Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Brother, sister and the bass man

Sibling team to deliver fresh music to Frederick’s coffee crowd

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Photo courtesy of Benyaro
Brother and sister act Ben Musser and Meg Chamberlin, with bass player Tucker Yaro (not pictured), are the New York-based folk band Benyaro.
After a true underground start, the acoustic folk-pop group Benyaro has come out of the New York subways to find success on stages across the East Coast.

‘‘We drew some big crowds down there on the platforms and the cops even had to move people sometimes,” said band leader and founder Ben Musser.

The trio, including Musser, his sister Meg Chamberlin, and upright bass player Tucker Yaro, has been playing together since the spring of 2006.

The band will visit the Frederick Coffee Co. at 8 p.m. Friday to promote their new self-titled and self-produced album just released a few months ago.

A regular at coffee shops and small venues throughout the region, Musser said he’s previously performed at the East Street venue known for its intimate atmosphere and good coffee.

‘‘I liked it a lot – it’s very quaint and a cool little coffee shop,” the musician said.

Since the band’s members each have different jobs, the trio takes on many forms throughout a tour. For this show, Musser will be joined on stage by Chamberlin only. Sometimes, he plays gigs alone, he said.

Growing up in a musical family, the siblings had always planned on performing together one day, but Chamberlin waited to join until the band was well underway. A wife and mother of two, she had to wait until the time was right to give up some of her free time for her dream of playing music.

‘‘We always have fun playing together,” Musser said.

In fact, the siblings formed many bands throughout their high school years, splitting up once they graduated and went off to college.

A native of Pennsylvania, Musser eventually made his way to Austin, Texas with another musical friend to try to crack the music industry.

He came back to the East Coast and settled in New York in 2005. Trying unsuccessfully to find a bass player to join him in a small band, Musser said he got frustrated and posted a sarcastic ad on the popular website Craigslist one day.

Then he got an answer.

‘‘Tucker wrote this funny response and we ended up talking to each other that day,” Musser said.

In an odd twist of fate, the bass player was just four blocks away at the time and immediately available for a jam fest.

‘‘There was a match there right away — for friendship and musically,” said Musser, who plays guitar and sings for the group.

With no venues lined up, the duo hit the underground subway platforms to gauge audience reaction and drum up support. Eventually, they caught the ears of promoters and bookers who got them into clubs.

Once Chamberlin joined with her vocals, the trio was underway, soon recording their first CD and booking gigs across the country.

‘‘It makes it fun to play in different venues and I like to play anywhere as long as they have a sound system,” Musser said.

Calling theirs a folk pop sound heavily influenced by the late 1960s and early 1970s, the trio writes songs with themes of idealism, mountains and stars, and a latent spirituality, according to one reviewer.

Former music pal Scott Claasen also writes for the group, sometimes appearing on stage with them, Musser said.

The musicians also draw on their network and bring other guests to play on various venues as they travel throughout the country, keeping their sound fresh and alive.

This tour will be six weeks long and take the group throughout the East Coast as they promote their new album.

‘‘We’ve been getting a lot of good attention from it,” Musser said.


When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Frederick Coffee Company, 100 N. East Street, Frederick

Tickets: Free