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"Album Review: BENYARO - THE COVER EP"

Ah, the covers album. Is there a more effective means of simultaneously delineating an artist’s influences and guaranteeing hand-to-hand album sales after a show? There’s no telling how many units have moved from the trunk of a self-sustain ing artist’s car to the floorboards of an impressed concert goer thanks to sweet renderings of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” New York City indie-soul duo Benyaro have come forth with an offering of their own, ingenuously titled The Cover EP. Songwriters Ben Musser and Bobby McCullough take few liberties in stripping down six tracks that pay homage to late greats like Etta James and Sam Cooke — alongside a tricky turn on Moby — into acoustic treatments that prove “soulful” can come in any number of shades. The sparsest of the bunch, opener “Bring It On Home to Me” is driven by the Hall/Oates-y chemistry between Musser and McCullough. They root Moby’s electro-soul hit “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad” into its most basic components: the alternating refrains and melodies, dubbed into faraway and approximate spaces. It sounds challenging, but the result is gorgeously simple. The EP’s best track is its take on the Coasters’ “What About Us,” where they highlight its intrinsic humor with more than enough call-and-response to move a few units. 74/100 - Yes! Weekly (Winston-Salem/Greensboro, NC) - (11/12)

"Good Day Sunshine - Benyaro"

If you’re a fan of The Band or their modern-day counterparts The Avett Brothers, there’s a good chance you’ll take a shine to Good Day Better, the sophomore release from Brooklyn’s acoustic folk/soul duo Benyaro. Guitarist Ben Musser and upright bassist Bobby McCullough share vocal duties as well as an amiable chemistry that places them more on the good-times side of the folkie spectrum. Despite the music’s rootsy vibe, Musser at times recalls David Bowie, particularly on the shambling pop of “Pisces,” which also features some of the album’s most lush harmonies. They’re at their best and most original on the title track — despite some unexpected meter shifts and more chords than some entire folk albums, the whole glorious mess still manages to sound like a happily drunken party anthem. - Nashville Scene "Critic's Picks" - Jacks Silverman - March 3, 2011

"Inspired Performers: Benyaro is ready when the muse comes knocking"

Opportunity may knock, but inspiration pretty much shows up whenever it wants to.

Because of that capricious nature, one must stand ready to receive the gifts of the Muse whenever they’re offered. At least that has been the experience of singer/songwriter Ben Musser, one-half of the power duo known as Benyaro.

“I’ve found that you have to be open to inspiration when it comes,” Musser said during a recent telephone interview. “I’ll be trying to go to sleep and some lines will start coming.

“It’s almost annoying, because I’ll have to get out of bed and go write it down. A lot of times I’ll be doing something that involves moving, like taking a walk, skiing or driving a car when a line for a song will pop into my head.

“There’s a song on our ‘Good Day Better’ album titled, ‘Time With Yourself.’ That particular line came to me while I was driving to a gig in Arizona. I carry a microcassette recorder with me, so when that happens, I can record it before it gets lost.”

Benyaro will be performing that song and many others Thursday evening at the Southern Cafe and Music Hall just off the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville. Headlining the bill will be Dangermuffin.

Both bands perform original, angst-free, nonpolitical songs that are simply intended to elevate one’s mood, get the toes tapping and maybe even make a person think a bit. Because Benyaro draws on many musical influences, it’s hard to say exactly what genre the duo fits into.

Benyaro’s music has been called indie acoustic soul, but it’s more convoluted than that. Add folk, country, rock, blues and gospel to the mix, and you can see why it’s often simply labeled American roots music.

“What we play is passionate, emotional acoustic music,” said Musser, whose mother lives in Charlottesville. “We try to give the audience an experience they have never heard or seen before.

“Something we frequently hear is that we sound bigger than a duo. We do try to get the most from our limbs and voices to put it all out there.

“We want to make people think, but my songwriting is not very political. I think there’s too much of that type stuff already out there. Our music will hopefully serve as an outlet for people to be introspective and think about themselves, their lives and the people they love.”

The big sound Benyaro produces doesn’t just come from Bobby McCullough’s standup bass and Musser’s guitar. Add the maraca fastened to Musser’s left foot and the sound of the hi-hat that McCullough taps with a foot.

“Drums were my first instrument before I made my way to the guitar and singing,” said Musser, who splits his time between living in New York City and Wilson, Wyo. “Before I met Bobby, I was working solo, and I thought I’d add a percussion element by fastening a shaker to my shoe.

“I also hit the heck out of my guitar. It has a big crack where I hit it, but I keep getting it repaired.

“When Bobby started playing with me I added a bass drum for my right foot, and he took the hi-hat. I don’t know of any band that’s doing exactly what we’re doing as far as playing as many instruments as we do.”

Enjoying the Benyaro experience is well worth the $8 cover charge. Add Dangermuffin, and it becomes an over-the-top bargain.

“We first heard Dangermuffin when we were on a bill together in Missoula, Montana,” Musser said. “We play with a lot of bands, and 19 out of 20 of them we don’t care to play with again.

“But these guys in Dangermuffin are heart and soul unique. I think everyone who comes to the show is really going to love them.”

Musser is very familiar with Charlottesville, and McCullough hails from Virginia Beach. But that’s not the only reason they’re looking forward to playing here.

“One of the reasons I’m very excited about the Charlottesville show is because I like the Southern, and what they’re doing,” Musser said. “They’re helping to fill a void by providing a venue for nationally touring acts such as ourselves and Dangermuffin that are in the medium range as far as being known goes.

