Go meet Ben. You will enjoy his company and sense of humor, but you will be thankful for his capacity to bring your music to the level beyond where you envisioning it could go.
Feel free to email me if you have questions. That's how much I support his work.
Ben Bernstein: Reviews
Deborah Crooks: Blink
Other Halves is an EP with only four songs. It ends with a cover of Neil Young’s Heart of Gold; this has never been my favorite song, but Deborah Crooks does it justice. The EP starts with two original Americana songs that are very fine. But the kicker is Blink. The song opens with just stand-up bass, and the listener is wondering where this will go. Are things about to turn jazzy? But then the drums and organ come in, and things become clear: this is reggae! There are no other instruments on this one, but none are needed. Crooks comes in on vocals, and it just gets better. She sings Blink in a sultry bluesy alto. It may not sound like these pieces should fit together, but do they ever. It doesn’t hurt that the lyrics are a beautifully written meditation on the passing of time, but that’s just a bonus.
I Just finished my two new singles. "Baby I Got Your Fix" and "Don't Do me Like That." I have been be at Petting Zoo Studios here in Oakland this past two months working on the tunes with co-producer, bassist and mixing engineer Ben Bernstein and he is AWESOME to work with.
Deborah Crooks, It's All Up to You. Deborah Crooks describes her music as Americana, but it mostly exists at the bluesier end of that spectrum. There's something almost cabaret-like about "Let's Move"; there's a distinct Latin influence on "It's All Up to You," and "Sunday Best" sounds downright Celtic. This is a more diverse take on Americana with a distinctly female tone, and quite charming. (self-released)
Ben is the producer I’ve been looking for. First, you’ll notice his professionalism and great rates. Then you’ll be drawn in by his enthusiasm and creative ideas. Next, you’ll feel supported by his warmth, ease, and humor in the studio. You’ll be impressed when he finds the perfect session players. And when hear the final track, you’ll we wowed, in tears, and more-than-satisfied at your amazing recording. I was so impressed with his work on my Welcome Home single, that I’ve booked him to do my full record this summer. That’s Ben Bernstein.
PRESS: 'Student Success Story' on Pyramind.com.
Ryan Mintz documents his pre-production experience with Producer Ben Bernstein at the Petting Zoo.
"Ben Bernstein's professionalism, technical skill-set, and patient supportive presence are invaluable and primary factors in the success of my most recent album. When I began looking to collaborate with an engineer for my most latest collection of songs, Ben Bernstein was the number one choice. As I am both the producer and artist for my music, I needed someone who would elevate my performance in the studio in both capacities. This album was going to be my most polished and challenging studio album (some songs had easily over 50 tracks). I was incredibly fortunate that Ben accepted my invitation to work in my studio, and for nine months we recorded what did become a sonic masterpiece. Ben's ability to quickly manipulate the software (ProTools in this case), hardware, microphones and placement, and troubleshoot any setbacks truly allowed me to do my job as an artist. Ben's own musical skill coupled with his patience consistently pushed and fostered my best performances in the studio to date. His punctuality, friendly demeanor and great sense of humor helped create an environment in the studio that I looked forward to and flourished within. I continue to work with him beyond the release of the album we worked on and see him as a pivotal member of both my team and my artistic success. Ben rocks. Please feel free to email me and ask me any questions about my time with Ben."
"I had an upcoming tour of the Northwest and needed to get previously recorded songs mastered as well as record two final songs to complete my debut EP. A fellow musician recommended Petting Zoo Studios so I gave Ben a call. From start to finish, I found Ben professional, full of creative ideas, and a great problem solver. He recorded the tunes which included working with violin, cello, upright bass, button accordion, guitar and several tracks of vocals. Oh, and foot stomps were a great idea he had in lieu of a bass drum. The final product exceeded my expectations. If you are looking for a comfortable, well-equipped and affordable recording studio, work with Ben. He will set you up!"
“Ben applied his lifetime of experience as a musician playing a wide spectrum of genres, practiced ear and relaxed but on-task work style to the producers chair to bring my songs up to broadcast quality. A professional in the best sense.”
