Where Are You Calling From? (Or, Virtual Rock & Roll)

August 23rd, 2010

I probably should have known better than to be working on a new album during MTV Video Music Awards season, but here I am, knee deep in "Forever Young" with less than two weeks to go until the channel's big night.

The timing was, of course, to be expected. As my colleague, Rachel, put it, "No one does fall like you." I have a long history of Q3 releases ("Almost Home," "Love & Other Indoor Games") typically jammed-packed amidst marathons and tours. This year, though, the reasoning was simple: "Forever Young" is inspired by Maggie. By ...

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Something To Say

March 29th, 2010

It wasn't until somewhere around Christopher Street that I realized that Thursday night's Rockwood Music Hall set was littered with references to breaking silence, speaking up and being heard.

From "Giving Up The Ghost" ("It's impossible to argue / It's impossible to scream") to "Live Forever" ("There's nothing left here to say"), "St. Anne (Of The Silence)" to "Dear Elizabeth" ("I still have something to say"), "Trying To Tell You" to "I'll Be Waiting" ("This is a message to you"), the set -- in this case drafted by my pal Chris Abad but ...

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“A Holiday Benefit, Vol. 3” Release Party Is Tonight!

December 16th, 2009

Twelve hours from now, "A Holiday Benefit, Vol. 3" will be in full swing at Pianos! Which is a good thing; I don't think I have the energy to do yesterday over.

I tucked all sorts of small tasks into my already busy day at The MTV: gathering 826NYC materials, a final email to all of the performers, lyric sheets for our big finale ("Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You," what else?).

At 7:45, I raced straight from work to Sirius Radio headquarters there across from Radio City Music Hall. I spent about fifteen minutes on air with ...

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“A Holiday Benefit, Vol. 3” Single & Track List Revealed

November 29th, 2009

One Indian summer afternoon a few weeks ago, singer/songwriters Casey Shea, Paula Valstein, Emily Easterly, Andy Mac, Martin Rivas, Ruby Rivers, Amber Rubarth, Chris Abad, plus bassist Tony Maceli, drummer Jamie Alegre and I converged on Chris Cubeta's Galuminum Foil Studios in Brooklyn to conjure up a little bit of Christmas in October.

Our cover of Billy Squier's classic "Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You" kicks off the annual "A Holiday Benefit" with equal parts harmony and hilarity; you can practically hear us smiling our way ...

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Home Is Where Your Friends Are

July 29th, 2009

God bless The Nadas.

First they ask me to contribute a song to their "Crystalline" project, a compilation of Authentic Records' artists covering The Nadas in honor of the band's fifteenth anniversary.

So I recorded a bang-up version of "Feel Like Home" with Chris, Jamie and Tony a few weeks ago which Jon Locker (sustaining emails like, "In the breakdown section, can you compress the drums like in original or breakdown in "trying to tell you" to provide more dramatic change?") mixed last week.

Then they ask me to play the Authentic ...

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Black Or White – MP3

June 28th, 2009

From the moment the Michael Jackson story broke Thursday night, just one song has been on my mind.

I appreciate that most would cite "Beat It," "Billie Jean," or "Thriller" as Michael's finest pop song, and they may well be right; they're great songs with great hooks. But it's Jackson's 1991 "Dangerous" single, "Black or White," that's been lodged in my head all weekend.

And for good reason. Yes, Michael Jackson was a musical (and marketing) genius. But he also knew when to tap top talent. For "Black or White," he called on co-writer ...

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Someday Soon

March 30th, 2009

Not that anyone noticed, but I took Q1 off from rock 'n roll.

Dateline: December 31, 2008. Between my new job description, marathon training, long-delayed documentary, and never-ending aspirations to rock, I figured something had to give. I'm never gonna' succeed at anything if I don't focus up. Something had to give. I chose rock 'n roll in favor of my day job. There: I said it. I chose middle management over music.

Of course, that decision was probably made long ago. I moved to New York fourteen years ago this month. And while ...

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March (Going On April)

March 23rd, 2009

In February, I traveled to and from California three times in as many weeks (with a break in the middle to run a marathon. At the end of that red eye-inducing run, I decided that I could provide greater value to my colleagues, my wife, and myself right here in New York. So I put the breaks on.

This was the unprecedented third weekend in a row that I've spent home with Abbi. And while these otherwise lazy weekends still pass with remarkable speed, they have certainly proven valuable. For starters, my guitar has not only made its way out ...

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Forever & Always

January 8th, 2009

You may recall that one of the "A Holiday Benefit, Vol. II" silent auction items was a "Custom Benjamin Wagner Song."

This was the pitch: "Singer/songwriter will collaborate with YOU on a song. At the end of the process, you’ll get two (2) signed CDs with YOUR song plus original album art. Minimum Bid: $75."

At the end of the night, the item had three bids. I decided to take them all, netting 826NYC $386. I followed up immediately with each bid (actually, one bid came from a loose affiliation of four friends), only one of whom had a ...

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“A Holiday Benefit, Vol. II” Takes Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

December 6th, 2008

A few years ago now, I returned to my alma mater, Syracuse University, to speak to students about how to get a job (or, more specifically, how I got my job, and lessons I've learned that might be of some valuable to them).

It's a speech I would later give at Emerson College, and have adapted and re-presented to various internship and graduate programs since. In fact, I'll be dusting it off this Monday night.

Anyway, I addressed three separate classrooms that day before driving past my band's house ("The Smokehouse") to the hill high ...

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