“Ben Sparaco was up for his first Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park show since moving from South Florida to Nashville. At the advanced age of 19 (!!), Sparaco continues to grow as a superb guitarist and band leader. His tremendous set featured six tunes from new album Wooden. He is cut in the mold of Derek Trucks, but Sparaco is his own man in the same way that Trucks is.
Blasting off with “Make Me Feel Alone Tonight,” he was definitely NOT alone during this set. Highlights from the set included an outstanding take on original tune “Walk On the Levee” and great playing on “Mountain Jam” and “That’s It for the Other One” with some sweet note-bending. And about that jazz: Sparaco threw in a dynamite version of Miles Davis’ “So What” in the middle of “Wooden” and quoted “Volunteered Slavery” (Roland Kirk, and a Derek Trucks favorite) during closing “Cypress Hotel.”
If you are keeping track, King just turned 21, Heather Gillis is 22, and Ben Sparaco won’t turn 20 until August. The future of our scene is in very good hands, and these three represent just the tip of the iceberg.”
A surprise visit home to south Florida for two days got extended into a week and a half, thanks to good friends and good music.
Biscuit Fest 6, The Funky Biscuit‘s annual four day festival started a day earlier for me, playing a full show with Crazy Fingers on Wednesday, March 29th.
Friday brought a last minute gig of “Holloway, Collier, and Friends” featuring Ron Holloway, Roosevelt Collier, Rich Friedman and Josh Foster of Crazy Fingers, Andrew Musselman of Tchaa, Rich Conklin, and myself opening for The Main Squeeze. Here is video from that show of “In The Pines.”
Saturday saw another Crazy Fingers show that I sat in at, opening for Oteil Burbridge’s Bureau of Sabotage. Oteil, Ron, and I realized that we all shared an August 24th birthday, hence the picture at the top of this post. Here is a video of “St. Stephen” with Ron Holloway.
Sunday I did an interview/studio session with Blues Radio International and then sat in with Albert Castiglia along with Ron Holloway, Roosevelt Collier, and members of the Chris O’Leary Band to play “Sweet Home Chicago” in honor of Lonnie Brooks.
On the way back to Nashville I stopped in Macon to visit my friend Richard Brent at The Big House Museum who very generously let me spend a while with Duane Allman’s 1957 Goldtop Les Paul used on the first two Allman Brothers Band albums, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, and hundreds of live shows. Here is a short clip of the time I spent with it, from my instagram account @bensparacomusic (which also has other clips from Biscuit Fest).
London-based music blog “musicmusingsandsuch” reviewed the single “Don’t Try To Wake Me Up” off my forthcoming album “Wooden.” It’s an in depth review that also covers my last release, Bring The Jubilee EP and much more. It’s great to get some love from across the pond, where the single was given a 9.2/10 rating.
Some quotes from the review:
“The guitars shine and the delicious licks are not bashful when getting into the earlobes (and other more visible regions). The songwriting looks at humanity and deeper issues but never truly exposes its meanings. The lyrics keep oblique and can be open to interpretations.”
“Don’t Try to Wake Me Up has some of the more spirited and juggernaut components of Bring the Jubilee but there is a tonal shift. Things are more stripped back and there is a move from Country/Blues-Rock to Folk-Rock. That Folk element has not only defined the foundations but the lyrics too. The words are more compelling and direct.”
“The way the vocals sound and are delivered reminds me a little of the late, great Leonard Cohen: there is no quite the low-down gravel and gravy of Cohen’s voice but something in the way it sounds that made me think of him.”
Ben Sparaco’s debut full length album Wooden is now available for preorder on iTunes. When you preorder, you will get two tracks immediately, before it comes out on January 13th. One of these tracks is a brand new single called “Cypress Hotel” featuring Grammy-nominated guitarist Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, The Black Crowes, Phil Lesh and Friends, and more! The other is the lead single “Don’t Try To Wake Me Up.” You can preorder the physical CD under the Shop tab here at bensparaco.com as well.
Ben’s debut full length album Wooden is set to be released worldwide on January 13th, 2017.
Showing a noticeable shift in Ben’s music from straightforward jam-rock, Wooden is a string-fueled Americana exploration with shades of jazz, rock, and soul. Produced by renowned fiddler/mandolin player Ross Holmes (Bruce Hornsby and The Noisemakers, Warren Haynes and The Ashes and Dust Band, formerly Mumford and Sons) at The Bomb Shelter in East Nashville, Tennessee, the album features nine new original songs by Ben and an ambitious cover of “Things Happen” by southern California rock band Dawes off their 2015 album All Your Favorite Bands.
Featuring many of Nashville’s finest session musicians and performers as well as special guests that will be announced closer to the release date, Wooden is as varied as the influences of everybody involved with the record but has a recognizable sound from song to song that is fresh and new.
You can pre-order your CD copy now at bensparaco.com and pre-orders will be available on iTunes and Amazon starting next month.
Photographer Heather Nigro visited The Bomb Shelter during some of the sessions for the new album, taking some incredible pictures. The full album is on Ben’s Facebook page. Each picture has a caption that gives a unique look into the recording process. The release date for Wooden will be announced any day now with pre-order available soon!