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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

Chelsea make breakthrough over new Willian contract

first_img Comment Willian is reportedly close to signing a new deal with Chelsea (Getty Images)Chelsea are increasingly confident of agreeing a new contract with Willian by the end of the week, according to reports.The 31-year-old agreed a short-term deal to stay for the remainder of the delayed Premier League season but his contract with Chelsea is due to expire this summer.Willian has been holding out for a three-year deal from Chelsea but the club are only willing to offer a contract for the next two years.Arsenal, meanwhile, reportedly offered Willian a deal worth £250,000 a week earlier this year but were forced to reconsider due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENTHowever, Sky Sports now report that Chelsea have made a breakthrough in negotiations and are hopeful that a deal could be finalised by the end of the week.The report claims that Barcelona, Manchester United and MLS side Inter Miami are also keeping tabs on Willian’s situation. Chelsea make breakthrough over new Willian contract Metro Sport ReporterMonday 27 Jul 2020 2:29 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link10.7kShares Frank Lampard is keen for Willian to remain at Chelsea (AFP via Getty Images)The Brazil international has been one of Chelsea’s standout performers this season and played a key role in helping Frank Lampard’s side secure a place in next season’s Champions League.And Lampard has already made it clear that he would be keen for Willian to extend his stay at Stamford Bridge.‘When you think of Willian and his situation, the impact he is having in all the games at the minute with his speed and how he controls the ball and his quality which we all see in every game, I am so pleased with him,’ Lampard said earlier this month.‘He has been brilliant for us with both of those things and Willian deserves huge credit.’More: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? Ian Wright picks his Arsenal starting XI vs Manchester CityArsene Wenger explains why Mikel Arteta is ‘lucky’ to be managing ArsenalWillian, meanwhile, missed Chelsea’s final game of the Premier League season due to injury.Goals from Mason Mount and Olivier Giroud secured a 2-0 victory over Wolves at Stamford Bridge.Follow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more stories like this, check our sport page. Advertisement Advertisementlast_img read more

Aljamain Sterling, oozing with star potential, prepared for UFC bantamweight takeover

