Thursday, July 12, 2012

''GUITAR GODS: Ben Lacy''

- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
Originally published at Tinfoil Music
Date: Monday, July 28 2003 @ 01:08:04 BST


               I first heard Ben Lacy when he was playing for a heavy-metal band back in the '89 or '90. I remember they were Pantera-like - very heavy grooves and wicked guitars - but the guitar player struck me as well above par. He was extremely clean and articulate...and fast. He also seemed to blaze through the barrage of notes in an effortless fashion and had a command of all the most difficult contemporary technique.

Several weeks later, I wandered into a jazz club and heard an awesome three-piece smoking through some classics, breathing new life into old standards. I made my way to the stage and saw a guy who looked exactly like the heavy metal player, but was sure they weren't the same guy. Couldn't be - this guy was playing in an entirely different style with completely different techniques and was obviously in possession of immense musical knowledge.

As I walked into work a few days later (composing & engineering at a local recording studio), one of the other engineers, Les Campbell, said, "You gotta hear this project I'm working on!". He slotted the DAT and out came some incredible solo guitar music. "He does some jazz things around town and also has a heavy-metal band, but these are some ideas he's got for a solo project. What do you think?" I think this guy can walk on water - who is it?!?


Needless to say, that guitarist was Ben Lacy: Guitar instructor, recording & performing artist, and 6-string wizard.

I lost touch with Ben's career for a while, but then bumped into Tom Skidmore (who mastered Ben's CD, "One Track Mind") in 2002. "Man, there is this hip player named Ben Lacy - you've just GOT to see him....".

No kidding - and so does the rest if the world.

Ben sounds like 2 or 3 players playing together in a style reminiscent of Tuck Andress and Stanley Jordan, but with more fire and such a deep groove that Osama bin-Laden would hit the dance floor. Using an incredible array of advanced techniques (bass-string slapping, fret-hand tapping, blazing legato runs, pitch-perfect bends, sizzling harmonics, and more), Ben floors everyone who sees & hears him, including such masters as Al DiMeola, Phil Keagy, and Muriel Anderson (who called him one of her favorite new talents in her recent TinFoil "Guitar Gods" interview).

One has to see Ben to truly appreciate him. Though listening to Ben is great, one can forget that it is only one man (with no overdubs) making all that beautiful noise! However, if you can't catch Ben live in your area, you can make due (for now) with his latest CD, "One Track Mind". Also be sure to see him at NAMM shows at the Brian Moore Guitar booth, and check out his web-site (which has sound clips and touring info) at www.benlacy.com!

I spoke to Ben last month just prior to his performance with Emmy Award winner Jay Flippin and Grammy nominee Gayle Wynters - check it out!

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1) What are your current projects?

Arranging original material for second CD.

2) How does this differ from your past work?

The new material has a deeper groove, with more emphasis on melody.

3) Do you have one project that you are most proud of as a guitarist?

Getting to open up for and play with Al DiMeola, or getting to share the stage with Phil Keaggy and Victor Wooten at Muriel Anderson's All Star Guitar Night Tribute to Chet Atkins at the Ryman Auditorium in July of 2002.

(ed note: Ben played again last week at Muriel's 2003 All Star Guitar Night, honoring guitar legend Les Paul.)

4) Can you give our readers a run-down of your basic gear (live and/or studio)?

Brian Moore I2 and DC1, which are both Les Paul-like. Koch tube amp combo for clean, SWR strawberry blonde acoustic amp for piezo and Elixir Strings, of course.

5) Who would you cite as early influences, and who are you favorite new players?

Early influences are Eddie Van Halen, Steve Morse, Wes Montgomery, Tuck Andress. My favorite new players are bass player Otiel Burbridge and Charlie Hunter. Lately I draw a lot of inspiration from unlikely non-guitar playing sources like Stevie Wonder and James Brown.

6) Can you give a few tips to aspiring players?

Always be playing, never be so arrogant to think you can't learn anymore, and try to find your own voice.

7) What are your future plans?

Continue to learn!

8) Thanx for talking to us, Ben!

Thank you very much.

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