First/Last-Ben Valasek and The Growlers

May 31, 2013

Ben Valasek and The Growlers Club Cafe
Saturday, June 1, 2013 Southside

“Now, take his musical resume and combine it with three seasoned musicians (Michael Starr, Ron Leard, and Zach Wolfe), who are influenced by The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin and The Grateful Dead, and lock them in a hunting camp for three days with four carloads of recording equipment, and you get the debut album ,”Time Waits for No One”, by Ben Valasek and the Growlers.

After receiving widespread attention for his previous solo album, “Under the Peach Tree”, Ben Valasek has spent the last two years writing, gigging endlessly, and assembling the Growlers. When these guys aren’t kayaking or brewing beer, they are playing music to audiences everywhere and gaining attention for their sound. This sound is now available to take home with the release of “Time Waits for No One” on June 1, 2013.”

Check out the band at their official Website, Facebook, ReverbNation, and MySpace. They hit Club Cafe for tomorrow night’s early show for the release of their new CD, “Time Waits for No One“, with special guest Mark Dignam. My thanks to Ben for taking a few minutes to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?

I can’t truly answer that but can tell you that I grew up at the end of the album era and the beginning of the cassette tape era. This was also the time when siblings still shared bedrooms. Looking down from the top bunkbed, I can remember seeing the following albums under our record player that my older brother and I owned: The Police, Men at Work, Metallica, ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic, etc….those were some good days.

Your last album bought?

Other than a lot of local music, I don’t buy a lot of other stuff. The last true album I bought was from Brandi Carlile. That chick has a great grittiness to her voice in addition to a tender quality that can captivate you very quickly.

Favorite album of all time?

Hmmmmm….that’s a loaded question. I would answer this based on what album affected me the most personally. There’s an album called “The American” by Martin Sexton that probably influenced me the most as a singer. For some reason, that CD demonstrated to me the true power a single voice can make without a ton of instrumentation.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?

Can’t answer that one because I only buy stuff that I like…..haha.

First concert attended?

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 88/89….right after the AJ Palumbo Center opened. My best friend’s older brother took us down because we weren’t old enough to drive……pretty wild that he is still singing some of the same tunes and packing places.

Last concert?

Preservation Hall Jazz Band…..great show…..true talent and class.

Favorite concert ever?

I’m not sure why I went or how I got tickets because I wasn’t even a fan, but I wound up at a Hall and Oates concert at Star Lake probably 20 some years ago. It was a stripped down show with minimal instrumentation. To this day, I’m not a huge fan of Hall and Oates, but that concert impacted me profoundly. I remember leaving that show and thinking that a few guys and a few instruments sounded so pure and captivated so many people. I can’t say it was the best concert, but it made me look at music differently.

Least favorite concert?

Put it this way, if you have to dance and put on a huge stage production the entire show, it’s probably not my cup of tea. I appreciate shows where the music and the musicians can stand alone, whether that be a solo acoustic musician or a heavy metal band. I just want to see people play music without the circus side show.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh is a pretty cool place based on the people that have made it that way. The small pockets of ethnic backgrounds truly make the city a cultural melting pot of art, food, and work. As a musician and fan of music, there are more concerts coming in and out of the city every night now than ever. You can catch a different national/regional act in addition to your local shows daily because of some of the new venues that have opened. Now, the city has to develop a reputation for music outside of the area.

Thanks, Ben. Also, thanks so much for the new CD, man. Been digging it, big time!