“Because I do all the booking and promotion work, I know how important venues like the Southern are to groups like ours.”

Dangermuffin and Benyaro will be performing Thursday evening at the Southern Cafe and Music Hall. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Cover is $8. Tickets can be purchased at the door or at
- The Daily Progress - David A. Maurer - music writer - (2/4/11)


Benyaro is a roots-folk trio from Brooklyn that has paid their dues by playing subway platforms, touring relentlessly, self-releasing their debut album and slowly building a word-of-mouth following. At the core is Ben Musser, an Austin transplant with a unique soulful voice and an acoustic guitar. Musser’s sister, Meg Chamberlin, joined the band to lend vocals (think Caitlin Cary) and some percussion while Bobby McCullough plays upright bass. The band is currently recording their follow-up LP but plays a hometown gig at Southpaw on November 24th. Tickets are $10 at the door. Get a taste below. - Blackraptor blog - (11/16/09)

""Benyaro to perform tonight at Vinyl Perk""

I'm very eager about the music entertainment I've been seeing come through The Vinyl Perk. If you haven't picked up on this gem of a place, get over there and check it out. Benyaro is making their debut performance in the area - this might be a good opportunity to see a new place and see a new band.

I asked Ben Musser of Benyaro a few questions so we will know what to expect.

SLG: Describe your genre of music in as much detail as you like. Maybe list your three best crowd-pleasing songs? Can you explain in what way do you most appeal to your fans?

BM: Acoustic soul and roots music. Our crowd pleasing songs are "Feelin’ Low," "Cutting Words," and "Bullet-Like Belief."

Fans seem to be attracted to the emotion that comes through the vocals. They are also attracted to the amount of sound and music that comes from just two performers. We play nylon string guitar, upright bass, bass drum, hi-hat, shaker, harmonica, tambourine, and sing with two voices, all at the same time. Lastly, they enjoy the songs.

SLG: Who's in the band? And who's touring with you? How long has this line-up been together?

BM: On tour:
Ben Musser – lead vocals, nylon string and steel string guitars, bass drum, shaker, and harmonica
Bobby McCullough – harmony vocals, upright bass, hi-hat, and tambourine

Not on tour:
Meg (Musser) Chamberlin - harmony and lead vocals, percussion

Benyaro was born in 2005 with another bassist. Bobby joined me (Ben) and my sister in December of 2008. Meg and I have been performing for years together, but again, Benyaro came about in 2005.

SLG: Tell us where you're from and currently based in what town?

MG: Benyaro is out of New York, NY but has recently been spending more time in Jackson, WY.

SLG: Nice! Past shows or venues you'd like to brag about? Past or future shows in the Pocatello area?

Benyaro performed at the Avett Brothers (Concord, North Carolina) after-show at The Pageant in St. Louis, MO this past Thursday night. We had the openers, Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers, up on stage with us by the end of the show, to sing some tunes. It was a hoot.

We have also opened for legendary folk icon, Malcolm Holcombe in NYC, Boston, and Johnson City, TN.

We will be performing at the Portneuf Valley Brewery on August 1.

SLG: Super. I'll put it on the calendar. Describe this particular show at the Vinyl Perk. What can ppl expect if they come to this show?

BM: The show at Vinyl Perk should be an intimate one. We have never been, nor have we ever been to the wonderful town of Pocatello. If folks choose to come hear us, they’ll hear a unique style of acoustic music…acoustic soul. They’ll get a kick out of seeing us playing all these instruments at the same time and dig the full sound that comes from a duo. We are the only band on the bill that night.

The Vinyl Perk is a coffee house with a most impressive vinyl record collection. The business is open to all ages; music entertainment is free.

SLG: Any comments about the local live music scene, the music industry in general? What do you think is the best way to get your music out there?

BM: The music industry is hurting. I hope and think that independent artists and small labels are going to help to rebuild a music industry that focuses on the art itself and not just appealing to the masses. This will be better for the listener as they will and now have so many groups to choose from. It will be competitive for the artists, but hopefully the best music will rise to the top.

As far as getting one’s music out there; touring, playing subway platforms, street corners, using the many internet mediums to share one’s music, even giving away CDs. There are so many avenues.

SLG: Do you have any videos on YouTube?

SLG: Recordings? Will you have CD's or more for sale at the show?

BM: Benyaro (self-released debut album) – 9 tracks - #162 on the National CMJ Top 200 in February 2009. It will be available at the Vinyl Perk show and is available at

SLG: How can fans contact you? Myspace? or another website?

