My first name is actually Roland, Roland Dale Benedict. My parents had the foresight to name me after the well-known music equipment company in the hopes of securing an endorsement deal one day. Okay, that’s not completely true, except my first name really is Roland and I really would like to get an endorsement deal. I was actually named after a French knight you can read about in the 12th century epic poem, “The Song of Roland”.
Growing up, piano lessons were forced upon me for many years. I hated it. It wasn’t until I stopped taking lessons that I discovered that playing piano was enjoyable.
Along the way, I discovered the Switched-On Bach records. Then a friend gave me the triple live albums “Welcome Back My Friends” (by ELP) and “Yessongs” (by Yes). There are lots of other musical influences, but those three run the deepest. As a result I saved up and bought my first keyboard, a Minimoog.
There was a “shining moment” that occurred while I was still in high school that is seared in my memory. The jazz band was playing a piece (can’t remember the title) that called for synthesizer. In fact it required TWO synthesizers, because back in the day, those types of keyboards could only play one note at a time (monophonic). The band director borrowed a little Roland synth from a music store, and I had my Minimoog. So there I was, playing two keyboards at once on stage with the jazz band. Afterwards, my dad said he wanted to stand up and say “That’s my boy!”
At the time, I didn’t realize how important that was, to make my father proud of me. But I know that moment has reverberated through the years to shape many of my decisions.
So I earned my degree in music from the University of North Texas. A guitarist friend and I formed a band with some guys with similar musical taste. We spent more than three years playing sporadically and struggling to keep the band together. When the band disintegrated for the last time, I was left with the sound system and the debt.
I refer to these years as my “starving musician period”.
Eventually all the musical doors closed completely, I became highly disillusioned, and quit music entirely. About ten years later, I began playing again, but at my church. Music had returned to my life, but in a new frame.
In 2013 the first Gregorian Rock album was released. My third album, “FIRE“, has just come out.
Although keyboards are my main instruments, I also play a WX7 midi wind controller (an electronic wind instrument – EWI) and Chapman Stick.
The radio in my truck is usually found tuned to the classical station. Some of the music that gets a lot of play on the iPod is Iona, Neal Morse, Frost, and Skillet (see links below).
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