Independent artist takes road less travelled
Staff Report ~ 5/19/2010

After a decade in the music industry Ari Hest decided he wanted to take his career in a
new direction.
“I’d been with a major record label, but felt like I needed to be self sufficient and have more control of my music,” said the New York based singer-songwriter. “My thought process was that if I didn’t do something I might just get lost in the business and that it would be hard to continue making the music I want to make.”
In breaking out on his own Hest did so with an ambitious creative venture. Throughout 2008 he committed to the ‘52’ project, during which he wrote, recorded and produced and released one new song per week for 52 weeks in a row.
At 7 p.m. Saturday as the final show of Tonto Bar and Grill’s “On The Lawn” Spring Concert Series, Hess will not only play songs off his “Twelve Mondays” album, but also new pieces from his most recent project “Sunset Over Hope Street”, which will be released later this year.
For the New York based acoustic guitar player Cave Creek is a place where Hess has some familiarity.
“I was there last year and they really have the perfect setup for what I do,” he said. “They setup the stage out on the golf course and the people watching are sitting on the grass or the patio,” he said. “They have a good sound system and it was a very relaxed sunset show. The weather was perfect.”
The “Twelve Mondays” album represents the 12 tracks from the 52 weeks worth of song writing that fans chose as his best. More than 1,500 people paid a $20 subscription to participate. Along with getting weekly e-mails fans received access to a website, in which they were able to communicate with Hess about his songs and vote for their favorites.
While Hess said it was difficult giving up the decision-making power on the album he was happy with the choices the fans made, also noting that it was a good way to draw fans in.
“Overall I’m proud of everything I did that year,” he said.
Performing a mixture of pop and folk songs Hess influences also include his father, who was a jazz musician.
“I listened to a lot of records my parents had growing up from the Beatles, the Beach Boys and James Taylor. Vocally my biggest influences are Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder,” he said.
As for writing Hess said he tends to write the music first, finding a mood and then a melody before writing lyrics.
In completing the 52 songs in 52 weeks Hess said he had to really focus.
“I pushed myself to find things to write about,” he said. “I did a little more listening, finding out what other people were dealing with. Mostly I’ve written personal songs. It’s much harder to write about things that you haven’t experienced personally.”
For his latest album, set to be released in the Fall, Hess said he’s stepping in a new direction, with more orchestration.
Describing it as more ‘trip hoppy’ Hess said he uses a lot of strings as well as percussion elements.
As for the title the Brooklyn resident said he wrote much of the album from the top of his building.
“A lot of the songs are about how to deal with the passage of time on a personal level,” he said. “It’s about life’s progression. There’s a good amount of grappling with whether you should go with the societal expectations or just let things be and see what comes your way rather than pushing them.”
For information on Hest and some of his more popular songs such as “Broken Voices,” “Dead End Driving,” or “Cranberry Lake,” go to or
Tickets to Saturday’s show cost $12 for lawn seats and $48 for VIP tickets. VIP tickets include a $30 food and beverage credit to Tonto Bar & Grill. For lawn seats, go to or call 888-512-7469. To purchase VIP seats and reserve a table, call Tonto Bar & Grill at 480-488-0698.
Guests with lawn tickets may bring blankets and low-profile lawn chairs. No pets or personal food and beverages.