Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Love it, or make love to it

Benyaro deserves to be heard

Express Staff Writer

Ben Musser and Bobby McCullough are a duo being celebrated by critics and fans as a fresh take on the growing folk and roots music. Courtesy photo

In today's music world, a bigger challenge than getting played is getting heard.

From television talent shows to indie-produced albums and YouTube, there is music every where you turn, good and bad. The way to stand out, says Ben Musser of the roots duo Benyaro, is to take the music off the computer and into live venues.

"We compete against everything, not just overproduced music," he said in a recent interview. "There is a growing market for what we're doing, as is evident with the recent successes of The Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons and Bon Iver. The pendulum will never swing away from pop music, but the roots and folk music genre is currently redefining itself in a strong, attractive, interesting way that has gotten the attention of many listeners and even the music industry."

Benyaro, which will be in Hailey, Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Sun Valley Brewery, is making a name for itself with critics citing its strong, soulful, confident approach to roots music as comparable to early Tom Waits, Cat Stevens and acoustic David Bowie.

One writer said its music was perfect for a driving with the windows-down mood. That's something Musser seconds.

"I've heard folks drive, run, simply listen and work to Benyaro," he said. "I've seen people dance to it at our shows. I hope they use it in whatever way works for them. I hope some

< people make love to it."

Asked what song best exemplifies the band's style, Musser offered "Good Day Better" for its elements of soul, country and folk all fused together.

"We try to expand the boundaries of acoustic music and this song does that," he said.

Musser said that while the music industry targets young people who have time and few responsibilities and spare change to go to shows and download tunes, he expects patience will bring them around as they age and learn about the classics like Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley and start being more selective.

Benyaro plans to be there when they do.

"Hopefully, most of these kids will make it through that period and discover the other worlds of possibilities in music," he said. "They'll just be a little older when they do and be a part of the less obvious but appreciative crowd [that their parents are]. They're out there."

Until then, Benyaro will continue touring heavily with shows at the Big Sky Big Grass Festival and SXSW and working on new material for an original album for 2012.

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