July 31, 2006
Benny Weinbeck releases new CD
By Ivan Raconteur
Winsted native Benny Weinbeck’s musical career has taken him many places.
From the beaches of Mexico, to the mountains of Colorado, to the streets of Los Angeles, he has gone where the music has taken him.
Last week, it took him to a Target store to check out the display of his new CD, “The Piano: The Standards.”
The CD, which was released last week, is one of more than two dozen CDs that Weinbeck has composed, produced or recorded on.
It is a duo CD featuring Weinbeck on the piano and Gordy Johnson on bass.
The CD is a collection of piano standards, and is available at all Target stores.
In addition to live performances and recording CDs, Weinbeck has produced music for films and even video games.
Weinbeck, a Holy Trinity graduate, said that his parents, Ben and Irene Weinbeck of Winsted, provided some of his early musical influences.
“My mom and dad always had great music playing,” he commented.
Weinbeck’s other influences include the music of Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, and Chick Corea.
He started performing in 1977.
While in high school, he was the youngest member of The Dust Bowl Blues Band.
He began to do solo performances, often playing in restaurants.
“My main interest at that time was learning to play jazz really well,” he said.
When he was 21, he took a vacation in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico with his girlfriend.
They were sitting in a restaurant, and Weinbeck noticed a piano. He went over and played a few songs.
The owner was impressed, and offered Weinbeck a job playing piano.
Two weeks later, he was working in Mexico. The job lasted through the winter.
“The hotel was across the street from the ocean. I went wind surfing during the day, and played in the restaurant at night,” Weinbeck said.
When he returned to the US, he spend some time in Aspen, Colo. and Naples, Fla. working with jazz groups and doing some composing.
“I have always been into keyboards,” Weinbeck commented.
When he was 24, he started a mail order company selling software for keyboards. He put together sheets with settings for keyboards that allowed users to achieve a variety of effects.
Changes in technology and other interests caused Weinbeck to move on to other things.
A chance encounter with Richard Damico led to a gig that has lasted for 19 years.
Damico heard Weinbeck play at a wedding, and soon Weinbeck was playing piano at Damico Cucina in Minneapolis.
He still performs there on several weekend nights each month.
He also puts together background music for all 20 of Damico’s restaurants, and books entertainment for one of them.
Johnson has performed with Weinbeck for 16 of his 19 years at the restaurant.
Three years ago, Weinbeck opened a full-featured recording studio in south Minneapolis.
In addition to his own projects, he records and produces the work of other musicians.
Weinbeck has also composed and produced music for video games.
“You really have to go after it, but once you get it, it is a lot of fun,” he said of the video game music business. He said he has flown to Los Angeles, Calif. several times to meet with people in the industry.
Technology has played a part in much of Weinbeck’s music career, and he said he does almost all of his composing on the computer.
He has composed music for several short films and documentaries, and he is currently working on his first feature film, which is scheduled to be released this fall.
Weinbeck lives near the Luce Line Trail, and he enjoys getting out and riding a few miles on his bicycle when he can.
He also enjoys spending time with his children, ages 5 and 7.
He is already working on his next CD, which will feature all original compositions.
More information about Weinbeck, and samples of his music, are available on the following web sites:
His CDs are available at Target stores and through the web sites.