Tuesday, November 19, 2013

EPIC GIGS!!!

The last couple of weeks have been nothing short of AMAZING... dare I say even EPIC?!? That is a word that tends to get thrown about frivolously these days, but I promise you there is no frivolity in my delivery right now.

Last weekend in New York was great. We had an excellent turn out at club GROOVE; playing on stage at this West Village hot spot is always a good time. We met some great folks, made some new friends, and for the first time in a while we managed to keep almost everyone there dancing until closing time. We love playing at GROOVE and we can't wait to get back in there again soon!

Paula Green, Dave Smith, Kyle Christian, Dameyun Henry and myself take time between sets at GROOVE NYC to take a picture with some fans from Canada.
We'll be back in New York City on December 13th at THE SHRINE in HARLEM. It's been a little while since we've played over there, but it's always a good time. This will be the first time for us playing an extended two-hour set over at THE SHRINE, starting at 10 PM and ending at midnight. We are very excited to showcase some NEW and ORIGINAL material at this show, so we really hope that you and all of your friends will come on by help us to make this yet another EPIC GIG!!!

Posing with the fabulous Paula Green at GROOVE NYC
Lastly, I need to give a big SHOUT OUT to everyone in my old hometown of LOWELL, MA who came out to see the band and I play at THE BACK PAGE. It was truly and extraordinary night! Aided by the unseasonably warm weather and perhaps by some overflow from the GUSTER show happening across the way at the Memorial Auditorium, we managed to fit more people in that club than I think I had ever seen in there, and everyone was having a great time!

Big Ben with drummer Mike Stephan at The Back Page in Lowell, MA on November 16, 2013 (thanks to Barbra DeLauriers for the photo.)
I am so grateful to everyone who came out and partied with us. Your love and support as always is greatly appreciated! Of course I want to thank my good friends Mike Flynn at WUML and Jack Baldwin at WCAP for helping my get the word out over the airways. Of course we also want to thank everyone over at THE BACK PAGE for having us back, we hope to come back and do it again real soon!

If you're in the New England area you can come check us out at TOAD in PORTER SQUARE in CAMBRIDGE, MA on FRIDAY DECEMBER 20th at 10 PM. Hope to see you there!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

CHANGES and NEW DATES ADDED

As happens sometimes in this crazy business of music-making, things can change in an instant and all at once! As such I've had to make a few changes to the schedule recently, including the last minute addition of a show at GROOVE in NYC this SATURDAY NOVEMBER 9th at midnight!!



If you are anywhere in the New York City area then you should definitely come by and check us out! It's always a good time over there. Cold drinks, delicious food, friendly staff and some of the best music you'll hear in the whole damn city - you really can't go wrong!

For all of my friends and fans a little closer to my hometown of Boston, it saddens me greatly to say that the gig we had scheduled at TOAD in CAMBRIDGE on Friday November 29th has been CALLED OFF due to a scheduling issue with the venue. I'm afraid there is nothing we can do about this one, folks.

However, we will still be ROCKING over there on FRIDAY DECEMBER 20th at 10 PM for sure!! So hopefully if all goes well we will be looking at doing a regular slot over there on the 3rd Friday of each month. I've really got my fingers crossed for this one... but I will need YOUR HELP in order to make this happen!

Please, if you care about live music - in particular LIVE FUNK and SOUL music - then PLEASE come out and show your support! And don't just come out by yourself, tell all your friends and family. Let them know just how IMPORTANT it is to you personally that we keep this music and this TRADITION alive! Together we can make it happen!!



I recently visited the old WUML studios in LOWELL, MA to help promote my upcoming gig at THE BACK PAGE on SATURDAY NOVEMBER 16th. If you were able to tune then you heard a brief preview of my upcoming single "Friday Night." I'm still making some adjustments to the mix, but as soon as it's done the song will be available for download here at www.bigbenhillman.com, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for that.

Lastly, I've heard from a few people who have said they were having trouble ordering items from the merch store. I am looking into this to see exactly what the problem is. All I can say at this point is that the store is a work in progress, so please be patient with me as I work out all the kinks.

Alright, children... so to recap I'll see you in NYC at CLUB GROOVE this coming SATURDAY the 9th, and I'll see you in LOWELL, MA next SATURDAY the 16th at THE BACK PAGE. Let's get it done and FUNK IT UP HARD, people!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Introducing BIG BEN'S FUNKY MERCH TABLE at www.bigbenhillman.com

So as promised I have created a little Cafe Press page containing a handful of products featuring some designs I created. There are only a few shirts and a couple of hats right now with a limited selection of designs to choose from, but more will be forthcoming soon. You will be able to access the store at anytime from the "MUSIC" page here on www.bigbenhillman.com, but here is a little preview you can check out....