“Ben's extremely reliable and is dedicated to my clients' success. His ears are on point and he knows his audio tools very well. He's personable and professional and always contributes to the session positively. Whether for production, composition, Bass tracks or recording, Ben is a terrific asset to the Pyramind team or any musical production!”
“Ben is always on time and prepared for his sessions. He deals well with people and always has his client's best interest in mind. His pleasant attitude and professional demeanor make him an asset to have on any team.”
“Ben Bernstein is a consummate professional musician. He has contributed to my band, Culann's Hounds, for 6 years and always been a welcome addition. Ben helped arrange our 2nd album, Year of the Dog, on which he played all the bass parts. Ben has also helped our band arrange and write pop originals. If you are looking for bass playing, arranging, writing, or recording, Ben Bernstein is a great person to connect with.”
"There are few people that have the professional experience, the skill, the art and the means. Ben Bernstein is one of them, with the ability to masterfully take on any project and sculpt it into a piece of artwork--on time and under budget. Words don't do him or his work justice."
They don’t use the term vanity label for self-released albums like the vanity presses of book publishing, and with Ben Bernstein’s first solo release, Petting Zoo, he gives us more than mere vanity. Petting Zoo is independent of spirit and free of self-indulgence. Bernstein’s album is part of a growing movement of pop music born of an acoustic musician’s experience in traditional genres. Bernstein, as bass player for San Francisco’s Ho’Down Quartet, helped produce a studio bluegrass album and a live Ho’down disc in 2005. In late 2005, Bernstein signed on with SF jam band, New Monsoon, and started touring nationally. During the few breaks from the road, Bernstein spent time in the Bay Area working on Petting Zoo with David Tweedie at Chocolate O’Brien studios. Petting Zoo opens with the textbook choice of a light and catchy acoustic pop song. “Flipside” sets the wistful tone for the album. Tone and songwriting are strengths of Petting Zoo and Bernstein really gets the groovy tone going on the opening cut. Electric guitar and organ round out the acoustic instrumentation to excellent effect. Bernstein’s Dead inflected vocals give the tune a nostalgic feel. The second cut, “What am I doing here?” takes another step toward psychedelia but still keeps a tight song form. The playing, mostly Bernstein with Tweedie on drums is great on the album and while the song writing is solid the lyrics have a limited range: from ennui to angst. The tone of the instrumentation is a lighter version of Dylan’s 1966 Albert Hall electric set. Sadly, Bernstein never cuts loose and rocks hard. Perhaps the incessant touring with mostly up-tempo New Monsoon pushed Bernstein toward the tempos he chose. Fortunately, the tight song forms, even on the instrumental cuts, keep the album from plodding. The album has a nice midsection with two tasty instrumental tracks that really highlight Ben’s tonal sensibilities. The melodies are ethereal but not wandering, and the rhythmic texture keeps the listeners attention without any harshness. "Puesta del Sol", in particular, has a beauty that is world class and nicely sets up the exit of the album. Bernstein’s duet with Toni Mattioli, "If" is a conversation with two mellowed out optimists. Ben and Toni share a moment in the song that makes it clear these are two musicians with some warm history together. Bernstein has not been a main vocalist in any of his gigging projects, but he does a great job of carrying the album’s vocals for the eight songs. His vocal affect is a good match for his almost apathetic lyrics, “Maybe I’m holding back… perhaps I’m just a fool.” In fact, when Toni Mattioli sings the duet, it seems that 2 years gigging with Mattioli’s Stolen Bibles was a formative time for Bernstein’s voice. Petting Zoo is a singer songwriter album, but with Bernstein’s playing, Tweedie’s production and Toni Mattioli joining in, the album leaps over stilted singer/songwriter irritations. Bernstein stretched himself and made a great album.
PETTING ZOO rocks... I love it. It's in my car for a long time now. Good work Benny!!
10/22/2006 2:29 PM Got your album a few weeks ago and it's been getting good airtime in our living room! ps-I saw a WANTED sign with your mug on it here in H-town...Look out next time you're here, you might get turned over to the authorities! :P