RRI: Spotlight on guitarist Ben Medina of Good Karrma
By Todd Houston
Rockford Rocked Interviews: Good morning, Ben. Looks like you have been keeping busy since the last time I saw you playing guitar with Pablo and the Rhythmix. Last night your band Good Karrma was at Hope & Anchor and I understand your other band project Baby Rae’z have some gigs booked for the near future. How many bands are you actually in now and how do you find the time?
Ben Medina: I am currently in 3 projects “officially” and kicking the tires on two more (laughs). Within the last few months I have been fortunate and blessed to have so many people want to work with me. I can’t say no! And since music is my passion, I always seem to find the time to commit. My wife, Natealle is a very, very understanding person.
RRI: Did you get your Scottish Eggs?
BM: No! Hope & Anchor happened to be sold out! I was so looking forward to trying one.
RRI: You certainly aren’t stuck in just one genre of music as far as the set list goes. What sort of music were you listening to growing up?
BM: As a kid in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s, I listened to a lot of oldies on AM 1440 WROK. One of my all time favorite bands from that era is The Monkees. Very underrated in my opinion. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s I got heavily into Alternative music, with 10,000 Maniacs being my all time favorite band in the world. Rob Buck from the Maniacs is my number one influence in my playing style, may he rest in peace.
RRI: In a previous conversation you told me that your grandfather played guitar in a country/western band. Was he the one responsible for getting you into playing the guitar?
BM: My grandfather played professionally back in the ‘50s in the Grand Junction area of Colorado. I believe his group name was called the Haybaylers. I never got to meet him, as he passed in 1963 but he was certainly a huge influence on me just from hearing stories about him and what a great player he was. It was my dad that actually taught me how to play guitar when I was eight years old, and he has been so supportive of what I do, in fact, my dad even made a guitar for me, which is my “number one”. He also made the rock-solid pedal board that I still use!
RRI: Do you do any of your own song writing?
BM: I’ve written a bunch of tunes that made their way onto MySpace. But that’s as far as those tunes ever made it. One of my future projects will definitely involve those tunes.
RRI: Favorite place to take your family out to eat here in the Rockford area?
BM: Marc’s Fusion. No contest.
RRI: If you could only listen to one record for the rest of your life and nothing else what would you choose?
BM: Love Among the Ruin’s by 10,000 Maniacs. That record keeps getting better every time I listen to it.
RRI: Prince or Michael Jackson?
BM: Why not both?! Gun to my head? Probably Prince (Sorry, Brian Bentley)
RRI: Favorite television show?
BM: Of All time? Three’s Company.
RRI: Favorite inspirational quote?
BM: I have so many, but lately the on that has been driving me as of late is “Ready, Shoot, Aim” which goes against the conventional wisdom of “ready, aim, shoot”. If that makes sense.
RRI: Full blown man beard or classic ‘90s goatee?
BM: Man beard all the way.
RRI: Last chance to plug your bands! Where can we catch Ben Medina honking out guitar riffs next?
BM: Since I’m not into tootin’ my own horn, I’d much rather plug the local musicians around here that have influenced me in one way, shape, or form: There are two local guitarists that have actually influenced my playing and have taught me so much: Pistol Pete and Rick Rhodes (The Dreamz, Blue Steel). For showmanship, there are too many local cats to list! I have been so fortunate and blessed to have personally worked with some of the top front men I have ever seen: Brian “Flex” Bentley, Tee Sing (Drama Queen), Blake Krogull (Blue Steel), Mike Davis (Rollin’ Whiskey). When seeing them perform, I still have to pinch myself and think “Man, I actually played with these guys!” As far as where to catch me next, I’ll need to give a plug out to my boys, Good Karrma. This is band fronted by Austin Karr, who is one hell of song writer and an awesome guitar player in his own right. Also, Wade Chamberlain rocks the bass, and we have have John “Pizza Monster” McCallum pounding the drums. Together we play a variety of classic rock songs, along with some original tunes. You can catch me and the Good Karrma boys somewhere just about every week. One can check the Good Karrma Facebook page for a current list of events.