Watch & Listen
APRIL 2, 3, 2017 - MAUI CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
FEBRUARY 20 - yALE GUITAR EXTRAVAGANZA 2016
All-day event offers concerts, talks, and master classes, featuring Yale alumni
Guitar Extravaganza 2016: Celebrating YSM Alumni will take place Saturday, February 20, 2016. The event, which is presented every two to three years at the Yale School of Music, offers a daylong immersion in all things guitar: concerts, workshops, demonstrations, and more.
The headline performer is classical guitarist Marc Teicholz, hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “both technically gifted and musical to the core.” A faculty member of the San Francisco Conservatory, Teicholz will perform a solo recital at 8 pm in Morse Recital Hall.
Other concert artists include Duo Ditirambo (viola and guitar) and Z.o.o. guitar duo, both of which will perform in a 5:30 pm concert. Earlier in the afternoon, guitarists Daniel Corr and Max Zuckerman will team up for a 2 pm recital of solo repertoire. Everyone in this group of performers is a graduate of the Yale School of Music.
17th ANNUAL GUITAR CLASS ON THE ISLAND OF MAUI
Benjamin Verdery is excited to announce his 17th guitar class on the island of Maui in Hawaii from Tuesday, July 5 through Thursday, July 14, 2016. Joining him as guest teacher this year will be acclaimed guitarist and composer David Leisner, co-chair of the guitar department at the Manhattan School of Music. Joining again this year as guest ukulele teacher and ensemble assistant will be Hawaiian guitarist and ukulele player Ian O’Sullivan, currently on the faculty of the University of Hawaii.
For application process and complete information:
Ben Verdery's Maui Guitar Class
BILLY & BEN release HOOCHIE COOCHIE MAN
Billy Dean Thomas and I so enjoyed our collaboration on Black Bach and Start Now that over the summer we decided to go back and record three more tracks. Combined with the other two, we concluded it would make a wonderfully eclectic 5 song EP.
The question then arose, what to do next? I thought we should record something that was the polar opposite of Black Bach and Start Now. The legendary Blues classic Hoochie Coochie Man came immediately to mind. Truth be told, the blues was introduced to me early in my musical development because I had older brothers, and I lived on the campus of the Wooster School which at the time was a boarding school for high school boys.
My brother Don in his teenage years was a great lover of the blues. He introduced me to all 3 Kings, (B.B., Albert, Freddy) Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Paul Butterfield and Muddy Waters among others.
I loved this music and still do. I love playing blues. Who doesn’t? I adored Muddy Waters from the moment I heard him. His recording Fathers and Sons was on constant rotation for months! In addition, I was lucky enough to see him perform at the Fillmore East. And yes - he sang Hoochie Coochie Man. Muddy made Hoochie famous in 1955 but it was actually written by one of the greatest Blues songwriters in history, Willie Dixon.
The idea also occurred to me because a few years back I had accompanied one of America’s foremost poets and educators, William Corbett. Bill read the lyrics of Hoochie Coochie Man and I played fragments of the iconic motive as an accompaniment. I loved that concert experience and it inspired me to think that Billy could similarly give Hoochie her own powerful reading.
I originally thought Billy would say the lyrics in her wonderful manner with her fabulous voice. But when we began our first rehearsal, she started rhyming her own lyrics to the song. I stopped playing and exclaimed.
“Billy, what the hell are you doing?” She replied that she was reading her own lyrics. She thought I wanted her to make up her own lyrics as she did in Black Bach. I was so fixated to the idea of Billy saying all of the original verses that it took me totally by surprise and was insistent that she do that. After a few tries at the original Willie Dixon verses. She said: “Can I just read what I wrote and see what you think?” She did and I flipped. It was her life story and much more. She was telling her blues. Hoochie, because of Billy’s lyrics, now took on a whole new meaning.
If a Blues song can be considered an evolutionary art form in the way Flamenco music is, then Billy and I are simply moving that form in our own direction. Since we had performed the other two pieces as a duo we thought we would do the same with Hoochie. I set out to make the guitar sound extremely full and resonant. I derived quite an unusual alternate tuning to achieve this.
I kept to the standard form of the song but added some dissonant as well as resonant harmonies in addition to a short phrase at the end of the chorus. The alternate tuning inspired me to take the solo and the accompaniment in a different direction than I would have had I remained in standard tuning.