BM: Myspace is the best way. Facebook is also an option!
Posted by Lana at 10:19 PM
Labels: benyaro, interview, video - Slow Loose Gravel (Idaho/Utah) - Linda Alexander - Music Blogger - (7/09)

"Review of Benyaro's debut, "Benyaro""

"3 1/2 of 5 stars:

Benyaro is a Brooklyn acoustic folk-rock trio that meanders from Jack Johnson-balladry to the earthy vibes of Dave Matthews' mellow moods. They even throw a Doobie Brothers-like shuffle into their song "Humble Child."
Along with a songwriting boost from non-member Scott Claassen, the band's other not-so-secret weapon is the voice of multi-instrumentalist Ben Musser. With a pleading, quivering edge in his voice, like a world traveler unhinged by sights of great beauty and great horror, Musser sounds akin to a young Cat Stevens." - Daytona Beach News-Journal - Rick de Yampert - entertainment writer - 2/22/08


The upcoming studio album from this Brooklyn-based acoustic folk/rock/Americana act invites comparisons to the glory days of CSN&Y (mainly due to their heavenly vocal harmonies and laid back arrangements augmented by guest players), but their live show (as an acoustic guitar and upright bass duo) comes off as more standard-issue contemplative nouveau-folk-- albeit a strong example of the genre. - Connect Savannah - Jim Reed - music editor - (7/07)


"The members of Benyaro are veterans of the New York City underground scene - quite literally, having honed their skills in the subterranean tunnels of the city's subway system. Whether you call it "busking" or "begging," there's no doubt that any act would have to demonstrate something fairly unique to capture the attention of the hurried class, which is exactly what Benyaro did, drawing large crowds that eventually led to gigs that were much less dependent on public transportation. Added to the mix is the fact that Benyaro's music is the antithesis of the rush-hour scene. Relaxed, peaceful, and largely acoustic, benyaro sounds to be born less out of the smoggy subways and more out of the Smoky Mountains."
- Richmond Times-Dispatch - Ryan Muldoon - music writer - (2/7/08)

"Review of Benyaro's debut, "Benyaro""

I've never been drawn to anything bearing the label "easy listening." Generally conjures up images of Kenny G, or uncomfortable elevator silence shared with strangers. So when I popped Benyaro's eponymous debut cd into I-Tunes and saw "Easy Listening" listed nine times under the genre category, I was not hopeful.

Well, the label is a misnomer. The Brooklyn-based group led by Ben Musser (originally from Tennessee, in New York by way of Austin) starts off strong with a Jack Johnsonish "Bullet-Like Belief," and stays steady throughout, offering up a sophisticated blend of soul, folk and finely executed song craftsmanship, all the way through the mournful seven-minute anthem "Tear Down" that concludes the album. There is a lot of energy in the music, it could easily go electric. Musser's playing is finely textured, the songs are well composed, and his voice is a confident vehicle for generally uplifting, pensive lyrics.

The point here? Benyaro's Ben Musser will play at 8 p.m. the Metro Coffeehouse on Sunday, and I suspect it will be a solid show.

Check them out at

Let's let Ben fill us in on Benyaro's background. By way of a Q&A with the artist yesterday:

Q: I see you're calling from a 512 number. You from Austin?

Musser: "Yeah, I lived in Austin from 2002-2004. I was in a band down there called the Ghosts of Electricity. We had a rock outfit called the Minions, that was pretty much the same personnel.
"I had already started performing earlier, in Nashville. That's where I met Scott Claasen (who wrote a number of the songs on Benyaro's cd).
"The Ross Fourney joined us. He was a good friend of Scott's from boarding school in California.
"It wass pretty much acoustic music, kind of Latin folk. We were reeling from the influence of Buena Vista Social Club and Manu Chao, that sort of thing."

Q: Which, I might say, is very different from what you're doing now.

Musser: "That's true. I'm a fan of every genre in its original form. I'm not a fan of new bluegrass, jazz."

Q: You have a very textured sound. Are you fingerpicking on a lot of these songs?

Musser: "Yes, I do a lot of fingerpicking on the record. That's me trying to do something different as an artist. there aren't a lot of people doing classical guitar stuff, or playing fingerpicking with a steel-string guitar."

Musser and Tucker Yaro from the nucleus of the group, which also features Musser's sister, Meg Chamberlin. Tucker and Musser were a match made in Craigslist heaven. After Musser put an ad online for an upright bass player, he recieved a bevy of responses, but all from prospective bassists who wanted to play jazz, bluegrass, the genres that are standard for the instrument. So Musser added another, what he calls more "bitter" posting, bemoaning the lack of originality of the prospective upright bass players.

Musser: "and he said, I get what you're saying. And so then, we got to talking about where in the city each other lived...we turned out being three blocks away. so I said, 'are you kidding? What are you doin right now?'"

The two started playing on subway platforms in Brooklyn.
"Since we were acoustic, we were totally mobile. So we were just like, let's go make a couple dollars.
"Playing down there really builds up your courage and confidence. It's just a great thing to do. People would hear us on the subway and introduce themselves, say, 'hey listen, there's this open mic here,' give us their business cards or they'd take a flyer with our MySpace page."

Q: Favorite stop to play on?

Musser: "The Bedford L train stop (in Williamsburg). We would just walk over to the stop. It's convenient, because there's just one platform and people wait on stops (in both directions)."

- Savannah Morning News - Joel Weickgenant - music writer - (2/12/08)

"Review of Benyaro's self-titled debut"

