If you’ve ever sailed the waters of Second Life with the Leeward Cruising Club (LCC) on a Tuesday at 5 p.m. SLT, you’ll know DJ BennyThe Boozehound. For over five years, has brought a special blend of music to residents of the sailing sims.
At a recent after-cruise party, he played ‘50s and ‘60s tunes, such as “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” and “La Bamba,” but not the versions you might remember.
“I may have 16 or so versions of the same song and, sometimes, I lay a different version on the audience,” he said. “I just want people to get what isn’t in the original version.”
With more than 91,500 mp3s on his drive, Boozehound always has something new for a crowd. In fact, a brainchild of Boozehound was to recreate Woodstock in SL.
“I’d read this thing about the Woodstock Project, where people were collecting every bit of tape from Woodstock,” said Boozehound. “I have every existing recording.” So, two successful Woodstock events became a reality—in 2012 and 2013. The second Woodstock ran 13 hours, attracted 90 avatars on the sim at a time, had the highest traffic rating in SL for a sim that day, and earned L$500,000 for Relay for Life.
|Photo credit: Runa McMillan|
2013 Woodstock Organizers Runa McMillan (left), BennyThe Boozehound, Fiona Haworth, and Charlz Price
Boozehound spoke about his music, his approach to DJing, and his influences.
Interview with BennyThe Boozehound
Moonshade: What made you decide to DJ in SL?
Benny: It was the urge to perform. I had this dream for a while. Before I started doing anything, I did test recordings of playing live music. I was better than some people and not as good as others. I’m a tough critic. I decided I wasn’t going to do that. As Benny, I had access to the stream in Sailors Cove, so I told one of the owners that I’d like to stream Christmas music on all the public sims. I changed them to my stream and streamed it all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Then a St. Patrick’s Day party in Sailors Cove came along and I said, “Oh, I can do that.” Then I started doing the Leeward Cruising Club parties and got encouragement.
Moonshade: Why do you DJ, primarily, in the SL’s sailing sims?
Benny: DJing in the sailing sims is huge. I’ve had well over 350 shows at dozens of venues. At every estate, yacht club, the Galaxy cruise ship, the Blake Sea, and many private homes, I've played gigs for everyone. Not just with LCC and the many Sail4Life shows but also weddings, birthday parties, memorial services, special events, and huge shows like Woodstock and a Gatsby party [to honor the memory of Nantucket Yacht Club commodore, Francois Jacques]. I've played every genre of music. A club DJ would never get this kind of exposure or opportunity. To be perfectly honest, why would I DJ anywhere else? Just like a certain club venue might be home to a DJ, the entire sailing community has been home to me, and they've kept me pretty busy over the years--happily.
|photo credit: Runa McMillan|
Moonshade: What types of music do you typically play?
Benny: I’d say that the genres that I focus on start in the 1920s with the small band jazz to the ‘40s big band jazz to the ‘50s rock and roll, doo-wop, rockabilly, etc. I play a lot of the ‘60s music—all the psychedelia and all the ‘60s pop, Motown, and R&B. The ‘70s material I get into were maybe not the popular music of the day. There's a lot of reggae, folk, British rock, and, ultimately, disco and funk. I play quite a lot of ‘80s material as well--punk, ska, new wave, synth pop, and grunge. If it was recorded between 1920 and 1995, I probably have something of a collection of it. Nothing is off limits though. For me, all music is valid and worth exploration.
Moonshade: What genres are your favorite to play?
Benny: Blues, jazz, Dixieland, and zydeco. If I had to work at a club (this is the only way I can answer this question), where I could play only one kind of music, I would work at a blues club. It’s the music I know most about. It’s the music that satisfies my need to play something new for people, something I discover they haven’t heard before. Probably, one out of every four LCC shows is a blues show. Blues is a big genre.
Moonshade: What influenced your taste in and love for music?
Benny: I grew up in the Philadelphia area. My parents were good friends with a primetime DJ and program manager for WFIL, George Michael, and his wife. They’d go out clubbing with my parents on Friday or Saturday nights. Guess who got to watch the kids? When they came back, Mr. Michael didn’t pay me [for babysitting] in cash, he paid me in records. He was a top DJ for a Philadelphia big market, top 40 radio station. Every record company sent him promotional copy albums. At the age of 9, I was listening to what is considered now as classic blues—Lightnin’ Hopkins, Booker. I had Dr. John’s first album. Mr. Michael would give me everything he wouldn’t use because he worked for a top 40 radio station. So at that early age, I was exposed to this huge diversity of music—everything from country, country blues, off the wall pop, off the wall folk, electronic music, and jazz. He gave me Miles Davis’ album Bitches Brew. So by the time I was 12 years old, I’d heard it all.
Benny’s LCC Show at the Nantucket Yacht Club
Moonshade: Why is "Leeward Cruising Club's Guerilla DJ" on your profile?
Benny: The reason for this is that doing shows with the traveling circus that is LCC requires some special skills. We never go to the same place twice in a row, and we go to new venues all the time. It isn't a finite list. This means that the DJ crew and myself have to do set up with property owners. Many times, this is a simple process and, just as many, it is not--securing media permissions, build permissions, finding just the right party spot or, in some cases, building one. Through the years, I've coordinated with dozens of venue owners, and they are always cordial and helpful if not downright excited. This is one of the pleasures of doing the Leeward thing for me. I have the utmost respect for those folks and their willingness to share, if only for a few hours, their piece of the grid with us."
Moonshade: Where did your name, Benny the Boozehound, come from?
Benny: That’s from a song. I was looking at names [for my avatar in SL] and I see “Boozehound.” It just popped into my head. There’s a song by Emerson, Lake & Palmer on the Brain Salad Surgery album. It’s called “Benny the Bouncer.” And I was just like: “Benny the Boozehound.”
Moonshade: Tell us about the LCC.
Benny: I encourage everyone to sail with the Leeward Cruising Club. Everyone is welcome of course, and if you don't sail, we'll find you a spot on a boat to ride along. Our motto is "No one left on the dock." If you don't sail, swim; if you don't swim, fly; if you don't fly, drive. In fact, I have a VW hippie bus I drive on the sea floor. But by all means, join the group, come along and you get to hear everyone in our DJ crew. And best of all, you never go to the same place twice in a row and never hear the same music twice in a row.
Moonshade: Do you have a group that people can join so they know when and where you’re DJing?
Benny: I have two--Benny Tunes and Blue Pelican. The LCC, Second Life Sailing Association (SLSA), and Second Life Sailing Community (SLSC) make note of my Tuesday LCC shows weekly. I encourage people to join those.