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Eric “Benny” Bloom Tells Us What It Means To Be A Part Of The Shady Horns

first_imgThere’s no rest for Eric “Benny” Bloom these days, not when the lure of the stage is calling. Just last week alone, he and partner in The Shady Horns, saxophonist Ryan Zoidis, have appeared on The Today Show backing up the legendary Aaron Neville, brought some punch to a pair of shows with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh before heading out to rehearsals for the upcoming Lettuce tour.Adding to his manic workload are special appearances at the Bear Creek Bayou Festival, the Catskill Chill Music Festival and the dream team laden Brooklyn Comes Alive festival. Somehow, in the midst of all his comings and goings, Bloom managed to squeeze in a conversation with our own Rex Thomson about the joy of having a musical partner, how to play in any circumstance and what funk music means to him.L4LM: As a part of The Shady Horns you have shared the stage with legends and the cream of the music scene, as well as your partner-in-crime, Ryan Zoidis. Can you give us a rundown on how you came to be “Shady?”Eric “Benny” Bloom: The Shady Horns originally started as the horn section for Soulive with Sam Kininger. When I joined Lettuce, it was Ryan Zoidis, me and James Casey; we were The Shady Horns. Then James left to do stuff with Trey and other artists, so we carried the flame, continued on, and now here we are… Zoidis and me: a duo.It’s great. It’s concise. It’s easy. Ryan and I work really well together and we think alike, musically. I’ve never really had such a long connection. He’s the man.L4LM: How in tune with your partner are you? Do you feel like you know where Zoidis is going in a jam, or is he still surprising you after all these years?EBB: Oh, of course, you’re always getting surprised. We can come up with a horn line, a little lick, in the moment and play it the next time around. We’re on the same page. Sometimes I’ll just play the harmony, which is something people might not catch the first couple times through, but he gets it and plays around me.We do a lot of jamming, and out of that there are variations to be played. A lot of times we’ll guess the same variations. We’re pretty in tune. That’s why nobody plays or sounds like us. We come in to work with an artist and we can figure anything out.Before we played with him, Phil Lesh asked us, “Hey, you got something for ‘Sugaree?’,” and I was like “Yep!” And we didn’t have anything. But when it went down, I came up with a line, Ryan came up with a line, and I came up with another line, and it came out great. That’s the way to do it. Right then. Old school.L4LM: Is there any cool inside stuff about playing with Phil that you feel like sharing?EBB: When we were about to play, we all got in a circle, put one foot in and just made crazy sounds for a minute or two. It was to open yourself up, and it was really cool. Instead of just being in your own head-space, everyone got loose and connected.He has so many things he has been through, experienced with the Dead. His methods are obviously tried and true. So if he suggests something, I listen.L4LM: The Shady Horns just had a huge television appearance backing up Aaron Neville on The Today Show. As a musician you keep late nights, but the show happens early in the morning. Did you just stay up and play through, or did you get some sleep first?EBB: I’m not 21 anymore… I can’t play through anymore. I mean… I can, but when you’re on TV, you can’t be screwing up. I tried to sleep, but of course, you can’t really can’t be screwing up. But I’ve been on The Today Show before, so I knew what to expect.L4LM: For some folks, being on The Today Show would be the highlight of their year, but with the madness of your life it might not even be the high point of the WEEK. How was that transition, going from Neville to Lesh, stylistically?EBB: You don’t really think of it. You just take every day as a new day and a new gig, y’know? I listened to plenty of the Grateful Dead and Phish coming up, and I know if those kinds of bands have horns, it sounds like The Moody Blues, or Chicago or Blood, Sweat & Tears. That is what a horn section sounded like around the time of the Grateful Dead music.But with Aaron Neville, he wanted a New Orleans styled horn section. Guys who used to play with Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint, old school guys like that. So you need to know that music too. Whatever gig you agree to do, you should know as much as you can about that. That way when you get there, it’s not about making some big transition.It’s like cooking. You can say “Hey! I’m cooking French food today.” And some people specialize, sure, but if you need to cook Mexican it shouldn’t be that difficult if you know what you’re doing.L4LM: Do you see funk as a specific style of music or a vibe that can be applied to any music situation?EBB: Yeah, I don’t think it’s a genre, really. I mean, it helps some people to have labels, but I hate them. For example, Aaron Neville was really one of the first rhythm and blues singers. R&B just kinda morphed into rock and roll. Funk was always more based in the blues side. The funk… you can look at it as a sound, a way of playing.You look at James Brown. He’s the king of funk, The Godfather of soul. He had Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley who both really wanted to be jazz musicians. And they got into what was really, in a way, a pop band to them. Really, when you look at it, all that funk is really blues and jazz based.L4LM: You’ve made your home in New Orleans for a while now. Do you manage to get any rest when you are off the road, or is the temptation of gigging with your own band and sitting in around town too much for you?EBB: It’s really difficult. Like tomorrow, I am flying home to play my last gig with my band, Sonic Bloom, before I fly out the next day for Lettuce rehearsals. So as much as I want to rest I want to keep my flame burning in New Orleans as much as I can.There is so much good stuff down there that you just want to go all the time. And so many places, like Preservation Hall, where I have friends now I can go and do that. Not many people get an opportunity like that and I definitely try and make the most of it.I make time for playing