Ben Marshall: Guitarist-Songwriter, Vocalist, Performer, and Producer.
It has BEN a journey! His earliest memories of music were dancing around the house, singing along to Elton John and Beatles records with his family when he was just a child. By age 11, he was drawn to the guitar and remembers bugging his parents to buy him one. After constant persistence, he received his first guitar at the early age of 13. While the neighborhood kids were out playing, he was up in his bedroom listening and trying to jam along with Jim Croce, Muddy Waters, Led Zeppelin, Boston, Eric Clapton, and The Beach Boys records, to name a few. “I had a record player and a bunch of vinyl records, and I would just listen and try to play along,” says Marshall. He can remember that some of the neighbors thought it a bit odd that he spent so much time in his room. “I was just simply dedicated and was really bitten by the blues bug at an early age. I was completely focused on learning from the greats like BB King, Eric Clapton, and Muddy Waters.” The sound of blues music touched a spot deep within his soul.
Along with learning by ear, he was also introduced to George Yeatman, Sr. and studied classical guitar with him for a few years. This helped him develop his technique and a unique finger style. “He was really hard on me, but I am so glad I had the opportunity to study with him and learned the value of hard work and the importance of dedicating yourself to your craft.” Yeatman was a guitarist during the big band era and a well-known musician in the Baltimore area. “He played a huge role in my early development as a musician and he is deeply missed.”
Throughout the years, Marshall has focused more and more on the art of songwriting and has had the opportunity to work with some talented individuals. His musical influences are diverse, and he is constantly listening and learning from various artists. “My biggest influences in my early twenties were artists like Elliott Smith, Jeff Buckley, and Nick Drake. Since then, I have expanded my musical palate to a broader range of artists and am always in search of music that moves me.”
His current EP, Point of No Return, was a musical collaboration with producers David Vox Mullen and Joe Buchanan. The album also featured Andrew Alexander on drums and Bernie Mack as the Sound Engineer. Released in 2015, Point of No Return features seven original songs that encapsulate a broad range of the artist’s style. “Working with Joe and David was hard work. They really stretched me as an artist and person. I learned a lot about the artistry of songwriting from them. I also feel that I walked away from the experience as a better vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, and person.”
Ben is currently working on songs for a new EP entitled “The Price of Dreams,” which is to be released in October 2017 with multi-instrumentalist Andrew LaGioia. The album will be recorded at Barefoot Studios in Beecher, IL, which works primarily analog. Mack will return and lend his experience as the sound engineer and co-producer. Other local Chicago musicians will make special guest appearances on the album as well. “The new EP will be taking things back to the basics and will be recorded on a 16-track analog machine. I’m really excited about recording on tape again as the process truly captures that perfect moment without any gimmicks.”
Ben’s career goals are to create music for a broad audience without losing musical freedom and to express his deeper spiritual lyrics in his songs. He feels that freedom to create and experiment is essential in coming up with the best music and finding your voice as an artist. Ben hopes to someday have his music placed in films, TV, and radio. He also would like to work with and write for well-known major artists. Ben was selected to attend a songwriting convention in Los Angeles, California in 2016, where he met and worked with industry professionals with the hopes of fostering new relationships for future opportunities. During his time in LA, he also had the opportunity to open up for Leif Garrett at the legendary Whiskey a Go Go on the Sunset Strip.