Benjamin Francis Leftwich Up-close and Personal

The Soda Bar is an up-close and personal music venue in San Diego, known to host many talented artists. Benjamin Francis Leftwich recently stopped by while on tour for his second album, “After the Rain,” before heading back to London. I had the opportunity to talk to him before the show, which I, unfortunately, was not able to attend because of age restrictions. But, Leftwich assured me that he tried his hardest to get me in. What a sweetheart!

Because this was his last show in the states, we talked about him exploring San Diego. Sadly, he had to head straight to the airport after the show. The traveling and long car rides never stop! Although, he did make it clear how humbled and fortunate he felt about being able to tour with this album.

To kick off the interview, we talked about his most recent album, “After the Rain.” Leftwich commented that the songs on this album are very much “straight to the point and clear and objective,” when compared to the music on his first album, “Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm.” Leftwich said, “This is the most honest music I’ve ever written.”

I asked if the theme of this album revolved around new beginnings, or was inspired by the recent passing of his father. Leftwich then explained that everyone has their own interpretation of his music and it’s meaning, which he encourages and appreciates.

“Music has always been a part of my life,” Leftwich said.

Throughout it all, from playing guitar and piano with his family, to forming a band with friends as a teen, to his current journey on the road, he’s made it a priority to keep family close. Leftwich spoke highly of his sister, the person he tries to talk to the most while on the road. “Music, and family, most importantly, bring me the most joy in life. I [owe] everything to that,” he stressed.

I asked Benjamin how he felt when listening to live music or his favorite artists. He told me that he grew up with the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen. Now, he listens to Chance the Rapper, Drake, and Frank Ocean. He maintained that it’s important to him to let those various and diverse inspirations show in his work. He added, “Sometimes I need them to get out of my own head.”

Leftwich stated that he does not get nervous before playing. He focuses on connecting with the audience. He wants his songs to be felt.

As our conversation wound down, Leftwich gave some last minute advice to anyone pursuing music as a career. He suggested, “[Don’t] be afraid to take risks. You need to be open-minded in the industry because like many have said before me, it’s not always easy.” He also encouraged people to be true to themselves. Great advice.

I personally want to thank Benajamin Francis Leftwich for the interview. Hopefully, there will be another one soon.

Featured image provided by Benjamin Francis Leftwich, 2016.

Programming Preview

KCR is in the midst of the first week of shows for the 2017 Spring semester. With so much programming to choose from, it is impossible to pick just one show to listen to. Here’s a quick preview of a few shows to listen for this semester. Beware of some shameless self-promotion ahead…

The Road Less Traveled, Tuesdays 8-9 pm with Kelsey Donahue

Genre: Music

The title says it all, this show takes you down the musical road less traveled by the general and musically challenged public. From punk to classic rock and everywhere in between, the only top 40 songs on this show are the ones that ended up there on accident. Solo host Kelsey rants about random music knowledge, her personal irritations and provides the occasional wise words of wisdom.

I’m Shook Radio, Wednesday 7-8 pm with Alex Piscatelli and Will Fritz

Genre: Entertainment

I’m Shook Radio with Alex Piscatelli and Will Fritz is a nationally-renowned show about friendship, love, happiness and being yourself. Just kidding. They mostly rant and make jokes about their lives.

Brett & Mackee In The Morning, Thursdays 7-9 am

Genre: Variety Morning Show

The show is hosted by Brett Michel and Mackee Dimick, two friends from Southern California who met in their first year at State. Every week, they’ll be playing games, reading news and providing you with entertaining talk radio for your morning! If you’re looking for music, they’ll be playing a unique mix of punk, rock, electronic and hip hop. Whether you’re in the car, at home or on campus, Brett and Mackee In The Morning will be there to help you start your Thursday right!

 

 

21 & Not Pregnant, Thursdays 8-9 pm

Genre: Entertainment

21 and not pregnant is a ghettofab perspective on important issues like reality television, dumplings and our lord and savior Kanye. Tony and Daisy have blessed the airwaves since they were 18 and not pregnant.

 

These are just a few of the dozens of shows on KCR this semester. Tune in 24/7 for all of the great programming that KCR has to offer!