when I should make more time for myself. More Netflix and my girlfriend Lisa, but… what are you gonna do?L4LM: Speaking of Lettuce and playing shows at home, you and your friends are helping to celebrate the rebirth of the Bear Creek Music Festival, now held on the Bayou in New Orleans. Lettuce has put on some spectacular shows at Bear Creek in the past… how excited are you guys to be such a big part of the return?EBB: I love the crew that does the Bear Creek Festival, Lyle and Judy. I’m looking forward to it. I’m really looking forward to it because, for me, I live here. I love it. It’s like the fest is coming home.This is gonna be like a mini-Jazz Fest. It’s perfect. It’s in the fall, and gives New Orleans a taste of Jazz Fest but at this time of the year. Just the good old Bear Creek vibe, but in New Orleans. It’s gonna be amazing.Besides the Lettuce sets, I am doing another set with a lot of horn players. That’s gonna be really strong.L4LM: Your special set was a nice addition to the line up. Can you tell us a little bit about that, like how many horn players you plan on cramming on the stage?EBB: It’s Natalie Cressman, Jennifer Hartswick, Skerik and me. Only four total. That’s enough. And we’ve got a strong contingent of local talent. That’s the thing about doing it in New Orleans is that you have so much talent you can tap. My friend Josh Starkman, Thomas Glass, a young, like 19 year old drummer. Joe Ashlar the great organist and Noah Young, the bass player from Naughty Professor. It’s a nice band. They’re happening.L4LM: It’s nice to see you bringing in fresh faces.EBB: That’s the way it is supposed to be. It’s the way it HAS to be. You have to keep it fresh. It’s like… I’m playing with Phil Lesh after how many years has he been playing? Always gotta keep it like that.L4LM: You’re also participating in one of the official after parties, a tribute to Bernie Worrell. (More info/tickets here). With the Louisiana tradition of celebrating loss with revelry it seems like a perfect place for that kind of show.EBB: Yeah, it’s a great place to do it. And we have a lot of Dumpstaphunk crew in there, and they’re so influenced by P-Funk. The band that they have chosen to do it is perfect for the material, and I don’t that much of a chance to do a lot of P-Funk music.P-Funk stuff has a lot of horns and a lot of vocals, and I’m looking forward that a lot. Like I said, the band is great and the music will sound right and funky.L4LM: You’re involved in some amazing tributes to a few of the music greats we’ve lost in the coming weeks, from Bernie Worrell, Maurice White to the legendary Miles Davis. Do you think it’s important to work to keep the music of the fallen greats alive?EBB: I think it’s very important. I don’t do to many of these tributes but I think it’s very important. People know such a small amount of the work of these artists. Take Miles Davis. There’s so much great Miles Davis out there. If I can reawaken the awareness of Miles in some people then maybe they’ll dig into his catalog.That’s what I wish people were doing now-a-days, getting deeper into their favorite artists. People like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Louis Armstrong… dig deeper into their catalog. Get to understand an artist. Get to understand why they left space here, or finessed something there.I get called for a lot of these tributes, but I try and only do the ones that are a bit different, that go deeper into the artist they are honoring.L4LM: You’ve got what is essentially Break Science and your Lettuce bandmates backing you on this journey through the classic Davis album Bitches Brew. Are you going to be doing the whole album?EBB: We’re going to get in a good amount, but it’s a chance to expose people to that period of Miles, to really channel it. And because I play with the Lettuce and Break Science guys so much, they’re perfect for that era Miles.I mean Jesus (Coomes) is perfect for that, he knows that music really well. Everyone in that band knows that music. Sure, I would love to play with some other guys sometimes, because I get to play with these guys all the time, but they’re right for the job and you can’t knock that.L4LM: Was Miles a big influence on your development as a player?EBB: Oh yeah. I mean, a lot of people are in there for me, but definitely Miles. Birth Of The Cool. I have almost every one of his albums. Every trumpet player is influenced by Miles. Every musician, really, whether they know it or not.I’m definitely a huge Miles fan and very happy to be doing this tribute.L4LM: Later in October you are heading back to your old stomping grounds, New York City, to be part of the all super group festival Brooklyn Comes Alive. What do you think of the cavalcade of stars approach the organizers have taken?EBB: I think it’s great. I love so many of those people! I’m doing an amazing set with the Coomes brothers, Jesus and Tycoon and The Shady Horns. Ty writes a lot of amazing stuff and it is gonna be an amazing day of music. Kunj Shah did a great job of putting it together.L4LM: One of the most talked about Jazz Fest late night shows was the Earth, Wind & Fire tribute hosted by The Nth Power. By popular demand it is making its return at Brooklyn Comes Alive. Any hints you can give us about how you’re planning to take this to the next level?EBB: There’s just so much of their music that you can do, that is all so good, that it’s easy to switch it up and make it different. There’s never a bad time to listen to Earth, Wind & Fire. I listen to them once a day, at least.L4LM: And while all this is going on you’re going to be out on tour?EBB: Yeah, we take off on the Sounds Like A Party tour next week. We’re gonna go see as many of our fans as we can. I’m just trying to live every day the best I can and get better as I go. Wish me luck!L4LM: Good luck! Well, thank you for fitting this chat into your busy schedule. We’re looking forward to seeing the magic you’re gonna be making.EBB: Thanks for having me. You guys are the best. Tickets for Lettuce’s Sounds Like A Party tour available HERETickets for the Bear Creek Bayou are available HERETickets for the All Star Tribute To Bernie Worrell are available HERETickets for the Catskill Chill are available HERETickets for the all-star Brooklyn Comes Alive are available HERElast_img read more