Make Custom Gifts at CafePress

I'm honestly not sure how many people out there will be interested in wearing a tee shirt with my face on it or a ball cap with my name emblazoned across the top, but I suppose you never know. Fortunately I've created another cool alternative design: a psychedelic tie-dyed looking "FUNK" logo. I think this will make for a really cool gift for someone, don't you?


Like I said before, if anyone has any feedback or ideas I'm all ears. At this point I'm just experimenting with different ideas until I find something that really works. All of this of course is in hopes of further promoting the new music I have coming out. My newest single "Friday Night" is almost finished and should be ready for download soon! as always keep your eyes and ears locked here to www.bigbenhillman.com for all the latest info!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

CHANGES and UPDATES at www.bigbenhillman.com

In between all of the normal madness that is my life, I have been trying to make a few updates and improvements to my website. I have been plugging along with the same basic format and layout for a while now, and it's worked out fine I suppose, but I feel that there is always room for improvement. So I try to take into account people's comments and critiques when they come up and make the page overall more user friendly and more inviting to people.

First of all the most noticeable change is the picture at the top of the page. I really felt it was time to update that. My look has changed a lot over the past year. Yes, children, uncle Benny is getting older, but I think I still look good. Don't you?



Okay, so maybe I can't pull off the long hair, the baggy low hanging jeans and oversized hoodies quite the way I used to (at least not in public, what I wear around the crib on a Monday afternoon is entirely my business... ) Thank goodness I look good in a suit.

One of the comments that I recall hearing was that it was a little bit difficult to find/access my music, which is of course the most important thing a musician's web site should do: promote the music! Right?? So I have added a small music player with a handful of my tunes to the top lefthand corner of the main page, so you really can't miss it. I also added a newer player with a much larger appearance to the music page. Now if only I can get some new music up on there I will be all set... and I promise you, that is coming soon!

Also on the main page, just below the player I have added more links to some of my other spots on the world wide web, such as my Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages. There is also a link that brings you to my iTunes store (which at present only contains the "I'm Sorry" EP, but again this is something I hope to rectify and amend very soon!)

For years I have toyed with the notion of opening some sort of a "merch store" where people can buy various other Big Ben related items aside from my music, such as tee shirts, hats and coffee mugs. I'm honestly not too sure how interested people would be in buying/using items like this. Would you rock a Big Ben tee shirt at the club on a Friday Night?



I'd like to reach out to all of you, my friends, family, fans and fellow funksters to ask your opinions about all these things and more. If you have any ideas on how I can continue to improve the web site, on what sort of merchandise you would like to see sold here, or any other feedback I'd love to hear about it! You can comment here, or you can e mail me on the "contact" page form. Hope to hear from you soon, and I look forward to bringing you more great content - and especially some good music - here at www.bigbenhillman.com!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

NEW GIG DATES ADDED at www.bigbenhillman.com!!

So as is so often the case with me in my career thus far, activity comes and goes in spurts, and right now is one of those active times. I'm happy to announce that I've got a bunch of cool shows coming up in both the Boston and New York City areas, and I'm looking forward to booking more shows very soon!


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My band and I played a rather impromptu and last minute show at Toad in Porter Square, Cambridge to a small but attentive crowd. The fact that it was game 1 of the Red Sox in the World Series didn't interfere with the band putting on a kick ass show and everyone having a good time, and of course once the Sox won the game the mood became quite celebratory.

Big Ben and the band at Toad in Cambridge (l-r: Ben Alman, Noah Maltsberger, Big Ben, Zeke Martin)

It was a pleasure to have my good buddy "Cowboy" Ben Alman back on bass with me, as well as a couple of new additions to the "extended family:" Noah Maltsberger on guitar and Zeke Martin on drums. We'll be back to Toad again on Friday November 29th and Friday December 20th.

I recently played at Groove down in NYC two weeks in a row, which meant a lot of driving around for me considering I had a number of engagement in New England I had to return home for and wasn't able to just "chill" in the city all week (as much as I might have liked to do so.) Both gigs were a lot of fun, and I was happy to be able to play with my New York crew again!

Of course there have been some changes in personnel; we had to say goodbye to long time friend and fellow funkateer, bassist Ben Loy as he and his beautiful new family moved out to the west coast. We wish Ben all the best out there, and hopefully one day in the not to distant future we'll be able to get out to Cali and lay down some of that good 'ol west coast funk!

