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Phil Bensen

By Gary Wien


The crowd always got a little quieter and paid more attention to the stage every time they heard Phil Bensen's voice project from the Stone Pony's stage. He was a regular at the club's open mic night and he never failed to disappoint. Mixing originals with classics from Marvin Gaye and the Tempations, Bensen created quite a stir with a booming, Motown-influenced voice. It was something the Jersey Shore hadn't heard in a while.

"People have come up to me and said, 'I can't believe you pulled it off,'" said Phil Bensen. "You're the first whie boy I've seen pull that off."

Bensen recently released his first CD entitled "Airbrushed Memories" and will be setting up shows throughout the area. He hopes to get shows in New Jersey, New York City, Philly and in his old college town of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. When people see him live they are bound to remember that voice. It's got the timeless quality that the best Motown songs have; hearing it just seems to take you back to memories long since forgotten. Bensen recognizes that his voice will be what takes him places, but wants to make sure he's viewed as a complete songwriter as well.

"I'm trying to get into the zone now where I'm making the songs that I write fit my voice better so I can showcase my voice better," explained Bensen. "Lyrically, when people hear you live they don't really listen to the lyrics very much. Its more of the melody and the voice that they hear. And then when they have the CD in their car they listen to the lyrics. When I write, I definitely don't compromise lyrics. I've always wanted to write the best songs as possible."

Bensen hasn't been playing that long. The 23 year-old singer-songwriter only really started playing live while attending college. Music, it seems, was simply in his genes. His grandfather was a child star in Norway who used to sing for the King. Bensen's father was a musician as well.

"Everyone on my father's side has powerful voices," said Bensen. "I really got into writing songs when I heard John Mayer play. I was like, 'Where is he getting these sounds from an acoustic guitar?' And I just tried to learn as many chords as possible. Vocally, I've always loved Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder and newer guys like Gavin DeGraw and Jason Mraz. I just want to always get that smooth but powerful and believability when I sing."

Bensen grew up in Hazlet, New Jersey wanting to be a soccer player. That was his passion throughout his childhood. Music took over when he saw the emergence of the singer-songwriter scene. "I saw them and thought that could be me singing and playing guitar on stage."

You can catch Phil Bensen live at the Bitter End on June 5th and at the Indigo Coffeehouse on June 11th. Vist www.philbensen.com for more info.



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State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze on Friday, December 7 at 8:00pm, Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday, December 9 at 2:00pm. Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a division of Cirque du Soleil, has become a critically acclaimed, state-of-the-art Broadway musical, and a fun-filled, holiday family show. Tickets range from $35-$98.
NJSO presents 2019 Winter Festival, 'Music Speaks'
(NEWARK, NJ) -- A trio of renowned guest artists with distinct musical voices—pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov and soprano Dawn Upshaw—headline the NJSO’s Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” in January 2019. The Orchestra’s signature artistic event takes place across three weekends, January 10–27, in six New Jersey venues.
RVCC Chorale to Perform Annual Holiday Concert on December 8th
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) --The RVCC Chorale will give its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 8 at 8:00pm in the Welpe Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus. The program will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, as well as a cappella pieces from by Sergei Rachmaninov, Zoltan Kodaly and Giuseppe Verdi. The program also will include an audience singalong of traditional carols.
Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show Comes To SOPAC
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- The Rolling Stones, the greatest Blues band of all time, couldn’t make it to SOPAC on their 2018 tour. Instead, the acclaimed tribute band Classic Stones Live! makes an appearance on the SOPAC stage December 15 at 8:00pm for those who like to hear their Rolling Stones hits live.
Tony Trischka Presents "Of a Winter's Night" at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Of a Winter’s Night is Tony Trischka's acoustic celebration of the holiday season. Based on his CD release of the same name, this concert features Trischka’s considerable melodic inventiveness on a wide variety of seasonal tunes. He turns his inventiveness loose on bluegrass and Americana music for the holidays. This one of a kind concert will take place at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30pm.


"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre
In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.
Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.
Sha Na Na LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
The audience is streaming into the Newton Theatre auditorium in Newton, NJ this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 for a live concert starring Sha Na Na!










Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


MUSIC

New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


THEATRE

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm







DANCE

PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


FILM

Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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