Local musician spotlight: Six questions for Grant Benziger

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When you hear the name Benziger, especially here in Sonoma, your mind immediately goes toward wine. But in the case of Grant Benziger, you’d be wrong.

Oh, he still enjoys the fruits of the vine, but music was his calling from way back in his younger days. When he used to sit in his father’s office, dad Mike Benziger saw the young man taking a keen interest in the music on the radio and encouraged Grant – leading to a father-son trip to Klein’s Music for a $100 guitar. Young Grant couldn’t put it down.

Born and raised in Sonoma County, once he turned 18 Benziger was off to Hollywood to chase his dreams and attend music school at the Musicians Institute. He eventually hooked up with some like-minded musicians who also had appreciation for a variety of musical genres, punk, metal and country, and Curly Wolf was born. The band has now moved to Redondo Beach, which seems to be more to Benziger’s liking than Hollywood.

Curly Wolf will be at B&V Whiskey Bar and Grille tonight, kicking off at 9 p.m. Benziger told us recently about his favorite music and whatever happened to that $100 guitar from Klein’s.

Many musicians in our generation cite the Beatles on Ed Sullivan as that moment when they knew music was what they wanted to do. When did you realize you wanted to be a musician?

Literally the moment I touched a guitar. Once my dad bought it for me, I rarely didn’t have it attached to me. I think one of the moments was when I saw the Bodies at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma about 2001. To see people I knew rocking like that really inspired me. Then my brother took me to a Metallica concert at Candlestick and that was it. I knew then for sure.

Do you still have that $100 guitar from Klein’s?

That sunlight acoustic I got at Klein’s... yes, I still have it. It stays in Glen Ellen and I play it when I’m back home. My nieces play with it now and that’s nice to see.

Who are your primary influences?

For me, it’s ever evolving. Clearly we’re rooted in punk, metal and country, but I’ve tried hard to embrace all genres of music. Just because I like metal doesn’t mean I can’t like Dr. Dre or reggae. My sound turns into a melting pot of all my influences.

What CD or playlist is in your car or your iPod?

Boy, anything from Hank Williams III to Mastadon. Although, when we’re writing it’s primarily our mixes and that’s what is there primarily now. We have a new single that is really different for us that I can’t wait to release.

Tell us about Curly Wolf. Are you playing with anyone else?

The Curly Wolf is the main act, but we have this interesting concept act that is kind of a cross between the Blue Man Group and Alice Cooper called Dead Marionette Theater. It’s really a Halloween style show with lots of theatrics and stage stuff going on. The dream is to bring that act to Vegas.

If you could have written one song, which one would it be?

Oh man, I’ve actually thought about that a lot of times, and came up with a lot of songs. I honestly think if you asked me every day, you’d get a different answer.

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