Jazz Musician Musa Manzini Plays Guitar While Undergoing Brain Surgery [Watch]

first_imgSuccessful brain surgery is quite an accomplishment within the medical and scientific fields. Undergoing successful brain surgery while playing a standard G-scale on the guitar however, well, that’s an entirely different viral news story altogether!That was just the case for South African musician Musa Manzini, who recently underwent an awake craniotomy where he was recorded consciously playing guitar while doctors worked on removing a tumor in his brain.The surprisingly-common medical procedure allows doctors to cut open a patient’s skull to operate on sensitive areas of the brain without putting him or her out completely with the use of anesthesia. Such techniques have been captured on film and shared across the Internet in the past, and Manzini is now the latest musician to say they’ve continued jamming while undergoing what can be a pretty intense procedure.Manzini first learned he had a brain tumor back in 2006 and has since undergone multiple surgeries in the attempt to remove it. Earlier this year, however, he began feeling “numb and clumsy” while playing guitar, leading to the discovery that his tumor had returned. Manzini chose to undergo an awake craniotomy this time around, where after being temporarily put under with an intravenous anesthetic, he was gently woken once surgeons had reached his brain. Aside from injections of local anesthetic to numb the sensitive nerves in the surrounding skin areas, Manzini was completely awake and subject to the awkwardness of undergoing major surgery while being conscious.Manzini’s ability to play guitar while surgeons worked away at his brain actually came at the request of the doctors, not the musician. By having him use his physical motor skills to play the guitar, doctors were simply making sure they were not removing any critical tissue. This process is known as cortical mapping, and allows the doctors to stimulate different parts of the patient’s cortex to test which areas were functional using small electrodes.“We wanted to make sure we took as much of the tumor as we safely could, but preserve his dexterity,” Dr. Rohen Harrichandparsad, who was part of the surgery team, mentioned about the procedure. “We had to ensure that whatever pathways he was using for music were preserved. There’s no single pathway, but a multitude that interact.” The report goes on to state that such precision with a procedure like this would be impossible without the patient being awake.“There’s this loud sucking sound and stuff, yet I don’t feel no pain at all,” Manzini said of the process, which was captured on film and can be watched in the brief video below. “It’s like you’re in between being dead and being alive.”Brain Surgery Jam Session[Video: News24]The surgery was considered a success, with doctors estimating that 90 percent of the tumor was removed before wrapping the procedure. Manzini was reportedly discharged from the hospital a few days later and has since been recovering at his home.[H/T New York Times]last_img read more

Brila, Beat FM Land NPFL Radio Broadcast Rights

first_imgThe LMC noted that studies indicated that radio remains the most preferred medium of information in Nigeria and “it is also based on this that we sought radio broadcast partners to take this league which is a strong unifying platform for Nigerians to the people, most of who cannot afford alternative sources of electricity power”.In the deal, the radio stations are entitled to undertake live broadcast of NPFL matches and also produce twice weekly preview and review shows featuring interviews, analysis and public opinions on the players, the matches and the clubs.The LMC said it will welcome interests from other radio broadcast stations that have the capacity to undertake live broadcasts of NPFL matches.“The expansion of the NPFL reach is part of our vision to grow the brand, offer greater and extensive experiences of the matches through the media and also deliver value to the fans and sponsors”, the LMC said.It further expressed optimism that with the entry of the two radio stations with their different audience segments, “the NPFL is poised to add new target groups that includes the eclectic urban youth segment and those of the inner cities”.There are no right fees attached to this deals as we consider it as a core social investment activity of the LMC to grow the NPFL”.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram *Stations now to broadcast live matchesSports Radio Brila FM and Megalectrics Limited became the first radio stations to be issued radio broadcast rights of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) following the signing of separate Memorandum of Understanding MoU between the stations and the League Management Company (LMC).Megalectrics Limited based in Lagos is the owners of radio broadcast licenses of Beat FM, Classic FM and Naija FM while Sports Radio Brila, the first all sports radio station in Nigeria operates the Brila 88.9 FM stations in Lagos, Onitsha, Abuja and Kaduna.A statement from the LMC described the issuance of the non-exclusive rights to the stations as ‘part of our deliberate strategy to take the Nigeria Professional Football League live matches to the people where they are especially in the inner cities and villages”.last_img read more

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