We are continuously surprised by how often good music is created in this world despite it never being in the “Hits” or promoted in the media. We also ask ourselves what then is the motivation if the various artist. Sometimes it seems that with their songs, they find to “lay their egg” (the creative process) is more important than money or fame. In the press, the group Benyaro is compared to Peter, Paul and Mary and one of the main reasons is probably because the trio is comprised of two Men (Ben Musser and Tucker Yaro) and one woman (Meg Chamberlin). Actually Scott Claassen should also be catalogued as a member because he plays piano and organ on almost every song and claims title to song writer for five of the nine songs while Ben Musser can only claim to have written two. However his (Ben’s) amazing vocals are the calling card of Benyaro. These artists sing songs that are (zeemzoet???) sweet but wonderfully pretty and emotionally effective like “Bullet Like Belief” (Strong similarities to songs by Jack Johnson and Donovan Frankenreiter ) and “Time to Kill”. Acoustic roots folk songs with much feel for soul and emotion. The trio works out of Brooklyn NY at the beginning or a very promising career where in their unique sound will ensure that they will stand out from the mass of new musical talent in the music industry. I totally flipped for the heavenly song “Feelin’ Low” that I’ve already played at full volume about twenty times and in the mean time I have the lyrics pinned down. Only I am not successful at singing along. Maybe my vocals can’t approach the quality of the talented Ben Musser. Furthermore Benyaro also gladly lets Musser’ sister, Meg Chamberlin lend her voice in the song “Far Cry From Here” and she pulls it off well. This number is one of the two covers that Benyaro takes from the repertoire of Malcolm Holcombe, the other is “To the Homeland”. At the end of this record, we are then at song number 9- we get as a closer a musical epic in the form of a seven minute duration “Tear Down” where in the emotions of the listener fly around your ears and you have to be strong to keep your cool not to get dragged into all the misery. Nowhere on this record are electronic instruments detected and that is a relief. A comparison to Ray Lamontagne comes to mind when listening to the superb song “Humble Child”. One could do without the sing “Confessions”, though. Benyaro- the debut album of the group of the same name- will without hesitation become part of my private music collection and will often find its way back into my CD loading tray. I seriously need to consider building storage for all my new CD’s because, as I said before, these splendid albums keep coming. Nevertheless we are happy to recommend this splendid album to you.

-translation by Claire Petitt (dutch to english)

Original Text:
Het blijft ons steeds weer verbazen hoeveel goede muziek er in deze wereld gemaakt wordt zonder dat die ooit in de hitlijsten of zelfs in de mediabelangstelling verschijnt. We vragen ons dan ook af wat de drijfveer van die vele artiesten is. Het lijkt soms of ze het belangrijker vinden om hun ei kwijt te raken dan om geld of roem te vergaren met hun songs. In de pers wordt de formatie Benyaro vergeleken met Peter, Paul and Mary en één van de hoofdredenen zal wellicht zijn omdat we hier ook te maken hebben met een trio bestaande uit 2 mannen (Ben Musser en Tucker Yaro) en 1 dame (Meg Chamberlin). Eigenlijk is ook Scott Claassen als groepslid te katalogeren want hij zorgt voor piano en orgelgeluiden op haast elke song en hij neemt daarenboven ook vijf van de negen songs voor zijn rekening als songschrijver terwijl Ben Musser dat voor maar twee liedjes heeft gedaan. Maar diens wonderlijke stemgeluid is dan weer hét uithangbord van Benyaro. Zeemzoet maar heerlijk mooi en emotioneel doeltreffend zingt deze artiest songs als “Bullet Like Belief” (sterke gelijkenis met liedjes van Jack Johnson en Donovan Frankenreiter overigens) en “Time To Kill”, akoestische rootsfolksongs met heel veel gevoel voor soul en emotie. Het trio werkt vanuit Brooklyn, New York aan de uitbouw van een veelbelovende carrière waarin hun haast unieke sound er zeker zal voor zorgen dat ze gaan opvallen tussen de massa nieuwkomers aan het muziekfirmament. Ik ga helemaal overstag voor het hemelse liedje “Feelin’ Low” dat hier toch al ongeveer twintig keer keihard heeft gespeeld en dat ik ondertussen tekstueel volledig onder de knie heb. Alleen het meezingen lukt nog niet zo goed. Misschien is mijn stem toch niet van dezelfde kwaliteit als die waarmee Ben Musser begiftigd is. Toch laat Benyaro ook Mussers’ zusje Meg Chamberlin graag aan het woord in het liedje “Far Cry From Here” en ook zij brengt het er zeer goed van af. Dit nummer is één van de twee covers die Benyaro brengt van liedjes uit het repertoire van Malcolm Holcombe, het andere is “To The Homeland”. Op het einde van deze plaat - we zijn dan aan liedje nummer 9 - krijgen we als - Rootstime (Belgium/Netherlands) - Valère Sampermans - music critic - (5/08)

""Indie acoustic soul...""

"Indie acoustic soul..."
- Boulder Weekly - (7/08)

""The Big Deal""

Indie acoustic soul. That is how the band Benyaro is described. The name is a combination of band members Ben Musser and Tucker Yaro's names. The two Brooklyn residents met on Craig's List, an online classifieds site, and they first performed on the subway platforms of New York City. After drawing crowds and becoming a favorite of police officers in the subway, the duo knew they had something going for them. Musser's sister, Meg Chamberlin, joined the band to provide vocals and percussion, and the group now tours nationwide. Musser will perform solo today in Blacksburg, showcasing his part of the soulful acoustic phenomenon Benyaro has become. - The Roanoke Times - Amy Matzke - music writer - (9/08)

""Folk/Soul band Benyaro tears it up at Shorty’s""

In case y’all missed this (which is extremely unfortunate if you did), on Saturday, Nov. 14, New York City based power duo Benyaro truly put on an amazing performance in Shorty’s. With opening musicians Nolan Silverstein, class of 2011, and local band Nightworker (features lead singer from former Winston-Salem based band Terrance and the Tall Boys, Jacob Myrick), the entire night was full of great music thanks to the gracious hands of Wake Radio. And was very well attended.

