It's nearly impossible not to yawn at the mere mention of the term "singer-songwriter." You've heard it before — some Lisa Loeb or Elliott Smith clone crooning about a botched relationship over the sounds of a barista cranking out another chai latte. Singer-songwriter Ari Herstand has worked hard to distance himself from the "acoustic dude" crowd and his coffee house past. In concert, he incorporates a variety of sounds into his set, using a loop pedal to layer his songs with beatboxing, keyboard, trumpet, and vocal embellishments. "If you listen closely, you can hear some of my earlier ska influences and New Orleans-style brass band influences," Herstand says. "I still maintain those roots." Herstand's unique approach to solo performance came after witnessing a blues artist utilize a loop pedal. "I was at an open mic and I saw someone looping [a 12-bar blues riff]," he says. "[He] just kinda laid down the guitar foundation and soloed on top of it." Inspired, Herstand bought a loop station and locked himself in his room to figure the device out. "[I performed] a show shortly after. I looped just one song at that show. I remember seeing the audience's jaws collectively drop. I'm, like, all right, I think I'm on to something here."
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