Thursday, February 26, 2015

Another GREAT NIGHT at TOAD!!!

I just wanted to mention quickly what a great time we had at Toad in Cambridge last week! Despite it being very cold and snowy out, we had an excellent turnout - lot's of people crammed in there, danced the night away and some folks even stayed right up to the very end of the night.


It was unusual for us to be there on a Saturday night as we typically play there on Friday nights, so we found ourselves playing for some new faces and meeting some new folks. Any night of the week it's always a good time at Toad, and we're extremely grateful to the good folks over there for having us back so often!

You can catch us there again next month on Friday March 20th. Then for you north-shore folks you can see us at Brodie's Seaport Cafe in Salem, MA on the following Friday March 27th. I look forward to grooving with you real soon!


DISCO PHASES

Browsing through www.facebook.com today I came across a really cool article called "The Phases of Disco" on djalexgutierrez.com. It's all about how during the "disco craze" of the late 1970s and early 1980s, different artists from various countries and cultures around the world added their own local flavor to the disco sound, making it their own. There are lot's of really cool clips too, you should check it out:




Those who know me well know that I was born into the disco era and grew up listening to the funky disco sounds that were all around me. I love 1970s and early 1980s disco music and I am proud of it! I feel like this is pretty evident in the music that I make; you can really get a sense of the "disco flavor" in the B side track to my latest single called "Waiting For Me." I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Friday, February 20, 2015

NEW SINGLE and SHOW TOMORROW NIGHT!!!

As promised my new single is now ready for download from bandcamp.com! It's called "Beautiful Stranger" and it is a duet with my good friend Lydia Harrell (aka Lovely Singer.) Check it out:



The single also contains a "flip side" song called "Waiting For Me." Both tracks were recorded, engineered, mixed and mastered by a talented young engineer named Tim Phillips at his studio called Phillips Sound in Rowley, MA. Also featured on the recording is Pat Loomis on sax, Eric Vincent on guitar and my old buddy 'Cowboy' Ben Alman on the bass. Cowboy, Eric and I along with Zeke Martin will be throwing down some live funk at Toad tomorrow night, Saturday February 21st at 10 pm. It's been a little while since we've played out live as I've been really focused on writing and recording lately, but it's always a lot of fun to get out there and jam live with the band. We hope you will come and join us! 




I'd just like to take this opportunity to really thank everyone who helped me get these songs together; Lydia, Eric, Ben, Tim and Pat - you are all fantastic and I am truly privileged to be working with you all! I also really want to thank everyone who has shown their love and support for me and my music over the years. You all have made it possible for me to follow my dreams and do what I do, and I am so grateful! I really hope that you enjoy this music, and there is so much more that I have in store for you all - I am so excited and I can hardly wait to show you all what I have coming up next!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

NEW SHOWS ADDED and UPDATES

Happy New Year! The band and I are looking forward to playing lots of funky shows this year, and we hope you will be able to join us. I have just added a few new dates to the schedule, and more will be forthcoming soon. Take a look:






Check back here often and look at the "TOUR DATES" page for any and all updates on our live performances.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a new single will be released very soon, a duet with my friend Lydia Harrell (aka Lovely Singer) called "Beautiful Stranger" and my very first full length album won't be far behind. Lots of exciting stuff coming up soon, so please stay tuned!

Don't forget that you can still download my most recent single "Friday Night" for FREE on Band Camp. Check out the link right here:





Stay funky, y'all... Hope to see you soon!

Friday, December 12, 2014

"FRIDAY NIGHT" FREE DOWNLOAD!!!

Well it's been a long time coming, but the day is finally here. It's been almost seven years since I released my last single, and it's taken me nearly a year to work out the kinks on this latest single. If you've been to one of my shows in the last year you've likely heard me play the song "Friday Night," a catchy sing-along dance track with a smooth groove. It's been streaming on my web site for some time, and I've gotten lots of good responses from that.

Now the track has been remixed and mastered, thanks to a very talented young engineer named Tim Phillips who I am really excited to be working with, and the tune is finally available for download. Here is the best part: it's FREE!

I wanted to make this song available for free as a way of saying THANK YOU to all of the good people who have supported and encouraged me over the years. During this time of the year, the season of giving, what better way to show your appreciation for someone than with a gift of music?

Please click on the link below to download the song today from Bandcamp.com, and by all means please feel free to share the link with anyone whom you think might also enjoy the track. Here it is:





Another new single is not far behind; the duet I recorded with Lydia Harrell is in the final stages of mixing and will be available very soon. A full length album (my first solo album!) is set be released in the spring of 2015. I will be keeping you all updated on the progress of that right here at www.bigbenhillman.com!

I'd like to wish to you and yours a very Happy Holiday Season, and I hope that this song helps to make your Friday nights a little funkier! Download it today and crank it up tonight when you get out of work, hit up that happy hour or just chill at home with someone you care about. Take care of yourselves, and I'll see you all next FRIDAY DECEMBER 19th at TOAD in Cambridge, MA. Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A SHOUT OUT to JEREMY PARKER and his STEREO DIPOLE AMP

In my last blog post on November 29th I neglected to send my thanks to an old friend of mine who was at the show, a man named Jeremy Parker. I've known Jeremy since we were in college together back at U Mass Lowell (I won't say just how long ago it was exactly; we'll just say that the year started with a '19' and leave it at that.) Some of you probably know Jeremy as an organist, playing with the Boston Horns among countless others, including his own solo project (for which I have been told a new recording is in the works.) What you might not know is that Jeremy is also a rather brilliant audio and electrical engineer, who in his spare time builds some pretty spectacular contraptions.

