About Benyaro

The Cover EP

Indie acoustic roots and soul power duo BENYARO will release The Cover EP, a small collection of cover songs, on July 24, 2012. It is their third release.

Recorded in a cabin at the base of The Tetons in Jackson Hole, WY during the spring of 2012, the EP will feature completely acoustic arrangements of songs written and/or performed by the late Sam Cooke, the late Etta James, Moby, Procol Harum, the late Blaze Foley and The Coasters. The EP pays tribute to “some of the greatest performers and songs of our time who have deeply influenced who we are as musicians,” according to Benyaro lead singer and guitarist, Ben Musser. “We hope the EP will reinvigorate the lives of some great songs and in some cases, reintroduce songs that slipped through the cracks back when. I think the public will take to the collection because it spans the genres of soul, R&B, classic rock, country and even ambient electronica. We came up with our own arrangements then proceeded to unleash Benyaro’s energy and passion onto the songs, and we’re very proud of what we came up with.”

With 2 original releases under their belt, Benyaro has earned a reputation for taking chances both in the studio; where screaming vocals, falsettos, beatboxing, minimalist drumming, and strictly acoustic arrangements that feature nylon string guitar and upright bass are employed; and on stage; where guitar, upright bass, kick drum, shaker, hi hat, harmonica and vocals are performed proficiently and simultaneously by only 2 performers. The Cover EP stays true to Benyaro’s quest to push music, as an art, forward.

The Cover EP is a fully acoustic experience that showcases the strong, rich voice of Ben Musser as well as the up-and-coming voice of upright bassist Bobby McCullough, who steps into supporting roles on such classics as Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me” (1962) and The Coasters’ “What About Us” (1959), seamlessly. The album features an unprecedented version of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (1967) in ¾, a completely acoustic version of Moby’s electronic masterpiece “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” (1999), a gender-bending version of Etta James’ slow, tantalizingly provocative take on “Don’t Lose Your Good Thing” (1968), as well as a down-but-not-out rendition of Blaze Foley’s nod to new beginnings, “Clay Pigeons” (unknown release).

The album is self produced and there are no guest musicians as Musser and McCullough play all the instruments on the album, from nylon, steel and 12-string acoustic guitars to voice, string bass, piano, toy piano, drums, percussion and harmonica.

Sonny Ratcliff, engineer/producer/instrumentalist of Brooklyn, NY, added his mixing, sound engineering and arranging skills to The Cover EP. The trio of Musser, McCullough and Ratcliff produces a powerful creative team who push the boundaries of acoustic music with this collection of songs. The album drops July 24 when Benyaro kicks off its Summer EP Release Tour in Boise, ID followed by 5 weeks of tour dates across the Rocky Mountains, Northern California, and Pacific Northwest supporting Langhorne Slim & The Law, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers for 3 nights, Jessica Lea Mayfield, and Robert Randolph and the Family Band, among others. While on tour, Team Clermont (R.E.M., The Avett Brothers, Wilco) will promote The Cover EP to Americana and AAA Radio. Head to Benyaro.com to see the tour schedule and find out where you can catch an EP Release show this summer.

The Story of Good Day Better – 2010

Brooklyn based acoustic roots/soul band, Benyaro, follows up its self-released, self-titled, nationally charting (CMJ) debut album with Good Day Better. The album dropped March 24, 2010 in New York City.

Recorded in Charlottesville, Virginia and New York, New York in the brutal winter of 2010, Good Day Better features Ben Musser’s strongest offering of original material to date and classic songs penned by Scott Claassen, Malcolm Holcombe and Diana Jones.

Good Day Better unpredictably explores and expands the boundaries of acoustic music offering 12 tracks ranging from gospel, folk, country, rock, blues, and soul to beatboxing/house. The songs are inspired by family, places, pets, lovers and draw on the emotions that exist from engaging in such relationships. Such sentiments are unequivocally reflected in Musser’s vocal performances which overflow with feeling while the beautiful, vulnerable, yet occasionally stern vocals of Meg Chamberlin perfectly offset the masculinity of Musser’s and Bobby McCullough’s voices.

In a time when name dropping who worked on your record seems more important than the sounds and songs on it, Good Day Better was produced by Musser, Benyaro founder, instrumentalist and primary writer, in a way that utilized the uniqueness of the group. For the first time the sounds and influences of upright bassist and back up vocalist Bobby McCullough can be heard adding to the sound that is Benyaro. The new collaboration between Musser and McCullough produced extraordinary arrangements and a multi-dimensional album with the potential of appealing to millions of listeners hungry for new music. The engineering of Jamal Millner, (Charlottesville area musician/ producer) and Gar Ragland (New York City area producer/musician) helped to further create an environment of independence from formulaic approaches to making music. Tony Shimkin (Noble Media) and Musser mixed the album with the same principles in mind.

