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#AGT COMMUTERCONCERTSERIES Morning Commute 11/30/20: Live A.V. Collage Images by Bencasso Bensquiat

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This is the show I've been doing for morning commuters since 1989. Myself and the cellist form the "original Deadweight" would go play commuter concerts in the San Francisco stations Monday through Friday from 6:30 am until 9:00 am. We made enough tips to pay our rent while in school, and do some bar-hopping too. Morning commute evolved into the cellist's and my string quartet: Rilke String Quartet performing for the commuters most weekday mornings. If the other guys weren't up to playing some mornings, I would go and play Bach and fiddle tunes alone. I liked getting to perform for non-judgemental people who tipped me enough to get a burrito and a beer for lunch, and put something away for the next month's rent. When I had completed both my Master's and Bachelor's degrees at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the Rilke Quartet had lost its first violinist to a European new music string quartet similar to the Kronos Quartet (Graeme got a great gig with the Arditti String Quartet in London), and its second violinist Chris returned to the Land Down Under, my quatet became a gig quartet, no longer playing concerts or competing in chamber music competitions, but playing private special events which I would book from the publicity of performances busking at Bay Area street fairs. I produced a "pops" Rilke Quartet wedding demo. which sold really well at street fairs, in stations and Amoeba records (plus Rasputin and other Bay Area vinyl shops). I formed a band with Jason Newsted's (former bass player of Metallica) help. I convinced the Cellist I'd been busking and playing serious concerts with that it was a really good idea to play original music in rock clubs and road houses, like the way my dad used to when I was growing up, sleeping in the car while my dad played late into the night at biker bars where fights were a regular occasion, and gun shots made their way inside the car every month because some Hell's Angel had made a pass at some other Biker gang's lot lizard. Well, he fell for the idea, and low and behold Deadweight became a favorite in the Bay Area rock and roll scene. Sam and I put Opus 1 out (Deadweight's first release) ourselves. It was financed with one dollar bills we had been awarded for good playing by the commuters who had so generously helped us buy beer and stay housed in college. Sam didn't care for busking, and had other projects which brought him money, as well as a waiting job at an upscale restaurant, but I needed the chance to perform, and the time to write songs and compose jazz and classical pieces. I was even asked to write a string quartet for the Kronos Quartet by David Harrington, their first violinist! He attended a few Deadweight shows, and had been impressed with my string quartet's live recording of the Lyric Suite by serialist 20th century composer Alban Berg. I had walked into their office after I had gotten the recording mastered, and went up the stars to their reception, and handed Mr. Harrington the as he walked by me. He listened to the recording, liked it, and invited me and a guest to see them perform the same piece at Theater Artaud in San Francisco's Mission district. When Deadweight put out our second release, "Half Wit Anthems," we gave David a copy of the album, and he started coming to see us when we were playing in San Francisco. Back to the Commuter Concert Series's Morning Commute (there was an late afternoon early evening concert called Happy Hour Commuters). I continued to perform in stations and on sidewalks until 19 came and killed the commute. I had been playing little shows on guitar and some with my fiddle band on Facebook Live, then a friend became concerned about my ability to pay rent because busking for commuters was dead. He urged set up web cash accounts and ask for donations for the entertainment. I'm a performance artist who peppers his skits, comedy, social commentary, drama, college lectures, and sermons with music. I started playing outside coffee shops and filming the shows live streamed every morning on Facebook. I was awarded the mayor's artists grant, and used the money to buy some GoPro's, Final Cut, and microphones to make the show better. I then started using my computer and doing audio visual live with prerecorded performances against the live video, the recorded video, and my own artwork on the screen. I've always loved doing collage as art therapy, and to add collage has given me a new sense of purpose and reason that I consider myself an actual artist, and not some bum who panhandles on the streets because hes got a personality disorder and can't hold a regular job.

Donations Encouraged
Venmo Ben-Barrnes-44
PayPal ben@
donations of 25 get signed deadwieght memorabilia and the Swindlefish entitled "Unlucky"
donations of 50 or more will receive an authentic Bencasso Bensquat (shipping not included in the donation price)


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