last call

Actor H. Jon Benjamin recorded a jazz album wherein he played piano, but he doesn’t know how to play piano. Let’s explore the musical conundrum of skill versus emotion.

The guitar is the easiest instrument to play and the hardest to play well.” —Andrés Segovia

You probably know H. Jon Benjamin’s voice. He’s the voice actor for Archer in the animated sitcom Archer, as well as Bob in Bob’s Burgers, and Carl in Family Guy. (Okay, so I watch a lot of cartoons). In 2015, Benjamin recorded a jazz album, Well, I Should Have…, with some true jazzers—Scott Kreitzer on sax, David Finck on bass, Jonathan Peretz on drums—and Benjamin on piano. Here’s the twist: Benjamin does not play piano. Nor is he a fan of jazz. He just went for it, and Sub Pop released it.

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John Bohlinger shows off his glove game at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium before his musical director gig at the NHL Stadium Series 2022 on February 26.

At a recent outdoor NHL Stadium Series performance, it was so cold that my hands went numb. So, I had to improvise.

Last month, I wrapped the NHL Stadium Series at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium in front of 68,619 screaming fans and an army of TV production, crew, etc. The network chose to lean into Nashville’s Music City theme by including performances by 12 of the city’s biggest names in music. About a month ago, the director, Michael Dempsey, whom I worked with on several award shows, hired me as the music director. Here’s how it went.

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Cheap Trick at Budokan is a live concert album recorded in 1978 at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan arena. The Japanese recognized Cheap Trick was great, then the rest of the world followed.

Many bands, like Cheap Trick, experienced breakout success in the Land of the Rising Sun. Here’s my take on what to expect when touring there.

In 6th grade, my progressive parents agreed to let me go see KISS, despite a local church picketing the venue with signs that read “Satan’s Favorite Band” and “K.I.S.S. = Kings in Satan’s Sanctuary.” The opening act was then-unknown Cheap Trick. At the time, their two-nerd/two-cool-guy lineup seemed lame next to the Starchild, Catman, Spaceman, and Demon.

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