Monday, December 24, 2012

Looking BACK and AHEAD. NEW DATES ADDED!!




Hey Gang,

As we get ready to say goodbye to yet another year, we can't help but to look back and reflect on some of the awesome moments that occurred: a trip to China, new venues in New York and Boston, new friends and righteous jam sessions!

Shanghai was a life-changing experience that I will never forget. I met some amazing people from all over the world, and had an opportunity to perform with some top notch players in a fantastic venue. If you ever have to travel to Shanghai, be sure to stop into The House of Blues and Jazz and tell them that Big Ben says hello!



Here in the states my band and I have been fortunate to find some new venues to play at, including very recently playing at the fabulous Back Page in Lowell, MA. The response there was great, and we look forward to coming back to perform there on Saturday March 16, 2013.



We also played at Groove in Greenwich Village, NYC this past October, and boy is that a good room for us! Groove is a place where people go specifically to hear live funk and soul music, and we sure enough gave the people what they wanted. I am happy to announce that we will be back at Groove on Saturday January 19, 2013 starting at 11 PM.

In addition to all the dates I'm booking with my own band, I am very pleased to be doing a regular spot at Boston jazz mainstay Wally's Cafe with my good friends Luke and Aaron Bellamy in a project called Quality Control. We'll be hitting on Monday nights starting in January. 

You can always get updates for any new shows added to our schedule on the Tour Dates section here at www.bigbenhillman.com.






Monday, December 10, 2012

PEACE to the CITY of MILLS and BEYOND


I can’t believe its here already, the week when BIG BEN and THE ROYAL FAM ILY finally return to their roots in LOWELL, MA!!

You will find us performing at THE BACK PAGE THIS FRIDAY DECEMBER 14th starting at 9 PM, and we’ll play ALL NIGHT LONG… until 1 AM. We’ll be funkin’ and rockin’ it hard, and from what I’ve been told THE BACK PAGE is a great place for DANCING and GETTIN’ DOWN. So I expect to see all my FUNKHEADS front and center straight from the DOWNBEAT! 

In the days leading up to the event we have been fortunate enough to visit two of the top RADIO STATIONS in the city: AM 980 WCAP and 91.5 FM WUML. This past Friday I visited with JACK BALDWIN at WCAP, and played a brief solo set as good friend D-TENSION looked on, as he was there to talk about his COMEDY EVENT going on earlier that evening.



It wasn’t easy squeezing my keyboard into that tiny little studio, but it was well worth it as I had an opportunity to try out a brand new song I had just written that morning as well as a special version of IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE MUSIC I wrote for solo piano and voice.

Then it was on to the ALMOST ACCOUSTIC show on WUML with my new friend MIKE FLYNN, where we recorded a live set with the full band. Unfortunately due to some technical difficulties the program was unable to be aired at its scheduled time, but the recording will be played on air THIS COMING SATURDAY at approximately 1 PM… the day after the BACK PAGE gig.



So it’s been an exciting week, and I pray that there will be many more opportunities to perform and play my music for you all in the not too distant future. I expect that if the gig at BACK PAGE goes well this Friday then we should be playing there on a somewhat regular basis – so PLEASE TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS and COME ON DOWN to the show!! WE NEED YOU THERE!!!

If for some reason you just CAN’T make it to the gig, it will be broadcast LIVE ON AIR at AM 980 WCAP. You can listen on line here: http://980wcap.com 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

BIG BEN'S advice for the YOUTH of AMERICA


As the summer winds down, the days get a bit shorter, the nights a bit cooler, and back-to-school-sale television commercials abound, I can’t help but be reminded of my own school days. Even though I wasn’t particularly stellar as a student, I did enjoy my time in school and I actually find myself missing those times, thinking of them fondly.

When asked I tell people that the most beneficial thing that I got out of going to college was the people that I met, the relationships that I forged, nearly all of them being long lasting and leading me toward opportunities in my life and career. I may not have made the Dean’s List or brought home the best grades, but being a student changed my life in a positive way and I am grateful I was able to attend.  



I would like to speak right now to any young people who by chance may be reading my blog right now: We live in a complicated world, so much more complicated now than it ever was when I was a kid, and there are so many things out there vying for your time and attention. Between the bombardment of data from the internet and the media and the allure of “growing up” too fast by giving into sex, drugs and partying it’s so easy get lost and fall through the cracks.

Life is full of pressures from all different directions, trying to tell you who you are and who you should be, it can feel as though you have no say in the matter whatsoever. The truth is, there is no one in the world who can define who you are besides you.

My advice to you, kids of America, is to stay in school, work hard, get your diploma. It may not seem worth the trouble right now, but believe me – IT’S WORTH IT!

There will be plenty of time for girlfriends and boyfriends and falling in love. There will be plenty of time for hanging out with friends and having fun. There will be plenty of time in your life for working hard at your job and making money. Believe me, it’s the truth – you’re young and you’ve got PLENTY of time!

Now there is nothing necessarily wrong with any of these things in and of themselves, and for all of us there comes a time in our life when we want and need to experience some of these things. The point I’m trying to make is that education is and should always be the priority. With an education there will be so many doors open to you, which would otherwise be closed. With the knowledge and skills one gains from reading, writing, studying math and science and the arts, you are preparing yourself for a world that is ever changing and becoming more and more complex as the years go by.

