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.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

DATES ADDED TO CALENDAR!!!

Last Friday the band and I had one of the best nights so far playing at Toad in Cambridge! The house was packed all night long and there was nary a moment when there weren't people grooving to the beat. It was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to coming back and performing again at Toad on Friday November 14th. Be sure to mark your calendars and come on down; it's always a blast over there and you really don't want to miss out!

I am hoping that by that time my new single I am working on, the duet with Lydia Harrell called "Beautiful Stranger" will be ready to go and there will be download cards on hand. Keep your eyes and ears open for more information about that.

We we were supposed to go back and perform at Brodie's Seaport Cafe in Salem in November as well, but due to a scheduling conflict we had to move the date to Saturday December 27th. I am hoping that even though this is just a couple of days after Christmas that people will still be in a festive enough mood to come on out and shake their groove thang at this funky little spot in the Witch City.

To recap: you can catch us November 14th at Toad in Porter Square Cambridge, December 12th at The Back Page in Lowell (another super fun venue!) and December 27th at Brodie's Seaport Cafe in Salem, MA. As always you can always check out where the band and I will be right here at www.bigbenhillman.com!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

QUICK & DIRTY UPDATE

If you haven't figured it out by now, my band and I will no longer be affiliated with the jam session at The Safe. It's disappointing because I was looking forward to having a weekly residency at a local club, but upon further reflection I decided to give it up.

The main reason is that I am choosing to spend more of my time and energy right now on writing and recording. It's been a very busy and active summer, and the band and I have gotten to play some really cool shows. In the upcoming months we will still play, but not as often. So if you get a chance to come check us out live you should definitely jump on it, as it might be a while before you will be able to see us again.

I have been very fortunate to meet a really talented young engineer named Tim Phillips who has been helping me to record and mix the absolutely massive backlog of material I have composed over the last few years. It's hard to believe that it's nearly seven years since I put out something new; I think there was a time when I kind of fell off and had to find my voice again artistically. Now I am back and better than ever with a new sound and a fresh voice and I cannot wait to share my music with the world!

Not wanting to give too much away too soon, I will say that my next single release I have planned will be a duet with a very talented singer from the Boston area named Lydia Harrell. I have known Lydia for years, ever since the old Royal Family used to shows with her former band Hiptonic at places like the old Sky Bar in Somerville (gosh, do you remember that place?) However it is only very recently that Lydia and I have had the opportunity to actually work together on anything, having carved out a regular night at In A Pig's Eye in Salem, MA on the third Thursday of each month. Along with another old friend of mine and Royal Fam alum Yahuba Garcia, "LH3" as we are known throws down a funky mix or jazz, blues and random pop tunes.

Lydia Harrell and I at the studio.
Please keep your gaze focused here to bigbenhillman.com for updates on all my shows, recordings and releases - some very exciting stuff soon to come! As for the jam session at The Safe, I have been told that the torch has been passed down to some very talented young lions - you should go check them out and show your support if you get a chance.

You can check out my band at Toad in Porter Square Cambridge on Friday September 19th. Hope to see you all there!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Last night's JAM at THE SAFE

We were very pleased to see how many people came out on what may have been the RAINIEST night of the year to hang out and JAM OUT with us at THE SAFE in LOWELL, MA last night. Everyone really had a good time and there were definitely a few memorable musical moments.

Jam Session at The Safe in Lowell, MA on August 13, 2014 (photo by Barbra DesLauriers.)
I want to personally thank everyone who came out to show support, and I especially want to thank my friend D-TENSION for inviting us to perform at this really cool new venue.

As previously stated, there will be no jam session next week August 20th as old school HIP HOP legend KURTIS BLOW will be performing. We will resume the jam session on WEDNESDAY AUGUST 27th. Again I want to encourage all musicians to come on down and bring their instruments and help make this the HOTTEST JAM SESSION ever to hit the Bay State!

Before I go, one last reminder that you can check out the band THIS FRIDAY up in SALEM MA at BRODIE'S SEAPORT CAFE at 9 PM. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

FUNK PAINTING [BIG BEN REDUX]

So you all might remember back in March I made a blog post about a drawing that my friend Carol Barenberg was working on that was inspired by my tune "Friday Night." Carol likes to make time-lapsed videos that chronicle the creative process she goes through in making her artwork, often setting them to music.

Well she has posted another video, this time its for a painting she has created, and she chose to feature an "oldie" of mine from back in 2007 - the song "Look At Me" featuring my old buddy Meyer Statham.

video


Check it out, enjoy, leave a comment and pass it on to your friends.

Before I go, just a quick reminder that you can check out THE FUNK/JAZZ JAM SESSION tonight at THE SAFE in LOWELL MA, and you can also see us play at BRODIE'S SEAPORT CAFE in SALEM MA on FRIDAY the 15th. Stay FUNKY, people!