We had just recorded Chant for Peace with drummer extraordinaire Jared Shonig. Originally Billy and I were going to record Hoochie as a duo but Jared’s playing was so spectacular on Chant and Billy’s song Dollar And A Dream that we urged him to play on Hoochie. He said he could literally only do one take as he had to get to another engagement. One take we did! I did however re-record my solo, which is unedited.
After the producer Dave Veslocki mixed it and sent it along, it was clear to Billy and me that we had to make a video. The idea of the video was completely Billy’s and the director’s Frankie Turiano. Billy modeled herself after the 1920’s blues singer Gladys Bently and the video concept came into focus once she found that character. To say we had a magical time shooting the video is an understatement. Billy and I are so grateful to all those family and friends who gave up their Sunday to make it happen. A huge thanks goes to Frankie and his wonderful production team who worked like veteran filmmakers throughout out the day.
I feel particularly grateful for the collaboration with Billy which in this case allowed me to pay a small homage to the many great blues players of my youth, most notably Hendrix, Beck and Clapton who have so inspired me all these years.
I hope you enjoy our rendition of the Hoochie as well as the video.
Peace , love, guitars and Hoochie Coochie Man!
Billy Dean Thomas: vocals and lyrics (after the first Willie Dixon verse)
Ben Verdery: guitar and arrangement
Hoochie Coochie Man is part of Billy and Ben’s upcoming EP, Hooks and Books
To find out more about Billy Dean Thomas go to: www.billydeanslist.com
To read about the genesis of the track got to: www.benjaminverdery.com
Billy and Ben want to thank Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters, Frankie Turiano and crew (!!) D’Addario strings, drummer Jared Shonig, Rob D’Addario for playing the drums in the shoot, Jack Vees for his guitar and amp, David Veslocki for producing and mixing the track and all of our family and friends for being part of it.
BACK IN THE STUDIO WITH BILLY DEAN
I'm still on cloud 9 from an exhilarating weekend of music making and collaboration. Billy Dean and I decided to go back into the studio and record three new tracks. We plan to release an EP containing Black Bach, Start Now and three new pieces in a couple of months. I’m thrilled to have drummer Jared Shonig and beat box/vocal percussionist Mark Martin joining our team of producer Dave Veslocki, engineer Chris Santalis, Billy and me.
92Y LAUNCHES NEW ON-DEMAND SERIES: GUITAR TALKS WITH BENJAMIN VERDERY
It is with great excitement that I write to you about the launching of Guitar Talks with Benjamin Verdery by the 92 Y and D’Addario. A few years back when I was asked to be Artistic Director of Art Of The Guitar at the 92Y, I suggested that they ask each artist if they would agree to do a live pre-concert interview with me. To my delight, many agreed and now a few years later we have ten interviews with such wonderful artists as Sergio Assad, David Russell, Pepe Romero, the LAGQ, Eliot Fisk and Paco Peña, Raphella Smits, Paul O’Dette, and 3 group interviews which include: Frederic Hand, David Leisner, Gyan Riley, Ricardo Cobo, David Tanenbaum, Rene Izquierdo, the Eden / Stell Duo , Raphaella Smits, Andrew York, Phillip Candelaria and Louis Trépanier, Scott Tennant and William Kanengiser.
I want to thank first all of these wonderful artists for their willingness to be interviewed prior to their concerts. In addition, I want to thank all the crew at the Y for the filming of each interview, the audience’s enthusiasm and finally to the Y and D’Addario for actually putting it out into the world.
My hope is that you all will enjoy hearing and seeing these great artists talk about their art and life as much as I did.
Following this initial launch the interviews will be posted individually each Thursday starting August 20.
As always! Peace, love and guitars!
Ben Verdery & Billy Dean
I'm over the moon to share these two new videos featuring duos with Hip Hop artist Billy Dean. They were recorded by David Veslocki and shot and edited by Mitsuko Verdery.
What an exhilarating and exciting journey it has been. You can read about my collaboration with Billy Dean at Transom: Colliding Stories-Musical Bridges-by Ben & Billy
Audio of Start Now and Black Bach available at Loudr.
Thanks for all the great comments and support so far!
Have the greatest day.