All the things that are troubling you in your life right now will become so much simpler once you are able to focus and discipline yourself, to make the effort to do whatever it takes to excel and get ahead in your learning.

As I alluded to earlier, one does not even need to be the best student to better oneself. I brought home plenty of sub-par grades, in high school and in college, but I still went in everyday and tried. I made an effort and did my best, and in the end it paid off.

There was a time, not so long ago, when our fathers and grandfathers were just getting out of school, that they had a shot at getting a decent job in a factory with little or no education, no diploma, no degree, and they could still make enough money to buy a home, a car and to raise a family in a pleasant, middle-class suburban environment.

The sad truth is that those days are gone, and they are never coming back.

The world we live in today is more competitive than perhaps it has ever been in human history. If you’re not prepared to deal with today’s technology, economics, scientific, intellectual and cultural developments, then you will be left behind. Our country will be left behind.

Finally, I would like to offer up a bit of advice for the parents of America today. The most important thing you can do for your children is to spend time with them, talk with them, let them know that they are loved, that they are not alone and that they are someone who truly matters in this world. So many of the problems our kids face today can be made so much smaller and less threatening when the proper network of support from family and community is in place.

When I look at the state of the world today, I can’t help but be sad and a little afraid. We have so much at stake and so much to lose, and the only way we can really pull ourselves out of these dark times is to insure that our nation’s children, the future of America, are equipped with all that they need to make a brighter tomorrow.

Stay in school, kids, and stay focused. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

CATCHING UP


Where do people find the time to blog as often as they do? When I first started this thing, I made a promise to myself that I would at least attempt at posting a blog once a week. Well, you can see how much I think of my own promises.

I haven’t posted a blog since April. I was still in Shanghai!

Adjusting to life back in the states has been challenging. I’ve been able to play lots of music this summer, which has been good. I’ve spent lots of time back in Boston with family and friends, and for that I am grateful.



But I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t miss the pace and energy of Shanghai, not to mention all of the wonderful people I met there. If things go according to plan, I will be back in China one day in the not too distant future. You can bet on that!

I’ve gone through a couple of waves of inspiration in the past several months, penning a number of new tunes that I can’t wait to start rehearsing with the band! I’ve also been doing some collaborating with a friend of mine who is a very talented vocalist on what promises to be a very exciting project, more to come about that soon.

As I gain momentum in preparing for the fall season, I am recommitting myself to this blog. I am going to make more of an effort to post something on a weekly basis, even if its just a brief statement to catch you all up on what I have forthcoming.

On that note, the band and I will be returning to Wicked Willy’s on Saturday September 15th for more funk and good times. I hope to see you all there!

Please stay tuned and keep it locked right here at bigbenhillman.com for all the latest funky info and happenings!  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The HALFWAY point

Hello, my friends. Here I am once again blogging at you from Shanghai, China. I have been writing nearly as much as I had intended to. No big surprise there, I suppose. I have a stack of books I brought with me that I was supposed be reading, but I've hardly touched those either. Instead I have been spending my time exploring the city, playing good music, taking lots of pictures and making some new friends.



So far the gig has been awesome and we consistently see large supportive crowds cheering us on and enjoying the music. As a performer this is paramount; there is nothing better than playing for an appreciative audience, particularly when the attendance is high.

Off stage things have been good as well. Shanghai is such a massive city, it's impossible to see everything in just one visit, I think. But I have been doing my best to get out and about and explore. In just a couple of months I will be back in the USA and preparing to hit the ground running. I have several dates lined up already for the band and I am working on booking some more. I also am working on some new tunes and trying to complete my recording project.

It's a lot to deal with, and it's especially challenging being so far away from home. Fortunately for me, I've always liked a good challenge.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ni Hao! Welcome to Shanghai.

Greetings all! I am writing to you from the dope crib I am sharing with my band mates here in Shanghai, China. We've been here exactly two weeks now, and so far it's been a very cool trip. Shanghai is one of those cities where there is a new adventure, something new to see or do around every corner. And of course, the night life is off the hook! I am playing, as most of you know, for four months here in Shanghai at a place called The House of Blues and Jazz, a very hip and classy establishment here with very cool people hanging out and working there. It is located in a building that is over 100 years old, and every night I have the delight to play on a lovely Yamaha grand piano. It's really outstanding.
It has been a bit of a challenge overcoming the language barrier here, but fortunately most people here are very friendly and patient as I try to figure out how to order my chicken and rice. In many ways being in Shanghai is like being in any other city, and yet there are many things that are different and take some getting used to (there are no hoagies at the local convenience stores, but I can get grilled lamb, mutton or fried rice on just about any street corner.) Needless to say, there is some truly amazing food here. I had the good fortune to experience a real authentic Japanese barbecue place here, courtesy of our boss. I've never seen a place where you grill your food right there at the table, everything was so fresh tasting and delicious! I've also been doing some food shopping at the outdoor market in our neighborhood, a completely new experience for me. I admit I was a little nervous about doing it at first as I wasn't sure if I would really be able to figure out what I was doing. But it's no problem now, I'm an old pro!
As you can probably ascertain from the photos, it is really quite cold here right now. Today we actually got quite a bit of snowfall, something which I understand to be rather unusual here. All I know is I can't wait for the weather to warm up some so I can do more exploring! More photos and info to come y'all. Peace!