Photo courtesy of Ben Cesare Music
It’s been some time since we last talked with Ben Cesare and he’s been a busy guy! Just like the rest of us, he’s temporarily on hold with some things due to the COVID-19 crisis, but he’s finding ways to chug along on others. The best news is he and his wife are staying healthy and we’re all hoping it stays that way for them.
Cesare’s latest single, “The Wrong Place” (Cesare, Sherrié Austin, Will Rambeaux), is something he’s happy to tell people about and he’s hoping everyone will give the song a listen. In fact, he’s so interested in what our Think Country followers think of the song, he’s asking for some direct feedback. If you check out the song, send Cesare a message on one of his social media sites (listed below) and let him know what you think. Please be respectful with your comments. “As long as nobody trolls me,” Cesare said, “I would like to hear some thoughtful feedback on the song.” So, during this quarantine time, why not listen to a new song and chime in with your thoughts directly to the artist?
Once we move past the COVID-19 situation, Cesare has new music he’s excited to release. He recently recorded four new songs, and he has one in particular he’s pretty stoked about getting out. All the songs have yet to be mixed and mastered, but that will happen as soon as we get the green light to return to our normal lives. He gave me a little lowdown on one track he’s ready for everyone to hear. “It’s a song I wrote with Johnny Gwynne called, ‘No Way Jose’ and it’s loosely based on my experience with tequila. Just before my finals in college, my acapella group bought me a big bottle of Jose Cuervo tequila. Now, don’t get me wrong, I shared, but I drank most of it. Let’s just say, I don’t drink tequila anymore. I personified tequila as one of those friends in your circle that you keep around because they’re your friend, and they do mean well, but they can get you into trouble, just like alcohol. You can have a good time with alcohol, but a lot of crappy stuff can happen.”
Cesare went on to explain that “No Way Jose” has a bit of a Latin flavor as well. “Kind of like the Brooks & Dunn song, ‘My Heart Is Lost To You’, which I love. It’s a fun song and hopefully people will kind of be able to chant during the chorus. I’m really pumped about it. Stay tuned. I plan to release two of the four new songs this year.”
On Cesare’s last tour he did something really cool. He visited local animal shelters in the cities he was gigging in and went live on Instagram. His followers were able to see the adoptable animals in those shelters. If they saw an animal they were interested in, they could then make the decision to travel to one of those cities to check out the animal. Sometimes we’re looking for a new pet and we just don’t connect with the right one in our own town, but maybe, that new furry family member is one state away just waiting for us to find them. I thought that was a great idea. Cesare said it was really rewarding and he had a fun story about one special dog he met at a shelter. “My wife and I fell in love with this border collie who had just been surrendered. I was playing to the faculty of this particular shelter and as I was singing, she was howling along with me. She was my backup singer.” (Link to the video of this performance below. It’s a must watch!)
During this time when there are no venue shows, Cesare hasn’t stopped performing or doing charitable work. Every Sunday, he does a live stream on both Instagram and Facebook called, Brunch With Ben. The show airs every Sunday at 12:00 PM Central Time and spotlights a different charitable organization. Cesare explained how it works. “Right now, I’m not struggling with making my bills, so instead of pocketing the virtual tip jar, I’m donating it to a different organization. Last week I ended up with $400.00 in the tip jar, and I’ll be donating that to the Community Center of Middle Tennessee to help victims of the Nashville tornado. I can only imagine what they’re going through right now. Hopefully that will help feed the mouths of a few families and buy some diapers and formula for people who need it. This past Sunday, I did it for the Nashville Humane Society for displaced pets affected by the tornado, as well as shelter animals. Next week, it will be for Puppy Up, a charity that’s kind of struggling right now. They’re an organization that helps with research for both human and canine cancer. I hate cancer and I love animals, so I really want to help them out. I do this show every Sunday. I play originals and covers. I take requests, and if I know it, I’ll do it, but all I ask is please send a generous donation if you request a song.”
Since we last talked with Cesare, he’s upped his game when it comes to collaborating. He’s doing more co-writing and meeting more people. Two of his favorite new co-writers are David Ross and Steve O’Brien. He met O’Brien at a networking event last Christmas and then, in turn, O’Brien introduced him to Ross. Cesare said one of his biggest issues was introducing himself to people and making inquiries about working together. He said he’s happy to say he’s getting better at that all the time.
