I have another livestreaming concert to alert you about. This one is Saturday, Nov. 21, and it’ll run on Ben Rudnick’s Facebook page, facebook.com/benrudnickandfriends, at 10:30 a.m. To prepare for it, I reached this genial gentleman at his home in Arlington, Massachusetts, where he talked about the history of Ben Rudnick and Friends and the music his band plays.

Q: One of the lead-off questions I’ve been asking artists from away for decades now is this: Have you ever performed up in Maine before?
Rudnick: Yeah, we did. We’ve played on the streets of Portland several times for the City of Portland; they were the ones to write the checks. I also had a little place up in Kennebunkport for a little while, up until last year, so I’ve spent some time in Maine. I like Maine.

Q: I’m kind of partial to it, as well. Just out of curiosity, how long have you been into doing the family music performances?
Rudnick: Well, I was a stay-at-home dad, as well. I read some place that you were a stay-at-home dad and that’s sort of how it came down for me, too. That was after (earning) the computer science degree and working for the high tech (industry) for a decade. Plus, one of us needed to stay home, and that was me. We started in 2000 recording what became the first album, “Emily’s Songs,” and the original idea was that it would be a knock-off,  so it’s been 20 years.

Q: Congratulations, man.
Rudnick: Yeah, but I guess I use the term “family music” to indicate, to me anyway, that we don’t really just perform for kids. We’ve done birthday parties because people know who we are and want us to come, but any sets that we play are going to be littered with Johnny Cash and Mark Knopfler and Bob Wills (laughter). And (it will) have our music that I’ve created, and one of my buddies has written a few tunes, and the songs we’ve chosen over the years. To have (the audience) sit so kindly and firmly next to “Here Comes The Sun,” that’s really just amazing to me. So, we choose the songs that people are really familiar with like a “Here Comes The Sun” or a “Jambalaya” or a “Hey, Good Lookin.’” Our stuff just slides right into that, and it just works. That’s why I always use the term “family music,” and it makes me feel good about it.

Q: Well, I’d like to talk a little bit about that event you have coming up on Nov. 21 that will be livestreamed, I believe.
Rudnick: Yeah, it’s at the Regent here in Arlington, Massachusetts, where I live.

Q: Now, what can folks expect from that show?
Rudnick: Well, you know, they can expect the set list that’s sitting here on my desk (laughter). We play music; that’s what we do. We don’t juggle, unfortunately. Although I do know how to juggle a little bit, but that’s not part of the show (chuckle). We play music that is fan favorites, our favorites. We like to have people up dancing and active. It’s just music; that’s what we’ll be doing on the 21st, and it’s a hoot. When we play it feels like community to me. For example, the second show we ever did was on the Lexington Town Common, and we had like 2,000 people there, with our modest PA. It could not have been cooler. We see people coming together and just celebrating when we show up, and that’s the deal. So on the 21st we’ll be on a stage playing the songs that people like the best and we like the best. … Because it’s going to be a streaming situation, people can tune in at any time during the show. It’s a donation event. Hopefully people will donate, but they don’t have to. They can just check in and check out and check in. We’ll be playing for a while. We’ll be having a ball, because that’s what we do when we play. It feels like a celebration when we play.

Q: And probably even more so now seeing the pandemic has pretty much shut down the live concert season.
Rudnick: You’re right. We haven’t been able to play all the gigs we had lined up this summer. I mean, we had really a great schedule. I don’t think there was any three- or four-day stretch when we weren’t playing. That, of course, got curtailed, so just seeing each other is a celebration (laughter).

Q: Now for this show, will you have a socially distanced audience or will you be performing to an empty hall?
Rudnick: In Massachusetts right now my understanding is there can be an audience, and the management at the Regent really left it up to me if I was comfortable with that. I was hedging on that, because I didn’t want to be the focal point of any kind of a super-spreader event. It’s just not my thing. So, we’re going with the streaming; that’s the deal. And that’s OK. Everybody’s OK with that including the Regent, because by Nov. 21st it’s hard to say if they’ll even be able to have an audience with everything picking up again like it is.

Q: Oh, and I should ask this, how many people are in your band?
Rudnick: Historically, we’ve been four and five. The main two are myself on the guitar and my buddy John Zevos from Manchester, New Hampshire, who’s a stellar guitar player, but with his outfit on he plays the mandolin. His son now plays bass with us, Chris Zevos, and then our drummer is typically Jerod Steer. He’s been with us since 2002, but we have a back-up drummer, Dave Dillion, who will be with us at this show. And then, historically, we had an accordion player for about seven years, but he moved to Oxford, Mississippi. For this show we’re going to have a guy named Scott Kepnes who will be playing harmonica with us. Also for this show, we’ll have, well, she was a little girl when I wrote “Grace’s Bell,” but she’s a bigger girl and she sings and plays. So Grace is going to be singing harmonies with us, which is kind of neat. It’s just cool. There will be four and then two more, so it’ll be six of us at this particular show.

Q: Now, is there anything, Ben, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Rudnick: Yeah, probably every musician feels like their music makes your life better. I would expect that’s what they think, and I believe that (completely) especially from the family point of view. I just think it’s a really good family bonding thing to do — listen to our music. Of course, that’s my opinion, but I’ve seen it. In this pandemic time it’s one more thing you can use to have a common interest and a common bond, if that’s my contribution, hey, OK!

Lucky Clark has spent over 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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