Ben Loy at The Shrine in Harlem, NYC

Back east of course we've had the opportunity to play with some fantastic new players. Of course my good friends drummer Dameyun Henry and percussionist/vocalist Paula Green have been holding steady with me (Paula having recently returned from a touring music production.) We've also had a very talented guitarist named Kyle Christian sitting in and working with us, bringing a touch Prince-inspired rock/funk into the mix as well as some blues (his rendition of Red House made for a nice addition to our sets at Groove.) We've also had bassists Dave Smith and a man who simply goes by Red Bass holding down the low end for us (the latter of whom I came to find out actually penned one of my favorite SOS Band tunes from back in the day called "I'm In Love." If you were a Soul Power listener you would have heard me spin this tune on the air quite often!)

We'll be coming back to New York City on Friday December 13th at The Shrine up in Harlem. This will be our first time doing an extended set at The Shrine, as we will be starting at 10pm and performing until midnight. For all of you New Englanders, be sure to catch the band and I at our next gig coming up at The Back Page in Lowell on Saturday November 16th.

I sincerely hope to see all or most of you out at any of these shows that are in your local area, and as I said before I am working hard to book more shows for the band, so you will have any opportunity to catch us live soon! As always, you can check in to our schedule on the "Tour Dates" page here at www.bigbenhillman.com.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

AT SUMMER'S END


Well technically we still have a few more weeks of summer, but pretty much after Labor Day the general consensus is that summer is over. I hope all of you enjoyed yourselves this summer, taking wonderful vacations and making happy memories. My summer was quite busy, so busy in fact that I've apparently not posted an update to my blog since May! 

The past three months have been kind of a blur to tell you the truth. I really can't even tell you what the hell I've been doing with myself all summer. But I can tell you that I'm taking myself off the road for a little while to focus on writing and recording yet again. While I am at it I am thinking I need to make some much needed updates to the web site (yeah, that young handsome fellow at the top of the page with a big afro - I don't even know who he is anymore! lol) 

There's something very poetic about this time of year; sad yet beautiful. We begin to see subtle changes in the weather and the world around us, kids are going back to school, the circle of life revolves yet again. We're all a year older than we were last fall, and perhaps the autumn as much as anytime gives us cause to reflect on all the changes we've been through. 

As I am not out traveling and performing as much as I was just a few weeks ago, it seems as though all I have is plenty of time to reflect and think about these things. On the surface it might seem a bit depressing to some, but as someone who has battled depression all his life I can tell you: there is a difference between being sad or wistful and being out and out depressed. Sad is okay, depressed not so much. 

In fact I am feeling inspired! The changes we go through in life are inevitable; to live is to change, so let's embrace and celebrate these changes. Let's move forward into this new chapter in our lives not with trepidation but with a reverent jubilation. Let's look forward to all of the wondrous possibilities, all of the positive things that can happen for us if we'd just believe. 



So I've got a few new tunes I'm working on (more than a few, honestly. It's kind of an onslaught of themes and ideas, but I'm in the process of simmering it down to a handful of really good tunes,) and I can't wait to finally get them out of my head and my heart and into the open airways! I am thinking I will put up at least one or two as free downloads to start - so if you've ever thought about buying a Big Ben mp3 but just didn't want to cough up the 99¢ well then this could be your lucky day. 

Keep an eye out for new singles as they will drop here at bigbenhillman.com first. I've got a really hot tune I'm working on called "Friday Night" that will probably be the first tune to drop. In the meantime, I want to leave you with a few lines from a song I wrote called "Summer's End… " 

This lonesome road is trying my soul 
From town to town and show to show 
But I know I'll keep on reaching my goal
If I can just have your love to hold. 

So please say you'll wait for me
And remember how great we'll be 
When we're together at last
And just forget about the past 

I'll be coming home again
And I will see you at summer's end… 

©2013 Benjamin M Hillman (ASCAP) 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

UPDATES!! I'M SORRY, solo gigs, GROOVE...

Well I am very glad to be able to say that the final remaining copies of the "I'M SORRY" CD have all been sold to music-lovers with good taste and have been saved from the dumpster! I'm very happy that my music has found a good home with so many people.



So now that that is over with, the question remians: what is next for Big Ben Hillman? Believe me, I'm just as curious as the rest of you are! All I know is that I've been writing tons of new material and it's good stuff. I can't wait until I can get some new tunes out there!

In the meantime the gigs go on and on: I just finished doing a solo gig at CAFE WHA? last week. This was very exciting for me for two reasons: one being that it was my first time playing at the legendary CAFE WHA?, performing on the stage where so many greats like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix have jammed; secondly it was my first time ever playing a solo gig at a large scale venue in New York City! Just me, a piano and a mic - I was a little nervous in the hours and minutes leading up to the downbeat, I don't mind telling you!


