On a break from a world tour, Benjamin Jaffe will join old friends at The Egremont Barn | Berkshire landscapes

His image, likeness and voice were featured in the animated series “SpongeBob SquarePants” in 2006. (In this one, he played in a boy band. Technically, since the show takes place on the floor of Pacific Ocean, he starred in a boy –fish bandaged.)

With a musician friend, he is known for wearing a long, curly white wig and appearing on the streets of Los Angeles and elsewhere as “The Bachstreet Boyz”, playing songs such as “Invention no. 11 in G minor” replacing violin concertos with guitar concertos.

But seriously, Jaffe, 36, was an all-state batsman before graduating in 2003 from Mount Greylock Regional School in Williamstown. And seriously, he was part of the critically acclaimed, globe-trotting dynamic musical duo known as Honeyhoney. At its peak, most of Honeyhoney’s major live shows had around 700 attendees. So what the hell was Jaffe doing on stage in front of 20,000 flute-playing people? The Benjamin Jaffe known in the Berkshires, the Benjamin Jaffe known in his adopted city of Los Angeles, he doesn’t even play woodwinds.

He can explain. Just give him a moment to get his bearings.

He’s back in town for a while, visiting his parents, Marc and Vivian Jaffe, of Williamstown, and getting ready (sort of) for a gig at The Egremont Barn. He will play Thursday, March 10, starting at 7:30 p.m., with his local musical buddies Asher Putnam (of Bela’s Bartok), Asher’s brother Jesse and Putnams patriarch Robert (of BTU and many other bands).

The evening is billed as “Putnam vs. Jaffe”.

Ben Jaffe as part of Honeyhoney

Benjamin Jaffe, seen here playing as part of the musical duo Honeyhoney, is now part of the touring band supporting outlaw pop-country star and Grammy Award winner Kacey Musgraves.

It is very unlikely that Jaffe plays the flute in Egremont. It is very likely that he will play the guitar, perhaps the piano, and sing several of his own compositions.

Benjamin Jaffe’s songs (you can find them on Spotify) are aural postcards, with vivid images of emotional damage and repair. Graceful, burning, poetic and playful, they are pronounced in a voice that can climb the doors of the temple with a tender falsetto.

It’s that voice that landed him the gig on that stage in Atlanta – and at recent sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden, Boston’s TD Garden, the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and in arenas across the country. . And on “Saturday Night Live”, too, last October.

Indeed, in an unusual turn in an unusual life, Jaffe last year accepted an invitation to join the touring band that backs Grammy Award-winning outlaw pop-country star Kacey Musgraves. . For the tour, Musgrave chose musicians from Los Angeles, many of whom Jaffe has known for years.

It accompanies vocals and guitar. And, because he’s Benjamin Jaffe and loves a musical challenge, he took it upon himself to learn, note for note, the jazz flute solo originally performed in the studio by the session veteran. Nashville, Jim Hoke.

The solo provides the climactic and cathartic moment of Musgraves’ anthemic song “There’s a Light”, the penultimate track from his latest album, “Star-Crossed”. The song was inspired by Musgraves’ marital breakup with singer Ruston Kelly. She let it be known that the song and her flute solo meant a lot to her.

In fact, “There’s a Light” provides the climactic moment of the live broadcast. That’s when the laser lights go crazy and showers of confetti fall from the rafters. And, yes, in Atlanta on February 9, things turned sour. First, Jaffe inhaled confetti, then, in his attempt to turn away from the bursts of confetti, he was hit in the mouth by the head of Tarron Crayton’s bass guitar.

Jaffe quickly recovered and started playing the instrument he never played until last September when he rented one for $25 a month from a music store in Burbank, California.

Benjamin Jaffe

Benjamin Jaffe, a Williamstown native, is part of the touring group supporting outlaw pop-country star and Grammy Award winner Kasey Musgraves.

The US leg of the tour wrapped up last month. He will join the European tour from June, in Barcelona, ​​Spain.

