Quick Q and A with Ari Hest

Ari Hest is an artist with a great deal of musical integrity. He is a hard-working touring musician who usually plays in the vicinity of 150 live shows a year. Ari dabbles in a variety of different musical projects and is able to quench his thirst for new and different sounds and vibes.  Ari’s soulful voice coupled with his compelling lyrics and memorably melodies make for an outstanding live experience.

Learn more about Ari at his website.

As an added treat, here’s a video of Ari and Judy Collins singing “Helplessly Hoping”

Ari Hest will be appearing at the me&thee coffeehouse in Marblehead, MA on September 15, 2017.

Since the last time you played at the me&thee, you’ve been nominated for a Grammy Award for Silver Skies Blue, your duets album with Judy Collins.  How awesome was that?  How did you get the news?

I was humbled to hear of the Grammy nomination. It really didn’t cross my mind and hasn’t for any album I’ve made. Judy’s manager reached out to let me know, and my wife and I drank a bottle of wine to celebrate. We were able to go out to LA for the awards, and it was a thrill to meet and talk to so many musicians I respect that I hadn’t gotten a chance to in the past.

Tell us a little bit about your alliance with Judy Collins.  You’ve been opening shows for her for a while now.  Obviously the two of you clicked! What’s it like working with a musical legend?

Judy Collins has been wonderful to me right from the beginning. I happened to be on the bill for a festival she headlined back in 2012, and she asked me to open a show for her after seeing me play that night. One show turned into a lot more, and obviously making Silver Skies Blue was an amazing experience, so I have nothing but great things to say about Judy. She works very hard, loves what she does, and has been more than generous to me.

Besides working with Judy and having your own solo career, you are also parts of two other musical projects—the Birds of Paradise and the Open Sea.  What kind of music do you play with them that you can’t or don’t do solo?

I like to have a variety of musical projects going that I can turn attention to at different times. It has kept all the projects fresh, and allowed me to write and play in a bunch of different styles. Bluebirds of Paradise, in particular, is challenging in all the right ways. The musicians in the band make me play better and I love the songs I’ve written with Chrissi Poland for that band. Sometimes in my solo shows I’ll play a song or two from other bands I play in so that folks can get a taste of what else I’m up to.

 What can you tell us about your newest album, Natural?  What was it like recording it?  Did you have specific ideas about what you wanted the album to sound like before you even went into the studio?

Natural is my 9th solo album. Musically I wanted to put strings behind most of the material as the main backdrop to my voice. I actually think this album is less produced-sounding than others of mine, but everyone hears music differently. I feel heavily invested personally in the material and I feel like the recordings sound as I wanted them – vulnerable and confident at the same time.

Digging around YouTube, I discovered an amazing video from several years ago in which a music instructor at a university in Germany organized an event where he arranged many of your songs and had his school orchestra play behind you in concert.  Were you overwhelmed by the love and passion for your songs as displayed by this group of people an ocean away?

In 2010 I went to Kassel, Germany to perform at a university where the students backed me. I loved having such a wide musical range behind me. There were several rehearsals the days before and the night turned out to be a lot of fun. I hope I get the chance to do that kind of thing again sometime.

There’s also a video of you and Chrissi Poland doing a songwriting workshop.  Is that a rewarding way to get in touch with younger audiences and perhaps have some of their unique ideas rub off on you so that it’s more of a songwriter to songwriter situation than a teacher and a student situation?

Chrissi and I have taught songwriting and arranging both together and separately throughout the last few years at many colleges. It is great to see the students eyes light up when something we say really clicks with them.

I also taught math in a school in New York for a little while and loved the environment, so teaching songwriting, though much different than teaching math, is something I knew I’d enjoy.


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