A Year In Concert Review (Or More Like Half A Year)

2016 is winding down and it’s been quite the year to say the least. Unfortunately, I was MIA from the concert scene for the first half of the year due to insufficient funds. However, the second half of the year was enough to fulfill all of my concert needs.

August- Flogging Molly

Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theater at SDSU

This concert was an early birthday present from my brother and it was incredible. The open air theater is not my favorite venue because if you have cheap seats, it’s difficult to see the stage. However, the dancing middle aged adults and great Irish music made the literal height of the seats manageable. I always welcome an excuse to celebrate my Irish heritage, other than wearing green and eating copious amounts of potatoes.

 

October- Yellowcard

House of Blues

Even if you don’t know me, a quick click on any one of my social media accounts will tell you that I am OBSESSED with the band Yellowcard. So, I was obviously biased going into this concert. I loved it, aside from their new music which is sub-par at best. This show was advertised as their last show in San Diego ever, but they have since added another San Diego show in March. Although I am a die-hard fan, I was really off put by what seems like a ploy for more money.

 

November- Watsky

SOMA

I’d never been to SOMA before this show, but there’s nothing really exciting to say about the venue. It’s got a warehouse kind of vibe, which would definitely be cool at a punk kind of show, but this was a white rapper kind of show. The phrase “white rapper” gets a negative connotation typically and rightfully so (cough, cough G-Eazy). George Watsky changed my opinion on this as his rap really leans into the poetry aspect of rhythm and poetry (aka rap) and he is accompanied by an actual band. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this show, I highly recommend checking out Watsky.

 

November- Iration

Del Mar Fairgrounds

Iration seems to be the perfect musical sound for the San Diego area, cool and calm. Did I already say cool? That needs to be stated multiple times. This concert happened immediately following the horse races at the Del Mar Racetracks, which is important to note because that brings a cast of interesting characters to the show. This includes high class San Diego race goers wearing fancy hats and smoking jackets as well as the hordes of college students pretending to be them. Then there were people like me, dressed in dark colors, solely there for the music. Anyways, this was my favorite concert of the year because I really felt the music. It was one of those unexplainable music moments; I will always be able to look back on that day and remember exactly how I felt listening to my favorite song, “Falling”. My holiday wish to all of you is that you get to experience one of these unforgettable moments, whether it be at a concert or at home with your family this holiday season.

 

A Look at the Moana Soundtrack

Disney has a new princess. Moana hit theaters a few weeks ago. With a stellar cast and an even more stellar soundtrack, the film does two very cool things:

1. It features a non-white female protagonist with no romantic story line as the lead character

2. It features Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson singing.

The film has a lot of really fantastic elements, including animal sidekicks, beautiful animation and some really funny bickering between Maui (The Rock) and Moana (Auli’i Cravalho).

The Moana soundtrack is full of original music written by Hamilton composer and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.  The soundtrack also features music by Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i.

Newcomer and Hawaaian native Auli’i Cravalho shines in the part. The 16-year-old’s voice conveys a passion and strength unexpected in someone so young. Her best song, How Far I’ll Go, gives Frozen’s Let it Go a run for its money.  The soundtrack does an excellent job of capturing the spirit of Hawaiian culture and adventure in the music.

Miranda not only led his song-writing skills, but his vocals to a few songs as well. The soundtrack is full of talented musicians. Jemaine Clement, one half of the Flight of the Concords duo, lends his voice as well. Although Clement’s strange giant snail character seemed to be an unnecessary and even distracting addition to the film, his singing is catchy and well done.

With such an impressive amount of musical talent in Moana, I was surprised to find that my favorite song of the entire film was actually performed by The Rock.

His voice is unexpectedly fantastic and although he may not have as strong a voice as some of his cast mates, his energy and goofiness won my heart. The Rock has a confidence and an undeniable energy that’s absolutely contagious. His egotistical character Maui sings a song called You’re Welcome to Moana, essentially spending three minutes singing about how awesome he is and telling her “you’re welcome” for his very existence.

Check out the soundtrack. Not only does it have all the catchy songs from the film, but also includes some cool covers by various artists and demos performed by Miranda.

Moana–the soundtrack and the film– are absolutely fantastic. Go hit the theater and enjoy Moana’s musical adventure across the sea to try and save her people with the help of a self-absorbed demigod. The film is charming, heartfelt and very entertaining. Disney did not disappoint on this one.