The more astute listeners at the last show I did at Toad may have noticed I had a slightly different sound to my keyboards. That is because Jeremy had contacted me earlier in the week and asked me if I would be interested in trying out a new amplifier he had built. He told me he had built an amp which would help to simulate the stereo effect you used to be able to get out of the old suitacase Rhodes pianos, such as it was used by some of my favorite artists like Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder and many others.

Picture of a Suitcase Fender Rhodes electric piano
When I asked Jeremy to describe his creation for me, he told me he calls it a Stereo Dipole Amp and that it's purpose is to take two stereo channels and project a 360 degree sound field. When we plugged my Yamaha P95 into the amp, by way of my effects rig (a phase shifter, stereo chorus, plus a stereo vibrato pedal that Jeremy provided) the similarity to the feel and sound of the stereo Suitcase Rhodes was really remarkable.

Here is a close up photo of Jeremy Parker's Stereo Dipole Amplifier.

It didn't have quite as much volume capacity (loudness) as the amp I typically use, which is a very basic but effective Peavy KB100, nor did it have the low end frequency that I am accustomed to using for my bass synth sounds. However I was very impressed by its overall tone as well as it's design. I think that this amp has the potential to be a very effective substitution for the very large and heavy Suitcase Rhodes, especially if it were to run through a larger sound system either by miking it or a direct line out. 

In any case I was very grateful to be one of the first people that Jeremy chose to try out this new amplifier, and I really had a lot of fun playing it. He said he was going to try and get a few more people to try it out, including some Hammond organ players as it could prove also to be a suitable stand in for a Leslie speaker as well. I will certainly be very curious to hear some other players use it as well as their feedback, and I really wish my friend Jeremy a lot of success with this really cool piece of gear!

Playing at Toad on November 14, 2014 and using the Stereo Dipole Amp.

In other news: if anyone in the Lowell area was planning to come see us play at The Back Page this coming Friday night, I am sorry to have to say that due to circumstances beyond my control I had to cancel that show. It's quite disappointing as it has really been quite a long time since we've been able to get back into this very cool space, and I can only hope that we will be able to reschedule as soon as possible!

In the meantime, if you want to check us out again you can come see us play at Toad in Porter Square, Cambridge on FRIDAY DECEMBER 19th. Hope to see you all there!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

THANKS, GRATITUDE and UPCOMING JAMS

I hope that everyone out there had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with the people they love and care about most. Just wanted to drop a quick recap of things gone by, update of things to come and a little bit of love and gratitude for some of the good people and things in my life. 

It was another successful and fun filled evening at TOAD a few weeks ago. I am so grateful to all of the good folks who come out to party down with us, I am very grateful to Billy Beard, the venue and the wonderful staff at TOAD for continuing to have us back and giving us so much great support!

Of course I am very thankful to the many great players that I get to make music with. For this past gig we had Eric Vincent on guitar, Erick Cifuentes on drums and Daniel McDowell on bass. These guys sound great together and are all really cool - I am happy to say that they will be playing with me on my next engagement at TOAD which will be on FRIDAY DECEMBER 19th!  

My sister Meredith came by the show, which was a really pleasant surprise as she lives a good two hours away from Boston. I was glad she could be there to share in the good times with us, and she even took a couple of decent photos. Here's one of them:

Big Ben and the crew at Toad on November 14, 2014. l-r: Eric Vincent on guitar, Daniel McDowell on bass, Big Ben on keys and vocals and Erick Cifuentes on drums.


I want to give props to my friend artist Carol Barenberg for her support. She came to the last gig and brought her video camera and took some cool footage. It's hard to get good lighting in there sometimes, but Carol's friend and video editor Mike has done a good job of restoring the footage so that its easier to see, and the sound is actually pretty good.

There is still a lot of footage to sort through and edit, but there has been one clip posted to YouTube already. It's a brief snippet of my piano solo at the end of my original tune called "Chemical Brothers." You can peep it out here:

video



As you can see, we have a good time over there at TOAD. If you haven't been yet, grab some friends and come on through! Again, we'll be back there on FRIDAY DECEMBER 19th. You can also catch the band up in Salem on DECEMBER 27th at BRODIE'S SEAPORT CAFE. Hope to see you all there!

Before I end this post, I have give shout outs to one more person who I am grateful for: my girlfriend Barbra DesLauriers. She has been a tireless supporter of me and my art both, and I don't know what I would do without her. Whether its coming out to a show to cheer me on, come pick me up in Boston at 2 am after my car gets towed (true story!) or just sit and listen to me ramble on about all my crazy ideas and dreams, she really is a special person and I am really glad she's in my life.

Be well and be blessed, everyone! Hope to see you all real soon.