Benyaro features guitar, harmonica and drum playing, whaling vocalist Ben Musser and upright bassist Bobby McCullough. Together just these two alone are able to gloriously fill an entire room full of warm, beautiful sound. Each song these guys perform has a soul to it that resonates all around the room — any spectator simply can’t help but give undivided attention. No joke.

Their most recent album, Good Day Better, has been a Wake Radio favorite since its release in April of this year (and it’s still getting tons of air play) and has charted with CMJ. They were also featured on Relix magazine’s Novemeber 2010 issue’s mixtape with their single “Dogs.” While “Dogs” is a great track, there really isn’t a bad song on the album — it’s actually pretty hard to distinguish which one is your favorite.

Seriously, give these guys a listen. Your ears will appreciate it very much. - Old Gold and Black (Wake Forest University Paper) - Caroline Edgeton - 11/10

""Make Your Good Day Better""

Splitting time between Jackson, Brooklyn and life on the road—Ben Musser of Benyaro is becoming more of a face in our music scene, and on the national radar.

Acoustic soul-pop and folk come to mind on Benyaro’s energetic sophomore release, Good Day Better, which displays Musser’s unabashed, emotive vocal flights and a strong chemistry with bassist and harmony vocalist Bobby McCullough. In the live setting, the duo infuses a percussive element with Musser on kick drum and McCullough handling high-hat. Concert at the Commons presents Benyaro at 4 p.m., Sunday in Teton Village at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Free. Opener TBA.

- Jackson Hole Weekly - Aaron Davis - music critic - (7/10)

""Catching Up With Benyaro""

Unsigned bands from Brooklyn are nothing new, but an unsigned band with a self-released album that’s cracked national charts and is just returning from a cross-country tour? That’s something.

The band in question, Benyaro, has a sweet, soulful sound and almost none of the qualities that make us afraid of acoustic groups featuring tambourine players. It’s also playing tonight at the NewSong Series in Bryant Park—a free, hometown show before the band heads back out on tour once again—that should definitely be on your calendar. We tracked down frontman Ben Musser in a rare moment of down time.

NYP: You’re just back from a nationwide tour. How was the band’s first experience playing outside of New York?

B: I’ve been touring solo as Benyaro for nearly three years. Bobby and my sister were able to join me for this past tour, which made a huge impact on the show and on the audience’s response. It feels like our fan base is solidifying down there, now that they’ve seen the whole package.

Down south, people are immediately receptive to our music. There’s an instant connection between the audience and us when we start to play. This is evident in their smiling faces. In New York, it takes some work to see some smiles.

NYP: Your self-released album cracked the CMJ Top 200. What made you decide to self-release the record and are you glad you went that route?

B: I don’t know that we really had a choice. I wanted to make our record after the producers I spoke with didn’t seem to get what I was after, sonically. Some of the best producers may have understood, but I don’t think Rick Rubin is ready to work with us just yet. Once we started down that independent path, it seemed to make sense to try promoting the record ourselves. I have spent a few years working in the music business, so it was a welcome challenge for me to see what we could do. I am proud that we are now spun on over 100 stations across the country. Of course, the most beautiful thing is that we actually own our record. I am happy we went that route.

Soon we will begin to record our next album. I plan on producing this one, again, but will take the finished product to some labels to hear what they have to say. If they say the right things, perhaps we will work with them.

NYP: How do you feel like you fit into the New York music scene?

B: I don’t feel like we fit in, which is perfect. So many people say to me “I hear you playing down south, not playing up here,” and I love it. I love it because we do play in the south and out west and, yes, people love our music there, but people also love us here. We are playing honest music and that resonates with everyone. It may be true that New Yorkers are more concerned about what is “cool” and therefore inclined to put up a front, as they do with most things they encounter, but they are smart. Once they see other folks are enjoying us and that we are doing this for the right reasons, they get on board.

People play music for a whole slew of reasons. Benyaro’s end is to bring unique, quality, pleasant music to people’s ears. Our focus is on great songs and great singing and performing. We don’t play a saw or a vintage banjo or need to dress in old time clothes to woo our audiences, and I think New York audiences respect us for being gimmick-free.

NYP: Where do you like to go see bands play? What’s your favorite venue to play at?

B: Rockwood Music Hall is a great little venue. The sound is incredible, the vocals come through and it has high quality acts. Cool bartenders, too. I enjoy Joe’s Pub, too. The talent buyers bring in unique acts. I hope Benyaro will be performing there this fall. Bowery Ballroom is a great medium-sized venue. I have seen some of my favorites come through there. Hammerstein Ballroom is kind of pretty.

We usually play at Rockwood. We love the way they treat us and our fans love the intimacy, the decor and the neighborhood. Plus it’s always free.

NYP: How does being a more soulful band affect Benyaro in the rock-heavy Brooklyn scene?

B: We feel unique. We are confident to be doing what we are doing in the midst of another scene. Rock has been dead for several years, in my ear, so it feels like we are selling gold and everyone around us is selling copper. That’s a good place to be. It seems like people are trying to re-live an era in Brooklyn, but we need to move music forward, not force it back to a place where it will never be again.

There is also a roots/singer/songwriter movement in Brooklyn, which is cool. We feel like we have our own real estate, though, because most of these singer/songwriters, though talented, don’t bring the soul and emotion to their music that we do. They also only play their music, which is cool in theory, but also egotistical. I believe there are many great songs already written. One of my best friends, Scott Claassen, writes beautiful songs, and Benyaro plays them.

