My Sunshine

February 21st, 2011

Difficult to tell for sure, but I think today's the day it clicked for Maggie.

"Oh, that sound I keep hearing from the speakers is Daddy."

Maggie's a handfull. I mean, she's actually quite fun: short on tears, long on giggles and squeals. But she's super-curious and uber-wobbly. Maggie's primary passtime is unloading her bookshelf one-by-one, then moving on to her toy basket. There are a thousand potential bumps and bruises in-between. So if she's awake, she needs a spotter.

I was designated spotter all day; Abs was at work. Mags ...

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Golden Slumbers: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” Track-By Track

November 28th, 2010

The hardest part about recording "Golden Slumbers" with Casey Shea was asking Casey Shea to record "Golden Slumbers."

I've known Mr. Shea pushing ten years now. Still, it didn't take ten minutes to discover his affinity for The Fab Four.

At his own wedding, Casey nailed "All My Loving." At my wedding (where the purvasive rumor was that he was John Lennon's Lost Son), he crushed "Twist & Shout."

Heck, one listen to his instant-classic "In Search of Seas," and you know this guy worships at the alter of Lennon & McCartney (with an ...

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You’ve Got A Friend: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” Track-By Track

November 22nd, 2010

I'd been angling to collaborate with Raining Jane's Mai Bloomfield for nearly three years. It took me that long to find the right song.

I first met Mai in 2008. Raining Jane was opening for The Nadas in Des Moines. I was opening for both. The ladies knocked my socks off with their three-part harmony. But it was at the following night's late-night, bandmate-swapping show that I was truly smitten.

Mai, Raining Jane drummer Mona Tavakoli, bassist Becky Gebhardt, and Nada frontman Jason Walsmith joined me for an impromptu performance of ...

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Best “Forever Young” Review Ever!

November 6th, 2010

In seventh grade, Mrs. Culp kicked me out of her music class. That she should find me twenty-five years later to tell me that she's "impressed beyond words" with my new benefit CD, "Forever Young," then, is sweet relief -- and my best review ever.

Mrs. Culp's junior high music class was a south-facing, high-ceilinged, soundproofed-wall affair flooded with sunlight. A student-painted mural of musical staff, notes and instruments was splashed across the beige walls like a Technicolor wave. Mrs. Culp stood before us, a cross between ...

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Sweet Baby James: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” Track-By Track

October 26th, 2010

Jeff Jacobson and Patrick Riley have never met, and are separated by a thousand miles of Heartland. Still, they helped me create one of the most-beautiful recordings of my life.

For nearly twenty years, I've described my brand of singer/songwriter fare as "Less James Taylor, More James Hetfield." It's a stretch for those who know my music, but a necessary recalibration for those who don't and expect softly-strumming guitars and a gentle tenor.

That is, until lately. More and more over the last few years, I've let the distortion slip away ...

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You Are My Sunshine: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” LP Track-By-Track

October 18th, 2010

Funny how things change.

Years ago now, I was in a country cover band called The Smith Family. Almost Home producer Kevin Anthony had tired of of his techno outfit, Electroland, so formed the band with a nod to his Galveston, TX, country roots. I eagerly signed on.

Kevin and I split front man duties evenly, though I enthusiastically saught out the mic for the rockers: "Honky Tonk Blues," "Whiskey River," "Wine Me Up." And "You Are My Sunshine."

See, The Smith Family closed most shows with a rousin', rockin', sing-a-long version of ...

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Mr. Tambourine Man: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” LP Track-By-Track

October 11th, 2010

It may not be immediately apparent, but the "Forever Young" track list is intended to reflect the arch of the day.

From from "Rainbow Connection" through "Moon River," the lyrics, instrumentation, and production start bigger and brighter, then transition to more somber and sleepy.

"Mr. Tambourine Man," then, is all about the transition to night.

"I know evening's empire has returned into sand," Dylan first sang on his 1965 LP, "Bringing It All Back Home." "Vanished from my hand, left me blindly here to stand but still not ...

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Top Seven “Forever Young” Benefit Show Moments

October 6th, 2010

This weekend's two "Forever Young" Benefit CD Release Shows were something special. We performed two: one for kids, and one for folks who like booze. Both were outstanding, and filled with inspiring, outrageous, and silly moments. Here are my top seven:

7 - Fundraising Is Fun We raised nearly $1000 for children's media research and advocacy in 24 hours. But we can do better. Download your copy of "Forever Young" on iTunes now!

6 - We Are Stardust Man, how lucky am I? A couple of emails and a handful of bona fide New York City's rock ...

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The Only Living Boy In New York: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” LP Track-By-Track

October 5th, 2010

Growing up, "The Boxer" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" were in far heavier rotation than "The Only Living Boy In New York." Sadly (perhaps), it took 2004's "Garden State" to re-introduce this Simon & Garfunkle classic, the b-side to "Cecilia."

Apparently, Simon wrote the song as a thinly-veiled message to Art Garfunkel when he jetted off to Mexico to act in Catch-22" leaving Simon alone in New York writing songs for what would become "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

In the intervening years since re-discovering this gem, I've spend hours ...

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Rockwood Music Hall (New York, New York)

October 2nd, 2010 - 3:00 pm