Ben Lacy: Bad Ass
'Hendrix of our day' coming to Sacred Heart
Last Updated: Friday, February 18th, 2005 12:19:17 PM
Duluth guitar maker Ed Schaefer first met Ben Lacy at a trade show, where Lacy was to perform. Schaefer and apparently much of the audience had never heard of Lacy.
He was to open for a better known performer, Schaefer said, and he walked onto the stage, just a Kentucky boy with holes in his jeans and tennis shoes.
He started to play, first with a percussive sound. Then, while still playing, he asked if he should add some bass. He did. Then a guitar playing the melody. Then a rhythm guitar.
This was all on the same guitar.
“So he sounds like two guitars, bass and percussion all at the same time,” he said.
Pretty soon people associated with the headliner, who apparently had never heard of Lacy either, started watching. He ended up inviting Lacy and his “four instruments” up on stage to play with his one to make a quintet. The whole incident got written up in Vintage Guitar magazine.
“He blew me away, man,” Schaefer said. “... He was the show.”
“I would call him the Jimi Hendrix of our day,” Schaefer said, not referring to Lacy’s sound so much as his innovation.
“Those are big words,” he admits, not backing away from them a bit.
Lacy, who now plays at all those kinds of shows, will perform at Sacred Heart Music Center and give a master class at Schaefer’s shop below Electric Fetus Saturday, Feb. 26.
Lacy, in a friendly and talkative phone interview, is caught speechless for a beat when told of the comment.
“Now he’s making me nervous,” Lacy said. “... That’s a huge compliment right there.”
And also a big responsibility, he notes.
Lacy originally started playing the cello, and his father plays bluegrass guitar.
But his other main inspiration, as is the case with many 34-year-old guitar players, was Eddie Van Halen. Lacy played in rock and metal bands, starting at about age 13, “sneaking into bars and playing,” he said.
But though the rock and metal influence is significant, Lacy has always had other interests. He played in pop, funk and dance bands. He still plays jazz.
“There’s a lot of spices in the spice rack there,” he said, noting that he’s trying to get all those influences into his work.
And he was not fully satisfied playing in bands. One night, he was working up his own version of the Led Zepplin song “Cashmere” and stumbled into some of the techniques he now applies to cover a wide variety of songs. “It just sort of blew up,” he said.
Why play one instrument when you can play four? He began making his own arrangements of favorite songs, using a clean guitar sound rather than a distorted one. He’s incorporated his love of bass and percussion into his own style.
And variety is the spice of his music. He’ll do the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Marvin Gay, James Brown. He does Toto and the Bee Gees and Joe Jackson.
He says he’ll be walking through the grocery store late at night and hear something that inspires him. It’s not just “Stairway to Heaven.”
If there’s any formula in what makes a good song for him, it’s a nice groove or outstanding melody or a bass line different enough from the guitar that he can stack them up. He also likes songs with horns.
He says he’s now getting invited to play all over and “just enjoying it, doing a lot of traveling.”
He says he doesn’t plan much about master classes but will show some of the techniques he’s developed. “I just like to show a different approach to guitar playing and hopefully give people new ideas on the instrument,” he said.
The Sacred Heart Show is set for 8 p.m. Feb. 26. Cost is $15 in advance, $20 the day of the show. For details, call 733-1895 or visit http://www.sacredheartmusic.org.
The master class is set for the same day from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $20 per student. Call Schaefer at 722-1766 to register
Video of Ben jamming "Cashmere" Here
I think I may have jammed with him before. It was a long, long time ago when I lived in Lexingburg. I remember always hearing good things about him.
Originally Posted by Darby
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