Writing, creating, and recording in his home studio, Ben Beckendorf has rearranged his life to focus on “the craft of music.” His new “decaffeinated” approach emphasizes his unique vocals and acoustic sounds, as well as his original visual art work. Photo by Phil Houseal
Beckendorf’s artwork can be seen at Artisans at Rocky Hill in Fredericksburg: 830-990-8160, www.artisansatrockyhill.com.
Ben Beckendorf: Today
by Phil Houseal
Ever since he found a Gene Autry toy guitar in Grandma Beckendorf’s attic at the age of 8, Ben Beckendorf has known that making music was his destiny. The guitar had only four of its six strings, but they were enough for him to plink out his first melodies.
Unlike some who must overcome a lack of talent, Beckendorf has had to deal with a surfeit of talents. The Fredericksburg native can write, sing, play guitar, piano, bass, and drums. Plus he is an accomplished fine artist, following in the footsteps of his famous father, Charles Beckendorf.
Ben Beckendorf worked in the family art gallery while raising his own family. For most of his adult life, music was something he squeezed in during his spare time.
But three seminal events brought him to the point where he is ready to realize the music potential he first plinked out as a child.
The first arrived as personal tragedy. In 1991, Beckendorf lost his wife, Helen, to cancer. Beckendorf found himself turning to music to help cope. He took time off and began writing songs.
Today I’m gonna try not to worry
“Songwriting really comes easily to me,” he said. “I never really struggled with it. Sometimes the song comes just like that; sometimes it is an idea that sticks in my head. I don’t know where it comes from.”
Beckendorf experienced his second epiphany when he turned 50 a few years ago. He refinanced his house and used the funds to focus more on music.
Since that time, he has been able to work on what he calls “the craft of music.” He still works at the gallery, but now is able to spend more of his time writing and recording in his garage studio, with the added benefit of being close to his wife Juanita and their daughter Rachael.
“Now I can focus on my music skills,” he explained. “I can take my time. It’s something I’ve got to do.”
Beckendorf put together a popular Texas blues trio, sometimes with horns, that has played the local club circuit for several years. Now he wants to expand beyond this geographic area, as well as stretch himself artistically.
That has led Beckendorf to his third revelation: Less is more.
“Like my dad, I want to do everything myself - the art, the packaging, and the selling,” he said. “But I’m learning that hard lesson - that to focus on what you really want to do, you must give up the things someone else can do better.”
To that end, he has worked with a consultant, who is helping showcase his talent and introduce him to a wider audience.
He likes to call his new philosophy “Beckendorf decaffeinated.” The plan is to create more of an acoustic sound, focusing on his unique voice and his songwriting.
“My vocals and songwriting are totally original,” Beckendorf said. “I don’t really sound like anyone else.”
Today I’m gonna try not to worry, Today I’m gonna try not to cry
He also is toying with the idea of combining his music with gallery shows of his artwork. Beckendorf is accomplished in watercolor, pencil, and acrylic, and is exploring beyond the Texas wildlife studies that established his father’s reputation
“I’m excited about it,” he said. “It’s a new beginning, something worthwhile. I have wanted to do this for a long time. I’ve wanted to do it... and I am.”
Today I’m gonna be myself
Today, Copyright 2006 Ben Beckendorf