NYP: What’s the best thing about being in a band in New - New York Press - Adam Rathe - Music Editor - (5/09)

"Review of Benyaro's debut, "Benyaro""

Brooklyn indie-acoustic duo Benyaro’s self-titled debut is what you’d call a strong example of the genre, but it’s a stretch to call it indicative of the Brooklyn music scene as a whole. While the free-wheeling, DIY ethos is alive and well in their hometown, Benyaro takes a more clearcut path in creating thoughtful acoustic music.

The arrangement is pretty simple, with Musser taking over most of the instrumentation and only upright bass provided by additional personnel. Many have been quick to compare the vocal harmonies between Musser and his various collaborators akin to that of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s early days, but the expressiveness lends itself much closer to that of the BoDeans. Musser’s voice is a strange amalgamation of Cat Stevens and Axl Rose, all quivery and emotive and gravely at once. The best indication of the latter comes on “Feelin’ Low,” where Musser throaty tenor dives right into the pseudo-scream without sacrificing a bit of clarity. Between the clear forcefulness of Meg Chamberlain and the strong conventionality of Bobby McCullough, his harmonic accompaniment often provides the perfect complement. The abruptness of opener “Bullet-Like Belief” belies the rest of the album’s modest pacing, but there’s plenty of variety still to be found on this solid debut. Benyaro will perform at the Garage on Thursday, October 15. - Yes! Weekly (Greensboro/Winston-Salem, NC) - Ryan Snyder - music editor - (10/09)

"Benyaro's "Good Day Better""

On Good Day Better, Brooklyn-based band Benyaro cranks out folk country anthems brimming with harmonica, stand-up bass and powerful piano chords. At times, the songs are so dramatic you can imagine the music all taking place with actors under a spotlight during an elaborate indie rock opera. That's not necessarily a good thing: "Mother Daughter," in particular, dives a little far into the affected, sing-songy theatrical realm, making my more cynical side cringe.

That said, it's also true that about three-quarters of the album emanates a striking, authentic grace. Singer Ben Musser studied music with North Carolina troubadour Malcolm Halcombe, and you can hear in his voice the same soulful, raspy confidence that makes Halcombe so appealing. Musser's sister, Meg Chamberlin, also sings on the album and her sweet, mischievous approach to "Put All My Money On You" makes it by far one of the album's best tracks. Lyrics on "Who Carried You" include lines about churchyards, liquor stores, clotheslines and Agatha Christie, patching together a fresh, engaging story. Other badass songs like the title track and "Dogs" make me feel like doing brave things. That's a good aspect to have on any album. - Missoula Independent - Erika Fredrickson - A&E editor - (8/10)

"Benyaro's "Good Day Better""

Ben Musser, Bobby McCullough and Meg Chamberlin deliver the folk gospel according to Benyaro, a crunchy granola, campfire hoot of a sound endowed with warm tunes and tight harmonies, launching instant sing-alongs. As their new album promises, makes a "Good Day Better." - Philadelphia Daily News - Jonathan Takiff - music writer - (6/10)

"RELIX - "On the Verge" - Benyaro - Indie acoustic soul power"

Benyaro laid the groundwork for its self-described "indie acousic soul" by busking on the subways abd is now opening for acts like The Avett Brothers. "Bobby's girlfriend approached me and said he'd just moved to New York," recalls lead singer Ben Musser of his co-leader, bassist Bobby McCullough. "She was kind of pimping him out and suggested I give him a call. We've playing together ever since." Benyaro's exploratory lyrics are based on real relationships, places and emotions. The group's soulful, honest songs explore such diverse styles as beat box sounds, "acoustic disco house," blues, soul and folk. "Good Day Better," Benyaro's latest record, strives to "keep the listener on their toes and expand the boundaries of what acoustic music is," says Musser. "We're more then just a pleasant group-we're trying to shake things up." - RELIX - Dana Sobel - Jan/Feb 2011

"Radio Reviews for "Good Day Better" (2010)"

"An incredibly warm album, enveloping the listener in nostalgic reminiscense, like everything that made early Tom Waits so good. Inflections of '60s country-rock, trip-hop, and broken-beat minimal techno combine in surprising ways."

- Robert Parker - music director, KBGA 89.9 FM - Missoula, MT (4/10)

"Sounds like early-period acoustic David Bowie but with an Americana twang."

- Bryan Skowera - WESU 88.1 FM - Middletown, CT (4/10)

"Benyaro's new album "Good Day Better" has the ability to do just that: put it on your car stereo, turn up the volume, roll down your windows, and it'll turn a mediocre day good, and a good day better. The band has that rare combination of comfy roots and fresh lyrics that make you want to listen closer. For an added treat, Benyaro's signature sound and strong vocals blend seamlessly with subtle shades of Doobie Bros., Neil Young, and Alison Krauss."

- David Ford - "Triad Arts Up Close" host - WFDD 88.5 FM - Winston-Salem, NC (10/10)

Good Day Better
grade: B

Brooklyn’s acoustic folk quartet Benyaro returns with Good Day Better, a strong collection of upbeat rootsy tunes. Ben Musser and Meg Chamberlin’s vocals drive the album forward behind a steady mix of some acoustic folk, blues and country influences. “Call off Forever” best demonstrates Benyaro’s blissful strumming and singing as Chamberlin sings, “Try to find yourself some soul brother / get on down and be someone”. That attitude though, when combined with some overly ambitious vocals from Musser, can get downright annoying, like in “Eureka”. It feels like the joyful vocals are just a bit too loud in more than a few songs—and that can get in the way of an otherwise solid album. If Benyaro could just turn down the vocal mix and sing some more sad songs, they could be on to greater heights. Good Day Better is still an overall enjoyable listen.