first_imgAljamain Sterling opens the door to his girlfriend’s Long Island, New York home, rocking a black UFC hoodie, sweatpants and sneakers and flashing his megawatt smile. He is momentarily comfortable.That’s because the 29-year-old sees daylight in front of his career — even on this dreary afternoon — after finally getting some much-needed clarity. Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearAfter months of uncertainty in the bantamweight division, as a result of Henry Cejudo’s knockout of TJ Dillashaw in January and Dillashaw’s subsequent two-year doping suspension earlier this month, Sterling has just been granted a fight against Pedro Munhoz at UFC 238 in Chicago on June 8.With Sterling being the No. 3-ranked bantamweight and Munhoz No. 4, their fight figures to declare the No. 1 contender for the vacant bantamweight title, which will be decided by Cejudo and Marlon Moraes clashing as the headliners on the same card.The way Sterling sees it, a convincing victory over Munhoz and he’ll have his world title shot against Cejudo or Moraes later this year. But he is prepared to speak that possibility into existence if he has to, as well.”I might have to do a little s— talking,” Sterling tells Sporting News while inching forward on a couch in the living room and stroking his beard with his index finger and thumb, further plotting his upward trajectory. “If that’s what you gotta do to get the fight you want to change your life, that’s what I’m going to have to do.”It shouldn’t have to be that way, as Sterling is already oozing with untapped star potential yearning to be realized by the UFC. With his solid wrestling and MMA skills as a foundation, Sterling delivers personality for days, whether it is celebrating victories by dancing in the Octagon, his Instagram exploits or his “The Weekly Scraps Podcast,” in which he lets listeners know “What’s Scrappening” around the MMA current events — most recently referring to Dillashaw as “Pillashaw” and “Dillafraud” for his failed drug test.That, and he is not shy about sharing his opinions of his bantamweight counterparts, already providing plenty of wide-eyed emoji-worthy soundbites.On Cejudo’s KO of an emaciated Dillashaw, leading to a shot at the vacant bantamweight title, Sterling tells SN: “It’s a little annoying when guys get to cut the line and not handle business in their weight class. We’re starting to see this trend in MMA of the ‘Champ Champ’ — which is cool and all — but when you got a lot of guys who are in the trenches and taking out these tough competitors and you got guys that come up with one win in their weight class and think they’re hot s—, that kind of rubs me the wrong way.”Sterling is equally opinionated when addressing Dillashaw’s failed drug test for using EPO ahead of his flyweight fight against Cejudo in January.”To know that maybe his entire legacy is a fraud … that doesn’t sit right with me,” Sterling says. “This is a guy who has gone in there and beat the crap out of some people. Lord knows how long he has been on it. He has ended careers, he has changed the trajectory of people’s careers.”So that could have been me, so I look at it like a cheater is a cheater at the end of the day. I can’t say it was for every single fight, but lord knows how many of those fights he was doing what he was doing.”While the dust is finally settling on the fallout from Cejudo eviscerating Dillashaw and Dillashaw’s suspension, Sterling has been shoring up his fight game to even reach this point, having built a three-bout winning streak after suffering a brutal loss to Moraes in December 2017.That fight had Moraes attempting a head kick but connecting on a knee that instantly slept Sterling, leaving the Uniondale, Long Island, N.Y., native frozen in time with his left arm stuck in an “infamous dab,” as he calls it.The stinging loss not only set his career back, but Sterling was forced to reassess his mindset and rededicate himself to the mixed martial arts craft.”When I came into that fight, I gave Marlon no respect, man. I really didn’t,” he admits. “I came in there, I thought I had the fight won already. I started to believe in my own hype, and once you start to do that, it’s a dangerous thing.”That (loss) kind of reset the focus, and now, I’ve been a lot more dialed in. Every fight’s dangerous again.”It’s not just talk. Sterling put in overtime at the Longo-Weidman MMA gym in Garden City, N.Y., as part of the homegrown Serra-Longo Fighting Team, and he has seen the results. Sterling’s three-fight winning streak has seen him record one strong performance after another.There was the unanimous decision he posted over Brett Johns last April, followed by the second-round submission win against Cody Stamann (via Suloev stretch) in September and a unanimous decision over Jimmie Rivera in February.”I had to battle my way back from one of the most humiliating knockouts that you could possibly have,” Sterling further says about the Moraes loss, which he since relegates to nothing more a “fluke.””It made me stronger and it helped propel my game a little bit further.””Funk Master” sincerely believes it is his time to take over the bantamweight division, but he insists he is not overlooking Munhoz en route of accomplishing that; Sterling (17-3) is just confident that his human backpack wrestling style, in which he slows his opponents down with superior grappling, will give him his fourth consecutive win in the Octagon.”I think he’s a tough competitor in the jiu-jitsu department just like I am. I think the difference is the wrestling — the wrestling pedigree that I possess that I don’t think he does,” Sterling says, comparing himself to Munhoz (18-3-1 No-Contest). “I know he’s been wrestling and doing the wrestling training, but it’s not the same when you’ve kind of grown up doing it in high school and college. He’ll take a couple of punches to land a couple of calf kicks, and I think the difference is I’m not going to be there to be hit.”He adds: “You haven’t seen some of my other tricks. I think this next one is going to be the icing on the cake. It’s going to be that real breakout party for me.”Still, Sterling enters this bout having to weed out distractions, even ones that are ultra personal in nature.”My parents are going through a divorce,” he says. “There’s a whole lot of mess in the back scenes that people don’t know about and they don’t give a s— about, and we got to take all that extra baggage with us into the Octagon.”And possibly take it all out on Munhoz.Hunched forward with his hands interlocked resting over his thighs, Sterling envisions a dominating win over Munhoz and Cejudo edging out Moraes to line up a clash with Cejudo later this year with the bantamweight title on the line. But even if it’s a rematch with Moraes, Sterling believes his point will be made.”At the end of the day, I think all truths will be revealed,” he says. “I think I’m the best guy in the division, and I will prove it come June 8, and after that, I’ll be fighting for the belt — the UFC world title.” (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/3a/d9/aljamain-sterling_1u3f1k63wlii91mteky5nlapn6.jpg?t=557813018&w=500&quality=80 Sterling’s path to the bantamweight championship is clear now. But back when he was a kid, Sterling remembers striving for a different kind of title — a makeshift strap in one of his siblings’ many homemade Tables, Ladders and Chairs matches, WWE style.”We’d put the beds together and put the comforter underneath the mattress and boxspring. We’d put pillows underneath,” Sterling explains. “We’d have brothers versus the girls or one girl, one boy on one team against another team. We’d tape paper to the ceiling and that would be the belt and we’d have a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match.”Sterling grew up on Long Island as one of 20 — yes, twenty — brothers and sisters, as a result of his mother and father each meeting with 10 children apiece. The busy household made Sterling tough quickly.”I had to learn to toughen up and fend for myself,” says Sterling, who is of Jamaican dissent. “You’d think when you have a lot of brothers and sisters, they’d come to your aid and rescue you a lot of times, but for us it wasn’t really like that. It was tough love. Now that we’re older and mature, everyone is looking out for each other and making sure that we’re steering the younger ones into the right directions.”Coming out of that environment, Sterling further blazed the trail to his MMA career at SUNY Morrisville, where none other than Jon Jones was honing his craft and helped mentor a younger Aljamain.Even when Sterling transferred to SUNY Cortland a year later, his path was intertwined with Jones because the latter was training just down the block from the school, allowing them to re-connect and for Sterling to soak up some more game from the man who grew into arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time.Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearSterling says he credits his upbringing and meeting Jones for his becoming of an MMA fighter. And then, there was his first amateur MMA fight itself that got him hooked at the age of 20.”I won, I threw the first right hand, cracked him and I split his eye open,” Sterling remembers. “And dude … when I saw the blood coming out — and I submitted him in the second round — I was like, ‘I think I could be good at this.'” His intuition was right. Sterling grinded around the MMA circuit, eventually working his way up to the UFC, making his debut with the Las Vegas-based company in February 2014. And he hasn’t looked back.Now, staring down No. 1 contender status in the bantamweight division and knocking on 30’s door, Sterling knows the time to make serious moves is now. And he is confident about laying the groundwork to do just that.”I learned all these things on the journey, on the ride and I’m taking all these lessons into my 30’s,” Sterling says, “and I think the 30s are going to be the best years of my life.”last_img read more

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