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An interview with Jazz Fest late night staple Marco Benevento

The great pianist, composer and mad music scientist Marco Benevento is our Artist of the Month for May. He’s no stranger to the Big Easy and has become a huge part of the large contingent of non-local artists who set up shop for a round-the-town residency for the duration of Jazz Fest. With the mesmerizing and experimental solo album Between The Needles and Nightfall released last year and the brand new LP Always Be Happy, But Stay Evil with Garage A Trois hitting the racks just this month, Marco has been keeping crazy busy both on the road and in the studio.

A few words with Marco Benevento:

You are doing 10 shows over the next 10 days in 7 different venues including a handful of late, late night (which is a ton but Stanton Moore is doing 27) – Not only how do you do it, but how does he do it? Seems like a good tour manager is a must to pull something like that off.

I do it with the help of a combination of things:

The Gris Gris Man
Playin’ with Johnny V and Georgey P at the Maple Leaf…in our pajamas!
And Yerba Mate

Stanton does it with:

Iced Coffee
Adam Kelly
And Papa (and Aletta of course)

Do you get some time on your own to enjoy Jazz Fest? If so, who are you making sure not to miss out on this year?

I do! I’ve seen some great musicians at the fest — Dr John, Paul Simon, Ornette Coleman, My Morning Jacket. Especially looking forward to Ahmad Jamal, Rotary Downs, and Wilco this year. I also can’t wait to see Skerik jam with Kenny G!

When do you/do you sleep?

Between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 a.m.

The super jam tradition is such an important part of Jazz Fest and other events it helped inspire (i.e. Jam Cruise and Bonnaroo). Any particular super jams over the years that stick out for you above the rest (G.R.A.B. in ’06 w/ Phil Lesh was a pleasant, and huge, surprise for me as a fan)?

That one sticks out for me as well!. Just had a great jam with Surprise Me Mr Davis (Nathan Moore, Brad Barr, Andrew Barr, Marc Friedman) at SXSW in Austin and John Popper sat in with us — he sounded real good. Those kinds of things will be happening A LOT down here!!

And a few words about Garage A Trois:

Always Be Happy, But Stay Evil are some kind of words to live by; where did that name come from? Also, who designed the album cover?

Skerik’s daughter KoKo.

Tell us about the recording process for the new GAT record =- I understand you guys headed up to the Studio in the Country.

We tracked and overdubbed on all of the tracks in 4 days and worked with a great engineer, Randall Dunn from Seattle. The studio is totally gorgeous. It’s where Stevie Wonder’s The Secret Life of Plants was recorded as well as Kansas’ “Dust In The Wind.” The studio also has a reverb chamber (a huge square cemented side room) so Skerik, Randall and I “explored the space” and used a couple of those experiments as interlude music on the record.

Stay tuned for Part Two of the interview next week.

Marco Benevento – The Real Morning Party


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