Interview with BD Lenz
The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
By Jack Smeltz
I attended my first Jazzfest in Ellicottville seven years ago. Since then the name has changed to Jazz and Blues Weekend but the one thing that remains constant is the B. D. Lenz Band. They will be playing their seventh festival July 29th at Balloons from 6-9:30pm.
This jazz fusion/ power trio from Jersey will, as always, be making their first American performance after a tour of the UK this weekend.
The band is made up of Lenz on lead guitar, James Rosocha on bass and Joe Falcey on drums.
The second year they played here I invited them to my house for dinner that started a tradition of me making dinner for any working bands that come through town. I spoke with B. D. the day after they returned from a triumphant 3-week tour of England.
MouthSayTongue (MST): Why do you keep coming back to E’ville?
Lenz: We love the town. There’s always a party going on and the crowd listens to what we play. We don’t have to play Mustang Sally. It’s very refreshing
MST: Is it your favorite venue?
Lenz: Balloon’s is definitely in our top five, as I said it’s always an appreciative crowd. Mike Kerns is a huge part of it too. He takes great care of us and the band house is very unique. It’s great to be able to stay right upstairs.
MST: What made you start playing guitar?
Lenz: Well I played saxophone in the band until I was 14 and my uncle gave me a guitar. That was a game changer.
MST: Who were you’re early influences?
Lenz: Hendrix, Stevie Ray, Joe Satriani.
MST: When did you start playing jazz?
Lenz: I attended The Musicians Institute of Los Angeles and I felt the need to expand my musical knowledge. Jazz was an instant fit.
MST: How many CD’s have you recorded?
MST: What’s your favorite?
Lenz: My most recent, Manifesto, (mine also) is my favorite. I worked the hardest on the writing and made sure that all the instrumentation was just right. I put that special effort into the production as well. For better or worse I’ve produced all my own material.
MST: How do you like playing in the UK?
Lenz: Well, playing over there is different than playing in the States. The people are more receptive to all types of music.
MST: Is that because of radio?
Lenz: No, it’s because the government places an emphasis on the arts. They invest a lot of effort in education.
MST: You’re a full time math teacher. What would you like to do musically when you retire?
Lenz: I’d love to move to New Orleans and become a part of the music scene. Even it it’s anonymous. There’s such a diverse music culture down there.
I encourage you to make it to Balloons Saturday and if you don’t think these guys are fantastic I’ll buy you a drink. For my money B. D. is one of the premier guitar players in the country.
I want to mention that James Rosocha, whose been playing on and off with B. D. for 25 years, just released his first CD, Avalon. Looking forward to getting a copy.
I’ve become good friends with all of these guys and I look forward to their performance every year. If you can’t catch them at the festival they usually come back in the winter for a mini tour.