- Cole Stangler - "The Cosmic American Radio Music Hour" host - WGTB 92.3 FM - Washington, DC

"An acoustic trio from Brooklyn that sings folky country music that resembles the Avett Brothers."
- WKNC 88.1 FM - Raleigh, NC

"Vail Daily (6/09) - 7 Questions With Ben Musser of Benyaro"

VAIL, Colorado — Brooklyn-based band Benyaro — which comes to Vail Tuesday — drew some of its first crowds while playing on subway platforms in New York City. And though the occasional drunk would try and take off with his guitar case, band member Ben Musser (guitar, vocals, drums, harmonica) called the experience “exhilarating” and “great practice — (it) toughened us up for the occasional unfriendly crowd.”

Musser and Bobby McCullough on upright bass (Musser's sister, Meg Chamberlin, usually sings and plays percussion but couldn't make this show) will perform a free show at the Bully Ranch in Vail on Tuesday. The show is part of Benyaro's 47-day tour of the West.

VD: What was it like playing next to the subway? Any funny stories?

BM: Many stories ... I had to kick a drunk man as he tried to pull my guitar case away while we were playing. I don't think we stopped the song. I was nearly beaten up once, after blowing off some drunks who wanted me to play some crap. Luckily there are cops on the platform. There have been plenty of photos, dancing, folks who want/try to sing with us, and phone numbers.

VD: What brings you to Colorado on this tour? Have you performed in Vail or this area before?

BM: Coloradans appreciate the honesty and truth in our songs. They also love acoustic music. We are different than most acoustic music, though, and they are hip enough to receive and welcome something different. Coloradans seem to be adventurous by nature and are always looking for something new to try. Of course, we love to be in the state because of her beauty. There's nothing like having a day off here to hike, bike or swim.

We have never performed in Vail or on the Western Slope. We have performed in Denver, Boulder and Ft. Collins.

VD: Your voice sounds a little like Cat Stevens to me. Have you ever gotten that kind of comparison and who are you most often compared to?

MB: Yes, I have received comparisons to Cat Stevens. He is whom I am most often compared to. I was compared to him last night in West Virginia. I have also received several Axl Rose, Al Green and Prince comparisons lately, which is flattering.

Vail Daily: Tell me how you came up with your band name? It seems like a scary proposition to pick one name that will stay with you for hopefully a very long time, I mean what if you pick a name you end up hating a year later?

Ben Musser: My brother-in-law came up with it while I was playing with a guy named Yaro. I Googled it, and nothing came up, which is perfect. Yaro has since passed the torch to Bobby, but the name will remain the same.

If you pick a name you end up hating, maybe you should let your spouse name your children.

VD: What's on your iPod right now that you can't get enough of?

MB: I generally enjoy music of the past with the exception of the Avett Brothers. Besides them it's been Billie Holiday, Etta James, Hank Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, JJ Cale, The Buena Vista Social Club and Beethoven that I've been spinning.

VD: I really like your song “Time to Kill,” probably because it starts with “she had a home in Colorado, down where the sandstone meets the clay.” What inspired that song?

MB: I will have to check with my good friends who wrote it. When this song was penned in Austin, Tex., I was the drummer. When I started Benyaro in NYC, I brought it back to life. It seems to me it's about a woman from the west.

VD: Your sister, Meg Chamberlin, is the percussionist and backup singer in the band. Tell me what it's like having a family member in the band. Do you guys bicker?

MB: Meg and I have grown closer through music. We have had some great times and experiences out on the road together, and with Bobby, our bassist. We definitely bicker, all of us, but it usually ends in a laugh.

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or - Caramie Schnell - High Life Editor

"Americana UK (1/08)"

"Soft folky pop that grows on you.

A trio from Brooklyn, Benyaro (consisting of Ben Musser and Tucker Yaro (geddit) accompanied by Ben’s sister Meg Chamberlin) play attractive, acoustic based songs that hark back to seventies soft country rock times.
With Musser playing a variety of instruments (included some nice harmonica on Long Shot) the sound is varied and their harmonies are reminiscent of the likes of Poco. They cover two songs by Malcolm Holcombe but the standout song is the closer “Tear Down” written by Scott Claassen (who plays keyboards here). With rippling guitars over swelling organ the song attains an anthemic quality over its six minutes building up a feel good quality that allows one to listen to the hidden track of kids singing their alphabet to a spooky disembodied guitar."
- Benyaro CD Review by Paul Kerr - music critic

"Missoula Independent (7/08) - Benyaro"

New York City's Benyaro play the kind of introspective, deeply emotional acoustic music that fans of the form should swoon over. The harmonies are crystalline, the playing flawless, and the songs tight. In short, it's an impeccable recording.

For me, that's the problem. There's no questioning the talent here. It's just that I got excited by their background story, how Ben Musser and Tucker Yaro met via a Craig's List ad, recruited Musser's sister Meg for harmonic input, honed their craft and built a following busking the NYC subway system, then self-recorded and released this, their debut record. I'm no fan of lo-fi for lo-fi's sake, but I expected a little more grit and a lot less polish.

