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First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: steve vai

steve vai

Nashville Berklee Jam with Bryan Beller ’92 – April 29, 2013

Eric Normand ’89 runs the Nashville Berklee Jam. For the full post please visit

Our second installment of the Nashville Berklee Jam at The Rutledge brought out a great crowd, an inspiring story, and some “vibey” performances. Our special guest on this night, bass extraordinaire and Berklee alumnus, Bryan Beller ’92, gave an insightful talk that touched on the ups and downs of his life and his experience in the music business.

Long before his recent work with Steve Vai, Dethklok, The Aristocrats, and his current role as bassist on Joe Satriani’s 2013 European tour, Bryan roamed the halls of Berklee College of Music searching for a higher level of musical awareness and his place in the world of music. This joureny would take him to LA and a stint with the Dweezil Zappa band, a move that led to an interesting chain of events.

To read the full post with photos click here.

Special thanks to Bryan and Kyra for making this event a big success; The Rutledge, alumni Amanda Williams and Arielle Schwalm, videographer, Jack Zander, and Fran Breen (drums) and Eric Bikales (keys) for donating their time.

The Nashville Berklee Jam is held at The Rutledge on the last Monday of every other monday, with the next event to take place on Monday, June 24 featuring special guest, President of the Nashville Musician’s Union and A-list bassist, Dave Pomeroy.

For more info about future events, please visit the Nashville Berklee Jam website If you would like to learn more about the Nashville music industry, please check out Eric Normand’s book, “The Nashville Musician’s Survival Guide“.

Ben Levin: My Private Session with Steve Vai (part two)

After winning a context, guitar performance student Ben Levin—last seen auditioning for Lady Gaga’s band—is in Los Angeles at a master class with his creative hero, Berklee alumnus Steve Vai—and he’s just stuck his foot in his mouth. Fortunately, they move on….

Steve immediately opened the floor for questions and not too many people were raising their hands. Since I had A LOT of questions, I ended up asking a ton of them and I got some incredibly inspiring information out of him! He also asked us what our goals were and offered personal advice.

Here are my two most important questions and Steve’s answers as I understood them:

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Ben Levin: My Private Session with Steve Vai (part one)

Have you ever had a conversation with your biggest creative influence? Guitar performance student Ben Levin did, with Berklee alumnus Steve Vai—and wasn’t disappointed.  Here’s the first part of his kinda crazy, very L.A. experience. More next week.

I recently won a contest where Steve Vai picked 10 guitarists to fly out to Los Angeles for a private master class. Steve Vai has been my greatest musical influence and needless to say, I have been ecstatic about the opportunity. The experience was really fascinating and inspiring, so I thought I’d share it with you and try my best to relay what Steve was telling us.

Steve Vai with Ben Levin. Photo taken by Dan Cristol.

Steve Vai with Ben Levin. Photo taken by Dan Cristol.

I flew from Boston to LAX where a transportation service picked up all the contest winners, and took us to our hotel.

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