Just back from an overseas tour with Lionel Richie, Ben Mauro returned home to the Central New York area to not only relax and catch up with family and friends, but also to launch his new EP, Take Your Time. In an interview with Ben last month, I not only had the opportunity to talk to him about this upcoming release party, but I was also able to review the new album and touch on what inspired the tracks.
Ahead of the show, I joined Ben as he came to speak with the local television station here in Utica, WUTR TV, to give viewers an insight into the release party as well as a sample of music to be played. What better setting for the interview than at Utica Classic Guitars, a shop owned and operated by Robert Acquiviva, a music business icon in the Utica area. Surrounded by guitars, Ben sat down to talk about his experiences, the upcoming EP release party, his show “Let’s Go with Ben Mauro”, and life as a guitarist and musician on the road.
As the day had finally come for the release party at Shifty’s Bar & Grill, best known for their Open Mic Night’s on Wednesdays, the place was completely sold out and packed to capacity to a much-anticipated crowd. Joining Ben on stage that evening was his SAMMY Award winning backup band, Phoenix Eleven, featuring Greg “Goose” LaPoint on drums, Joe Grosvent on bass, and Max McKee on guitar and vocals, as well as special guests Deyquan and Yajha Bowens on keyboards and vocals, and Al Cutri on saxophone. Also joining Ben on stage were good friends and musicians Ricky Chisolm, who Ben once played with in a band, and his musical instructor Rick Balestra who joined in with his electric guitar.
The night was an amazing mix of new releases, old favorites, and some amazing covers of Johnny Cash, The Eagles, and of course Lionel Richie and the Commodores. All in all, it was a great time! [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YCE4f-DTw4]
The crowd loved his new music and was blown away by his amazing guitar playing. Life came full circle for Ben as he returned to celebrate at the very spot he first got up on stage and played in front of a live crowd, except this time it was sold out just for him.