The opening act for this year’s homecoming concert was Ben Provencial (right) and keyboardist Eric Hangartner (left). The Colonnade got the chance to talk to Ben Provencial, a GC Alum, and Eric Hangartner after their act.
How long have you guys been performing together?
BP: It’s more songwriter stuff for my music but Eric came in to help me fill in some sound. So I would say two weeks.
How did tonight’s performance go, and what’s it like being back in Milledgeville?
BP: It was cool, lots of energy. I love the opportunity to be back in Milledgeville for stuff like this. You just can’t pass it up. It feels nostalgic but nice. I plan on going downtown after this to see some places I haven’t seen in a while.
Do you have any big plans for this career?
BP: Well I would love to make it full time; that would be the dream. So keep working at it, but until then sticking it out with customer service jobs. I’ve worked at a coffee shop, a valet service and lots of other side jobs.
What advice would you give to someone that is interested in taking on this career path?
EH: If you really know you want, it then go for it. Make sure to work for it everyday and not lose that focus. Don’t let the pressures of everyone else get in the way of what you want to do. Just set aside the time to sacrifice what you want to do. If you take the time to do so, then you’ll be where you want to be.
BP: Stole the words out of my mouth, that’s perfect. That’s really what it is: hard work and time.
Who else have you performed with?
BP: I have opened up for a few bigger names like Tall Heights, Lewis Watson and then a lot of other people that are friends with me that share the same values. It’s a friends-help-out-friends kind of world in the music industry. It’s fun to work with others that are just as focused as you are.
Who taught you to sing, and how did you begin to perform?
BP: I did take lessons when I was really young for like two to three months, and I listened to soul singers that I liked to try and copy their style, and then I failed at copying them, so it falls sort of in between the sound. Sort of like Sam Cook or Hozier. I see my voice sit kind of low like a baritone.
How does it feel to perform?
BP: It feels great. I love it, but I do get nervous sometimes, but I feel like if you don’t get nervous, it doesn’t mean all that much to you. I put in a lot of hours of rehearsal time for something like this because people are kind of expecting something of you, so I put in that time to give back to them. I try to drink a lot of tea and soup before I perform.
How did you [Eric] learn to play piano?
EH: Let’s just say it was kind of the same thing, and I took piano lessons, but I hated it, so I quit. I would always play around with one at my house though when I was younger. I kept messing around with it until I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
Do you have any habits before taking the stage?
BP: Oh yeah, I like to drink lots of water and had this thing once where I would drink lots of soup beforehand ,but I don’t do that anymore. I thought it [the soup] was like everything, but it doesn’t really change anything. I just get really excited and nervous now, but it’s so fun.
Who inspired you to do music?
EH: I really like Coldplay, I saw them at Music Midtown in Atlanta, and that was when I knew what I wanted to do.
BP: There’s this YouTube channel called Mahogany sessions that I really like listening to, but I don’t have a specific artist that inspired me.