Guitarist and singer/songwriter Ben Sparaco has made the most of his move from South Florida to Nashville, including the release of solo album Wooden a year ago. We first encountered Sparaco almost two years ago when he turned heads with impressive sets at Suwannee Springfest and the Wanee Music Festival in March and April of 2016. His style, at the age of 18, showed great promise, much like Derek Trucks in some respects.
In addition to his set at Wanee, he further impressed with Crazy Fingers, a prominent Dead tribute band. In addition to his solo work, the late Butch Trucks invited him along for some of the Freight Train Band shows. We had the opportunity to speak with Sparaco on Tuesday shortly before he was to perform in Nashville.
MFN: How has the move to Nashville been?
BS: It has been great. This is a great community, and I have been playing a lot. I did 80 dates this year, and we have 100 scheduled for next year.
MFN: I see that you are off to The Fillmore in San Francisco.
BS: Yes! I’m leaving in ten hours (4 AM CST). This will be great. When I get there, we’ll rehearse. And it’s great being a sideman, not having to worry about band aspects. I’m really excited.
[The show Thursday, December 8th, features Duane Betts and the brand new six-piece band The Devon Allman Project with very special appearances by Robert Randolph, G. Love, Berry Oakley Jr, Cody & Luther Dickinson, Samantha Fish, Peter Levin, Brooklyn Allman, Ben Sparaco, Alex Orbison, Jimmy Hall. One night only celebrating the Allman / Betts World Tour Kickoff and the 70th Birthday of Gregg Allman. Don’t miss it! Team DA]
MFN: And then you are involved with the show at The Funky Biscuit (Boca Raton) December 23rd.
BS: Yes! It’s the Brothers & Sisters Annual Holiday Jam Celebrating The Allman Brothers Band. Melody Trucks and her band will be there along with others. It will be a great night. The music of The Allman Brothers is what got me started in the beginning. I haven’t played a lot of that recently.
MFN: We were fortunate to get to see Melody and her band at the Great Outdoors Jam in September. They were amazing. Afterward, Melody gushed about how much it meant, because that was the band’s first performance.
BS: I haven’t seen them yet, but the band is loaded. I love Willis Gore from Bonnie Blue (one of the guitarist). We play with Bonnie Blue (from Jacksonville) a lot. Melody has the opening set. I’ll be playing the main set. But you might just find me on stage with Melody for a bit!
MFN: Tell us about your band, The New Effect.
BS: We actually just came up with that name recently, but it is the same band I’ve been touring with all year. There was one change. And our new single was just released Wednesday, “There is No Them.”
MFN: It is excellent.
BS: Thank you. We are working on a new album which we hope to release next spring. We like this new direction with neo-soul that you hear on “There is No Them.”
MFN: Tell us more about the Nashville influence.
BS: It is such a family atmosphere here, so much to learn. I’ve played straight bluegrass gigs, and you can hear that influence on Wooden. I work more often as a side man than as band leader in Nashville, which provides great opportunities.
MFN: The band has a lot of touring coming up in 2018. Are you hitting any new areas?
BS: We are going back to the Bay Area. The first time we went to San Francisco, the vibe was so right, and we had great crowds. So we’re going back there. We are playing the Southwest — that’s new for us. And the Midwest. We’ll play more shows there next year than before.
MFN: Enjoy your West Coast visit! We look forward to seeing you in 2018.
BS: Thank you.
Ben Sparaco and The New Effect
12/14/17 The 5 Spot, Nashville TN
12/28/17 Blue Canoe, Tupelo MS
12/29/17 Martin’s, Jackson MS
12/30/17 Boyd’s Jig & Reel Knoxville TN
Guest Artist Appearances
12/08/17 The Fillmore w/ Devon Allman Project, San Francisco CA
12/23/17 Funky Biscuit w/ Brothers & Sisters Annual Holiday Jam Celebrating The Allman Brothers Band, Boca Raton FL
12/31/17 Radio Café w/ Statesboro Revival, Nashville TN