Keyboardist Marco Benevento has been a creative force for quite some time. From playing with Joe Russo in “The Duo” to playing with Mike Gordon, Trey Anastasio, and Russo in GRAB, and sitting in with many legends over the years, Marco is no stranger to impressing audiences with his signature sound. Playing his Hammond B3 and Wurlitzer electric piano, he has made a name for himself as one of the best keyboardists around today. This tour he is changing it up though and using a 63 key acoustic piano and a Synth to make endless loops that are sure to wow the crowd. His latest release Tigerface has been getting rave reviews throughout the year as he has been touring non-stop behind it. I had a chance to talk with Marco about the upcoming Albany show as well as other topics:
Bryan Lasky: Looking back on the year as a whole, it seems like you have played everywhere under the sun. Do you have a favorite moment from a festival or a show?
Marco Benevento: Pickathon was a great festival out in Oregon just outside of Portland. There was a wide varitey of music. In the same weekend I saw Feist, Andrew Bird, some band that led a huge square dance and a great band that played some old 70’s soul music. And our band wound up in the new Pixies video because the film maker loved our set!
BL: What has it meant to your music to be able to play with Dave Dreiwitz and Andy Borger for a long time now? Has it changed your writing process? Is it more collaborative?
MB: We really just have a band vibe now. The live show is unstoppable right now too. I feel like we can throw curve balls left and right at each other and wind up with some nice surprises in our show. I’ve been doing the all of the songwriting, but everyone chimes in with there own unique taste and approach to the songs.
BL: You also played with many other artists and groups, such as The M & M’s at Equifunk, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (JRAD), Bustle in your Hedgerow a number of time celebrating the 10th anniversary of playing together, and various other projects. How does working with all of these other musicians shape your current work?
MB: It’s just nice to have variety. It’s also nice to dive into specific bands and learn a lot of their music. Because of JRAD I now know about 20 or more Dead tunes and because of Bustle I know about 40 Zep tunes and with all of the Levon tributes I know about 40 Band tunes too! It’s important to learn those timeless tunes and to find out what the formula is that makes it timeless!
BL: Lately it seems you’ve been incorporating more lyrics into your songs. What made you go into that direction?
MB: Good question….I have no idea! Although, I can say that it feels like a very natural progression for me. It started with syllable singing to some of the melodies that I wrote. “This Is How It Goes” from TigerFace was a tune that really brought it out I think. At first my wife, myself and some friends sang and recorded the melody to “This Is How It Goes,” then months later I thought I should have one person sing it and Kal (Traver, of Rubblebucket) came to mind because I’ve always loved the sound of her voice. After actually hearing my tune with a vocalist singing the melody instead of the piano playing the melody I feel like a new door opened.