In the end we are left with Good Day Better, a truly independent album that makes a strong case for acoustic music in a period dominated by electric sounds, imitation and one-dimensional ideas. Good Day Better attempts to create music for today, contrary to numerous Brooklyn-based acts who are hoping to re-create music of the past. Genuine artists have a responsibility to move art, in this case, music, forward… and not backward to an era that is gone. Respecting listeners by offering them something new and unique while simultaneously treating them to touches of familiarity along the way was a constant concern and goal of Musser’s. One can hear such ideals when listening through Good Day Better.

Team Clermont hears this. The selective independent radio promoters from Athens, Georgia who work with The Avett Brothers, Jenny Lewis, REM, David Byrne, Low Lows, Magnetic Fields, Rachel Yamagata, Punch Brothers, Tobias Froberg, and many others chose to work with Benyaro and help get Good Day Better to more listeners via radio.

In the press, Relix magazine, Nashville Scene, and many other daily/weekly newspapers across the country hear this, as well.

In 2010, Benyaro performed to hundreds of eager, newly inspired fans across the country from New York to Seattle, San Francisco to New Orleans, and everywhere in between. In 2011 Benyaro continues to tour in support of Good Day Better performing at prep-schools and universities in the east and supporting Anders Osborne and The Stone

Foxes, in the west.

Benyaro’s live show is filled with strong singing and the same chances they take in the recording studio, though they replace the drummer (Musser) by assigning their limbs responsibilities of hihat (McCullough), shaker and kick drum (Musser), and sometimes tambourine (Chamberlin). Musser and McCullough will tour mostly as a duo as they did in 2009/2010, closing for The Avett Brothers, sharing the stage with Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers, and opening for Jill Andrews of the Everybodyfields, Gregory Alan Isakov, Dangermuffin and Danielle ate the Sandwich. It has been said you’ll never hear as much sound come from 2 people as you will when you hear them perform together. Head out to one of Benyaro’s many shows this fall and listen to what people are talking about.

The Story of Benyaro, the debut album – 2008

It was 2004 and Ben Musser had just moved from Austin, TX to New York City looking to put together an act that had been ringing in his ears his whole life. Leaving behind projects as the drummer for Ross Flournoy (The Broken West) and Scott Claassen (Scott Claassen, The Broken West), Ben headed east where he knew only an artist manager and his sister, an accomplished singer.
Musser took a job with the artist manager and promptly discovered that working for their client, North Carolina troubadour, Malcolm Holcombe, would change his musical world forever.  He jammed with Holcombe whenever he could and began studying his voice, his guitar playing and his songs. Along with these new influences, working for Holcombe armed Musser with connections in and a deep knowledge of the “roots” music business.

After meeting Holcombe, Musser began studying the voices of Wilson Pickett and Ray Charles and intensely working on his own.  He was soon loaded with a strong voice, a new guitar-playing technique, and songs by Claassen, Flournoy, Holcombe, as well as some of his own. Now a frontman, Musser needed a bandmate. His sister was a new mom so Musser found upright bassist Tucker Yaro on craigslist in the spring of 2005.  They called themselves Benyaro.

Ben looked to his boss, the artist manager, for help. She believed he had a gift and told him they should hone their skills on the subway platforms. If they drew crowds consistently, they knew they had something. Drawing crowds came easier than Ben thought possible. Benyaro quickly became a favorite of the cops on the station beat.

Musser finally saw it was time to have his sister, Meg Chamberlin, step in with her sweet and powerful voice. The trio began booking in Austin, Nashville, Atlanta, Chicago, DC, Charlotte, Philly, Richmond, Charlottesville, etc. via word of mouth with no demo to hand to bookers or promoters. They became at once a critic’s pick and a crowd pleaser. Benyaro supported the legendary Malcolm Holcombe in Boston, NYC and in Johnson City, TN.

A year and a half later Benyaro saved enough money to record a self-released, self-titled debut album which is now available at shows, on iTunes, CD Baby and across the internet. The project is produced by Ben Musser and features the trio performing material written by Musser, Claassen, Holcombe and Flournoy. Team Clermont (White Stripes, Flaming Lips, Death Cab, Avett Brothers, Jose Gonzalez, etc.) helped promote the album on radio and on February 23, 2009 “Benyaro” reached #161 on the CMJ Top 200 chart, several spots above Ray LaMontagne, M. Ward, Medeski, Martin and Wood, and many other great, “signed” acts. The album continues to receive great press and airplay at stations across the country.

To promote the debut album, Musser spent 17 weeks on the road, solo, in 2008. Ben needed support on the road and upright bassist Bobby McCullough answered the call.  He is now the upright bassist of Benyaro.

So far in 2009, Benyaro has performed over 90 shows including 20 radio performances and “on-airs” to hundreds of fans across the country. They have closed for The Avett Brothers, shared the stage with Ramseur Records recording artist Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers, and will open for Jill Andrews of The Everybodyfields (Ramseur) this fall before performing at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City.

This winter, Benyaro will record its anticipated second album, independently, and hopes to reach even more fans than its debut.

Catch a gig. Enjoy quality live music and pick up their acclaimed CD. Add it to your collection of quality music. You will play it addictively.