’s soul tune without some killer wacka-wacka wah guitar action.

Sitar?

Well. Yes. The middle section of the song turned into John Lennon love, love, love territory. There’s probably six or more strumming acoustic guitars but what the song really needed there to capture the Summer of Love in all its glory was a sitar! One email to Boston based guitar slinger Tony Savarino later, who actually has a sitar guitar, and voila! I think Tony has the sitar guitar because he used to play in the Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra.


Sitar Guitar

Chick Singers!

I cannot be more proud of the harmonies found on the BR&F records. Chiefly, the Arnie Ashford Singers are why the harmonies on our records and this song are so good. The Arnie Ashford Singers are comprised of Arnie and the power of multi-tracking given to us by Les Paul himself. For this particular tune however, I kept hearing the need for female voices. We got that with Maureen Murphy and Sharon Shenkar.


Les Paul and his multi-track recorder.

Maureen sings harmonies throughout and is featured on the baroquian figure in the middle “give love” section. From the rough recording we gave her before she came to the studio to sing, Maureen had that section all ready to go. Very cool!

Sharon is the first, wonderfully warm, voice you hear on the song and sings along with me throughout providing vocal counter point. Sharon’s vocal was the last recorded part on the song. It turns out Sharon and I grew up within the same realm of time in NYC and have quite a similar frame of reference regarding major events of the day. Hello… Son of Sam. The Bronx is Burning. Etc. Having Sharon in the studio was like spending time with a long lost friend. Sharon knew EXACTLY the vibe I was going for.

The Artwork

Lastly, it’s become quite hard to talk about the song without mentioning the album’s artwork. I’ve met with people in the know about making albums in this very crowded family music space. The message was always “brand, brand, brand.” As far as album artwork goes, that means all the covers of all the discs we make should be sort of similar. Branded. Seeing as it’s too late for that, and seeing as it’s not my way, the cover is quite a bit distant from the A Frog Named Sam album cover.

Three words: Bob von Elgg. Bob was introduced to me by a mutual friend as someone who could do the Emily Songs artwork. Bob has done EVERYTHING ever since. From the website to the t-shirts. I think the cover is remarkable for all kinds of reasons. One is that the heart is not overtly feminine. Face it… we’re a bunch of guys playing music. Having an overtly feminine heart wouldn’t have worked. Also, the heart itself seems like it’s pulsating with energy. One great feature of the cover is that you like it and you don’t really care what the music sounds like! The cover is of course the final version of the artwork. Check out the initial take on this cover and the alternate version.


First rough draft of the heart cover.


An alternate path not taken.

QUESTIONS?

Questions about the song? Send them in.

WIN A COPY OF THE CD

You can win a copy of the disc. All you have to do is respond to the Facebook entry for this blog post and tell me which incredibly well known guitar player I borrowed a key lick from in the solo. I’ll put the answer in the next installment of the blog.