He loves it, he says.

“It’s with my friends,” he said. “It’s a real bandaged. We all love music. It’s funny. We are well paid. It’s awesome.

MUSICAL DEBUTHe seems to be surprised by all this. The fact that he’s 36 years old and still able to spend most of his waking hours thinking about music and playing music – it all amounts to a dream come true for him. ex-Williamstown boy who worked at Toonerville Trolley Records and spent all his earnings buying records from his employer.

He started playing music at age 6. The first instrument was the violin. It didn’t stick. He didn’t want to be Itzhak Perlman. First he wanted to be the great jazz drummer Randy Kaye. Then he wanted to be the great singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley.

As for the drums, Jaffe excelled. Indeed, he took drum lessons with Kaye, who had by then moved from New York to the Berkshires. Jaffe began playing in bands, including with his Berkshire Country Day classmates, the Putnams, Asher and Jesse.

Jaffe recalled the moment that changed his life at the Putnam house in the basement. He was maybe 11 years old. Robert Putnam, the father, who is among the Berkshires top weekend warrior musicians, came down the steps, plugged in an electric guitar and started playing Jimi Hendrix.

“It blew my mind,” Jaffe said. “I didn’t know you could do that. That combination of him and Randy Kaye was really what steered me in the direction I wanted to go.

After graduating from high school, he skipped college and headed straight for Los Angeles to become his own version of Jeff Buckley – a singer-songwriter, that is, with a soft and moving voice and with stories to tell from the front lines of deeply felt feelings. experience.

With the exception of a two-year hiatus in Nashville, Tennessee, Jaffe has always made Los Angeles his home.

During those early years, starting at age 18, he struggled to sing his own songs at open-mic nights, but he suffered from horrible stage fright. He continued and eventually landed paid gigs. However, because of his raw nerves, he fell physically ill before the shows.

“But I just kept playing,” he said.

He eventually met two music legends who proved pivotal in Jaffe’s pursuit of a music career. The first was Andrew Paley, a songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist whom Beach Boy Brian Wilson himself once called “the most frighteningly talented person I’ve ever met.”

Paley lined up Jaffe with a few recording sessions, including on “SpongeBob SquarePants”.

“All of a sudden I get these kind of weird showbusiness opportunities,” Jaffe recalled.

These included dressing in a peach-colored tuxedo and playing jazz on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

The second person he met who supported him was Ned Albright, who wrote songs for Glen Campbell, Dusty Springfield and The Monkeys. Thanks to Albright, Jaffe found his way to a recording studio to professionally record his own songs for the first time.

It was then that he met a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist named Suzanne Santo, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. They formed the band Americana Honeyhoney in 2006, which became the center of Jaffe’s existence for the next 11 years until the two (who had been romantically involved) disbanded.

Along the way, the duo recorded three albums under three different record labels, toured extensively (at one point in a 2007 Cadillac Escalade whose former owner was Elon Musk), were regulars on the TBS comedy series “The Guest Book,” and developed a devoted cult following with the help of super fan, podcaster Joe Rogan.

Since 2017 Jaffe has been recording as a solo performer. He has also co-written songs for other artists and composed music for films and television. Before the pandemic hit, he was hosting multimedia performances in Los Angeles that were generating rave reviews.

Then, last summer, Musgraves came calling.

This week, in this extended break from a world tour, Jaffe traveled to Alford, to record with the Putnams. They pondered what they were going to do when they performed Thursday at The Egremont Barn, in the same town where Jaffe played his first paid gig, aged 14, at an old roadhouse on Route 23.

“I think the concept is,” the elder Putnam said, “we’re going to recreate some of the things they did when they were teenagers in the basement, maybe take turns.”

Putnam, himself, will have a song request from Jaffe: that he sing John Lennon’s song “Jealous Guy.” He’s heard Jaffe sing it before.

“Yeah, he just kills it with that Donny Hathaway-esque soulful vocals,” Putnam said.

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