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MEET

It all started by the sea...

Raised in a town surrounded by the ocean, Ben's story begins in Newport, Rhode Island. Summers were filled with days at the beach with his brothers, riding bikes up and down the historic downtown streets with friends and spending every waking minute in motion. A deep sense of community, faith and values were prominent, not only within Ben's family but throughout his hometown. Let's wind the clock back and take a look inside Ben's childhood with this unique music video titled, Raised On Kenny. Ben tells the true story of how he was raised, the ground he grew up on and shares some intimate moments of his life...

Throughout high school,

Ben wrestled in the first two years and quickly found a love in baseball playing shortstop and second base for the division one Middletown Islanders baseball team while also putting his heart into the championship winning football team where he played defensive end and offensive tackle.

I was far from the top talent but I loved every second giving it all for teammates I'd do just about anything for. Football above everything taught me the value of coming together for a common goal and never slowing down until after the finish line. Thanks to coach Brown, Leys and Bell I am a better human being because of them.

 

During high school Ben would also learn to play the acoustic guitar in Mr. Statser's music class and he started playing at home for fun. It wasn't until many years later did Ben realize that with a guitar and some stories he could make a living. But first, more on the journey that led to music...

After graduation...

Ben grappled with what to do next. With an adventurous spirit and entrepreneurial mindset Ben decided college would not be an option... so he went to work. For some time he worked for his older brother's construction/landscape company, OConnor Design Build before pursuing his lifelong love for American cars, specifically General Motors. Ben scored a position with Paul Masse Buick GMC where he would attend GM training and learn everything from marketing to sales and the fundamentals of business.

 

This was a bit like a degree for me as I was never good at conventional learning... this sort of offered me a way to learn while applying these skills to the real world immediately. 

Ben thrived in this new position selling the most Buick Verano's in the nation during a 30 day period and was soon presented with the opportunity to be the General Motors representative on the main floor at the Providence International Car Show.

 

This was a proud moment for me considering my Mom always told me my first word was "car"! I've always loved American made cars and this felt in many ways like a dream come true to represent a company i've always admired. To have my brothers and parents show up was the icing on the cake...

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Moving to America's captiol...

was the next move for Ben. After spending nearly two years with GM, Ben felt his horizons were narrowing and his inner vagabond was clamoring for a new world. He departed on a high note with his employers, Paul and Bob Masse, who subsequently offered Ben a position should he ever decide to return. Never moving from his hometown, now at 20 years old, Ben packed up his GMC pickup truck and set his sights southbound for a short, but impactful chapter... so impactful that Ben would later return for videos, photos and inspirations for his music... but more on that later. This move was about being in a place that Ben feels most passionate about... America.

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My Great Uncle, Alfred J. Guilmette, Jr served in WWII, he stormed the beaches of Normandy and fought on the front lines of some of the largest battles of the war. He survived, returned home and I had the honor and pleasure of knowing him. When I was young he shared stories with me and my younger brother about his service... You could say my love for America was sparked in those moments.

Now, living in DC with family friends, most nights I would drive down to the national mall, park my truck and just run... from the Capitol building past the White House, beyond the Lincoln Memorial and over the bridge sometimes into Arlington. I felt that I was living a dream... this was a place I always imagined and during this moment in my life, I could have full access anytime.

Read about Ben's Great Uncle, Alfred J. Guilmette, Jr by tapping here

At a loss for what he wanted professionally and healing from a heartbreak, Ben decided to return to the Ocean State to be around family and friends while he found his footing...

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Soon after moving back...

to his hometown, Ben's brother, Jeremiah announced he was moving to San Diego, CA and he needed someone to help move him across the country. Ben leapt at the opportunity and spent nearly ten days on a journey driving across the nation. The memories made here would influence Ben's life decisions for years to come.

This trip sparked something in me. I hadn't seen much of America before this and I think it resuscitated the wanderer within me and poured fuel on my desire for movement...

Seeing so many new places for the first time was magical and reviving. I think my subconscious was taking notes because so many of the places we visited I would later return for projects with music.

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Captain Tim...

is the owner of Flaherty Charters in Newport, RI and he offered Ben a job as first mate when he returned. Ben accepted and spent nearly a year floating, catching fish from sun up to sun down and learning a new kind of work ethic. 

8, 10, sometimes 12 hour workdays were rough but rewarding... rocking on rough seas, gutting fish, keeping the boat in ship shape all while smiling and accommodating guests was a challenge. I feel like this experience prepared me for the next major step I was about to take...

First mate of Flaherty Charters would be Ben's final occupation...

In a daring twist of fate...

Ben decided he would deprive a burning desire no longer and pursue his love for music and America full time. Beginning in 2015 with both a creative and entrepreneurial mindset, Ben quickly formed a mission statement to serve as a personal reminder of his intentions. The statement reads: "The creation and performance of music which endeavors to energize and inspire the American spirit." This would soon take him on quite a journey...

The dream came to life...

when the band was formed. It's safe to say that Nick and Alex Gomes along with retired police officer, Josh Mello were the founding few that kicked things off with Ben. Not before long Ben and his guys were performing in sold out shows around his hometown. Fellow songwriters and friends like Brandon Langdon and Zach Yates started writing with Ben and thereafter began releasing original music which further grew Ben's expanding following. With much of Ben's music amplifying a patriotic sentiment, his original song "Nation That I Know" struck a chord with many upon its release.

Seeking to expand the impact of his music, Ben's explored unchartered territory in New York City where he was quickly offered a weekly residency performing every Wednesday evening at a popular venue located in Rockafeller Center. He would go on to perform an official after party for the Luke Bryan concert which had been hosted at Madison Square Garden... and on this very night he would meet the love of his life, Olivia (more on this love story in a bit). His time performing for nearly one year in New York City made a lasting impact, more specifically one evening above all would effect the trajectory of Ben's music...

 

It was Pride week in NYC at the same time as a PBR (professional bull riding) championship. The venue I was performing in had about 300 people. On the left side, I’m seeing rainbow flags, and on the other side, leather jackets and cowboy boots. I have this song called Nation That I Know, which I played as the final song of the night. I said, “It’s a little bit political,” and you could hear a pin drop. The message just basically says that we should be one, united in our differences and celebrating for the sake of all those who serve. By the end, I felt like I was in a movie. Instantly, people started coming up. One girl had a rainbow flag draped around her and said it was validating. At the same time, a big burly man with a leather jacket had a tear in his eye. He had three sons in the Marines. To have those two people talking to me at the same time, I realized that music truly is boundless.

(Transcribed by Ashley Bendiksen of Newport Neighbors Magazine)

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