Other reviewers liberally apply labels like "folk" and "Americana" to the record. I wouldn't file this CD under either category. I like my folk a little more belligerent, whether it's Dylan plugging electric or Ani seeming as likely to give you a black eye as a bowl of soup. As for Americana, this is more Laurel Canyon than the Appalachians, a sort of Crosby, Stills and Nash minus the irascibility of Neil Young.
(Chris La Tray)
- Chris La Tray - music critic


-The Cover EP, 2012
-Good Day Better, 2010
-Benyaro, 2008



Benyaro is the indie-acoustic soul, roots and folk power duo out of New York City and Jackson Hole, WY who've drawn comparisons to The Band, The Avett Brothers, acoustic David Bowie and Cat Stevens in RELIX magazine and Nashville SCENE, among others.

For VIDEO, PHOTOS and more MUSIC, please head to:

In 2012, Benyaro released THE COVER EP which has been charting on CMJ, AAA and Americana stations across the country (WNCW, KRVX, WKDU, KDHX, full list below) since July and earning multiple spins on ACOUSTIC CAFE (of Ann Arbor, MI & synicated to 90+ radio stations, weekly), and numerous AAA / CMJ / Americana radio stations and podcasts across the country for their acoustic covers of ETTA JAMES, MOBY, SAM COOKE and others. Also in 2012, Benyaro performed 4 showcases at SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL, 5 unofficial showcases at SXSW, at BIG SKY BIG GRASS and toured extensively in the west (San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Denver 2xs each) and in the east (St. Louis, Nashville, Charleston, NYC, Philly and DC). Their original music has been featured on TV (The Golf Channel) this November in a series called "Our Longest Drive" ( An independent film of same name and style has also been cut and features Benyaro's music. Benyaro SUPPORTED NICKI BLUHM & THE GRAMBLERS (3 times), LANGHORNE SLIM, JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD, and ROBERT RANDOLPH & THE FAMILY BAND across the Rockies and Northern CA this summer. Benyaro will support The Infamous Stringdusters twice this February and has been offered 5 tentative dates with SHOVELS & ROPE this spring.

In 2011, Benyaro supported Anders Osborne twice, The Stone Foxes twice, Dangermuffin 3xs, Abigail Washburn and Kai Welch, Shovels and Rope, Tony Furtado, Sahara Smith, The Farewell Drifters, Reed Foehl, Monophonics and closed for Brett Dennen. In the past 2 years they have shared the stage with The Avett Brothers, Jill Andrews, Samantha Crain, Gregory Alan Isakov, Danielle ate the Sandwich, Malcolm Holcombe, Michael Daves and many other great acts.

What radio is saying about Benyaro's THE COVER EP (2012)...

"The Cover EP is like an archeological expedition where Benyaro unearths the bones of our musical past, both well-known and forgotten, bringing them back to light in their most essential form. The duo not only does justice to these songs, but also gives them new life."

-Joe Kendrick, WNCW 88.7 FM (Spindale/Boone/Charlotte, NC)

"Bold acoustic arrangements of familiar (& not so familiar) tunes done with such panache it makes you re-think the originals."

-Gary Dickerson, WRFL 88.1 FM (Lexington, KY)

"Soulful and inventive interpretations of some of the greatest songs ever written! Whether it's Sam Cooke or Moby, Benyaro brings their unique spin to their versions on THE COVER EP "

-Rob Reinhardt, Acoustic Cafe producer (Ann Arbor, MI)

“Benyaro’s new COVER EP delivers an interesting selection of songs with a distinct sound of clarity, soul and passion.”

-Grady Kirkpatrick, Wyoming Public Radio

"On THE COVER EP, Benyaro masterfully recreates six momentous songs, each invigorated by the band's vocal and musical style. While keeping the mood of the originals, Benyaro also put themselves forward, making this one of the most successful cover albums of the year."

Chenoa Roseberry, Somewhere in Texas Radio - KISU 91.1 FM (Pocatello, ID)

List of stations reporting spins of THE COVER EP since July 2012

Acoustic Cafe - Ann Arbor, MI (syndicated to 90+ stations each week) -
CHMR - St. John's, Canada -
KAFM - Grand Junction, CO -
KAOS - Olympia, WA -
KBRP - Bisbee, AZ -
KDHX - St. Louis, MO -
KHOL - Jackson, WY -
KMHD2 - Gresham, OR -
KMTN - Jackson, WY -
KNOM - Nome, AK -
KOPN - Columbia, MO -
KRCB - Rohnert Park, CA (Freight Train Boogie) -
KRVB - Boise, ID -
KRVX - Austin, TX -
KRZA - Alamosa, CO -
KUWJ - WY Public radio (across WY) -
KWCR - Ogden, UT -
KWMR - Pt. Reyes Station, CA -
KZMU - Moab, UT -
NVWR - Reno, NV -
RLC - Piscataway, NJ -
WBWC - Berea, OH -
WERU -2 - East Orland, ME -
WGLS - Glassboro, NJ -
WKDU - Philadelphia, PA -
WMNF - Tampa, FL -
WMUA - Amherst, MA - no website
WNCW - Spindale, NC -
WRFL -1 - Lexington, KY -
WRKC - Wilkes-Barre, PA -
WTCC - Springfield, MA -

RELIX magazine features Benyaro as an "On the Verge" artist in their Jan/Feb 20