Art & Entertainment: Ben Union goes hip-rock

Ben Mira – a.k.a. singer-songwriter Ben Union – is fond of coming up with hyphenated descriptors for his catchy, genre-mashing sound. It's progressive-funk-rock for the songs collected on his last album, “The Blessed Union, vol. 1.” “Now we're messin' with a little hip-rock,” he said of the new sound he and his band – guitarist Talon Carpenter, bassist Derek Brown and his brother, drummer Jared Mira – will unveil Saturday, Nov. 3, at Jazzbones. “I love groove-driven music,” he said. “But my writing has been more rock and pop, and it's groovy. But I want to write music that I myself want to dance to.” Based on his description, “hip-rock” is a sound that floats somewhere between set staples, like “The Light” and “Paul Sartre,” and the sample-powered hits you hear on KISS-FM and KUBE 93.

“We are adding samples,” he said. “I don't know that I'll play with my MIDI board live. I'm gonna try to mimic a lot of those sounds through my guitar. Some things we do are gonna just be off tracks. It is heavy tracks. But we're trying to get to the point where we can perform it live.” Union said he plans to release a new CD in January, but he broke down a few fresh cuts fans may hear between now and then.

“Trouble” – “'Trouble' is the song I'm most excited about. That's kind of what lead the way with the hip-rock thing. It's about people that ... kind of motivate me to be successful because of their naysaying and things like that. But it's also really fun sounding. It's really dancey.” “Shake That Ass” – “It is, as the title says, a song to shake your ass to. We're not playing hip-hop music. But the beat would be like a Dr. Dre beat or (Outkast's) “Ms. Jackson,” something like that. I'm trying to get in the studio with (local guitarist) Rafael Tranquilino. I think he's going to do a solo on 'Shake that Ass.'”

“Angelize” – “I've played that acoustic. Maybe once before we played it as a band before it was completely written. But we've never played this version before that we'll be playin'.” “Output” – “It's completely instrumental, and it was a random name. That's about as deep as it goes on that one. It's not like any other jam we've ever done, though..” A remake of Jay-Z and Rihanna's “Run this Town” – “I collaborated with (Seattle R&B artists) Tess Henley on that one. She is, in my opinion, the tops in Seattle as far as talent goes. She's got a powerful voice, and she does all of what Rihanna would sing. I completely rewrote the verses so it's not rapping, but we're using the chorus.” Whiskey Union and Des Reus fill out this weekend's bill. Music starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door; 253-396-9169 or http://www.jazzbones.com for further details.

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