The gig ended up going great and I had a lot of fun! I saw some good folks who I hadn't seen in a few years, including my good buddy and fellow U Mass Lowell alum Milton Ruiz, and talented musician Ricky Ortiz, who snapped this cool photo above. Thanks guys!

Coming up this weekend I will also be performing a solo set at the benefit for marathon bombing victim  Jeff Bauman. This promises to be a very cool gig, held at The Smokehouse in Lowell, MA, the place will be jam-packed with some of the hottest talent in Lowell today, and of course it is for a very good cause. I hope to see a lot of you there!


I know the flier says that D-TENSION will be performing with me, but unfortunately that will not be the case this time around due to a scheduling conflict. D-TENSION and I will be working together on some cool new stuff in the not too distant future, but I will be solo this time around.

In just a couple weeks I am happy to say that my band and I will be returning to CLUB GROOVE in NYC on SATURDAY MAY 11th! We always have a great time at this venue and we're really looking forward to being there again. Shortly thereafter on MONDAY MAY 13th I'll be doing a trio jam up at THE SHRINE in HARLEM. It's been at least a couple of years since I have done a gig at THE SHRINE, so I'm really looking forward to getting back in there and tearing things up!



In between these dates you can catch me on stage with a variety of other acts like TONY GALLO, WHIT LIGHTNING, NAKKED SOUL and HENLEY DOUGLAS to name just a few. Hope to catch you all out there on the dance floor one of these nights! Y'all be good and thank you as always for supporting live, local and independent musicians!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"I'M SORRY" CDs to be DESTROYED!!!

If you're old enough to remember all the way back to 2007, you might remember this song right here:




That's right, it's "I'm Sorry" featuring Fee from One Love, Meyer Statham and myself. Also making cameos in this video are D-Tension, the Godinez Brothers, Ruby from One Love, Shay Muse and Jen Kearney, as well as a host of other friends and family who came down to help us out. Lot's of good memories, and after all these years its still a funky tune!

I got an e mail from CD Baby a couple weeks ago (you remember CD Baby don't you? The company that sells CDs and music downloads for independent musicians such as myself.) stating that they have a "surplus" of "I'm Sorry" CDs that need to be disposed of. Well I was shocked! First of all I haven't given much thought to this disc in some time, after all it was released in 2007. Second of all, how many discs exactly constitutes a "surplus?"

8.

Yup, there are a total of 9 copies of this CD in stock and apparently that is 8 too many. They need to hang onto at least one copy so that they can sell digital downloads (which is I guess how most people are choosing to purchase music in this day and age) and the remainder will be "recycled."



You may be saying "Ben, what's the big deal? These are just some old CDs? What do you care if they are sold or not?"

Let me tell you something about being an independent musician: I bleed, sweat and cry for my music. In my life I have made sacrifices that most people wouldn't even think of so that I could continue making music on my own terms. Every note I play means something to me personally. Every show I play I give my all, and every song that I record I put my heart into every beat and every measure. You may think I am being melodramatic, but let me tell you something else about these discs: I didn't have these made at Discmakers or Oasis or any of these big companies. I made them myself, by hand, from putting together the jewel cases to designing, printing and hand-cutting the j-cards. It was all me!

Well, I had a little help from my friends and bandmates, but you get the idea. So this really does affect me in a personal way. I know its only 8 CDs and ultimately it's not going to make any difference whether they sell or not, but in my mind it'd be such a WASTE to just put them in the recycling bin. Especially when there are still people out there who haven't had a chance to hear the CD or bump it in their car, at a barbecue or at the gym.

I know that those of you who have been with me for years more than likely already have a copy of this disc in your library right now and have been enjoying it for years, but I want to make an impassioned plea to all of my new fans out there who don't have a copy of this album yet. I have lowered the price of the physical album from $9.00 to $6.00 for the purpose of selling them as quickly as possible. Any copies not sold by the end of May will be discarded, and what a shame that would be. I'd rather just sell them for a lowered price so that at least someone could have the opportunity to take the disc home and enjoy it.

Here is the link to the CD Baby store where you can purchase the album:



You may be one of those people who have the disc already, maybe you know someone you think might like it also: send them to this link so that they can purchase a copy, or you could even buy a copy for them and give it as a gift.

Perhaps it is long overdue for me to forget about this old music and finally release something new. You know that I keep talking about it, and I am writing new material everyday. It will happen, I promise you! It won't be long before you'll be able to buy something new from me here at www.bigbenhillman.com. In the meantime, could you do me a favor and help keep my art out of the trash?