As we all find ourselves living in a very different world right now, I asked Ben Cesare how he’s dealing with life in lockdown and what advice he has for others so we can all, hopefully, come out the other side physically and mentally together. He had some good things to say. “Years ago I wrote a song for an old project called, ‘Just Get Through It’. The origin of that is I was a shy kid. I was bullied through most of my academic years and there was a time when I wanted to give up, when I couldn’t take it anymore, but then there was this little voice in the back of my head that was like, ‘Just get through it. It’s only four years. After those four years, you’ll never have to be around those people again.’ Whereas now, we’re in this quarantine, it’s just, let’s get through it. If you’re feeling cramped and you’ve got cabin fever going on, I’d say with precaution, see, I’m a nerd, my wife and I, we play Pokémon Go. That’s our way of getting out of the house without endangering ourselves. We stay in the truck and I go like, two miles an hour around Centennial Park. We play the game. I have a mount in my truck so I’m safely driving. I’m not endangering myself or my wife. Just find ways to entertain yourself. Make good use of your Facetime, your Zoom and your two-way communications. Don’t isolate yourself. This is crazy. A modern day plague. It’s ridiculous. It’s nuts. Just wash your hands. Stay home and only go out if you have a doctor’s appointment or to grocery shop. If you go out wear a mask. Do the right things and if you do, we’ll all get through it.”
He continued, “I’m a nice guy, but I’m an introvert at heart, so I do like my alone time, but even I need human interaction, so this disease has sucked for a lot of people. My wife is the complete opposite of me. She is Miss Life of the Party. She is Miss Social Butterfly. She craves that interaction with other people. She likes to throw little get-togethers. She and her girlfriends are starting a book club. They’re doing their thing trying to make the best of it. Some people are struggling. Just be there for each other. For example, there’s a local business in town called Daddy’s Dogs. I love Daddy’s Dogs. The guy, Sean Porter, he’s a big fellow with a long beard. His face is the cartoon logo of the company. I recently saw on Instagram that if there are any musicians out there who are struggling to pay their bills because doing music is their full time gig, he’s willing to give them a free meal, giving them free hot dogs. Just do what you can. Help your friends out if you can. If you have the means to help other people, do it.” I couldn’t agree more. When times get tough, all we have is each other. Cesare and Sean Porter have the right idea. These are seriously strange times and nobody is immune to having a bad situation right now.
Photo courtesy of Edible Nashville
In order to offer some hope to those who might be feeling a little down, I asked Cesare what five artists he would put on a playlist simply entitled “Hope”. I told him they didn’t need to be in the country genre. He gave me five very diverse artists and his reasons varied. Some had hopeful songs, some had inspirational real-life stories of their own on why you should never give up no matter how bad things are. I thought the choices were really quite good. He picked Bruce Springsteen, Chris Stapleton, Lady Gaga, Lizzo and Johnny Cash. If you really sit down and think about those five artists, and you may have to Google them and learn a bit about them to understand their background, you may agree.
We had about a minute left so I had my granddaughter pull a random card from my Chat Pack box and read it to Cesare. The question was, if you could time travel back to the year 1850, and bring one of today’s modern inventions to impress your forebears, what would you take? Cesare said he wouldn’t take his iPhone because there wouldn’t be any internet or electricity. He was thinking logically. He decided on a pocket knife. “I think a pocket knife would impress people back in 1850 because back then people used animals for more than just meat. They used animals to clothe themselves, they used the pelts. A good sized pocket knife that could fit in the palm of your hand with many different functions like a bottle opener, a really long dagger or a really long knife, I think that would really impress people from 1850.”
My smart-as-a-whip nine-year-old granddaughter, Abby then had to pipe in, “Like a Swiss army knife.” If it weren’t for the usual friendly goodbyes she would have had the last word because she was right.
I hope, as was mentioned earlier, you’ll give Ben Cesare’s new song, “The Wrong Place” a listen and let him know what you think. He’s opened the door to your thoughts. Be nice and be respectful. He can be reached at any of the social media sites linked below. Look for him every Sunday on Facebook and Instagram Live at 12:00 PM Central Time for Brunch With Ben as well. Keep up with him on social media for updates on new music too. If you connect, tell him Think Country sent you!
Video courtesy of Ben Cesare Music and YouTube
Ben Cesare Website: https://www.bencesaremusic.com/
*Featured photo courtesy of Ben Cesare Music