Ari Herstand

Minneapolis songwriter from Madison
by Mike Huberty
August 2010

Ari Herstand

Ari Herstand

A Madison native that’s now based in Minneapolis, musician and songwriter, ARI HERSTAND, has been making his musical name touring on a remarkable solo live show that mixes the classic singer-songwriter elements of guitar and voice, that is infused with trumpets, live looping, and orchestration. His latest project is not only performing, but also conducting seminars in high schools where he discusses musical careers with students. To him, music education in school was key in creating his artistic identity and he wants to get that message across to the next generation.

He picked up the guitar for the same reason most guys do. “I’ve been playing the piano for as long as I can remember and I picked up the trumpet in the 5th grade for band class.”, Ari says. “The summer before my freshman year of college I was sitting around a living room with a few friends and my friend Danny came into the room with his guitar and played the room a song. When he finished, he set the guitar down and left the room. Two girls looked at each other - one of them my girlfriend at the time - and they said ‘guys who play guitar are so hot.’ And here we are.”

As an introduction to music, Ari recommends “Last Day” from his latest studio record (recently licensed by the primetime soap, One Tree Hill). He adds, “People should also YouTube the song ‘Float on By (Live at the Pause).’ This song showcases the looping that I do that has become the defining element of my live shows. It’s the fan favorite. It’s one of the first songs I ever wrote, but I have rewritten it many times and since I started working with the loop station it has taken on a completely different life. It’s a great introduction to what I do.” He also recently released a DVD called Live at the Pause where people can see see him bringing those songs to life, all the more impressive, because he can do it completely on his own.

His passion for passing on the musical torch is evident when he discusses the presentations that he puts on at high schools. “I’ve now gone into over 25 high schools around the country and have about 8 more just in Wisconsin. When I was in high school my guidance counselors were quick to steer me as far away from music as they possibly could. They not only discouraged a career in the music industry they told me that my chances of becoming a ‘rock star’ were about 4 million to 1 and that I had a better chance of becoming a professional basketball player than a professional musician. Clearly she had never seen me play basketball.” Ari continues, “I feel that it is important to tell high school students who are passionate about music that they can and should pursue music if they want. They shouldn’t let anyone tell them that music isn’t an acceptable career path. There are thousands of jobs in the music industry that they can use their love of music and the knowledge they’re gaining participating in music in high school to their benefit. There are more careers than just a performing musician or music teacher that most kids don’t realize. I go into high schools to encourage music students to pursue their passions and that if they work hard - very hard - they can do anything. It’s too bad most guidance counselors who get paid to guide kids tend to steer more away from their dreams, rather than nurture them.”

And the biggest question he gets?  He says, “I’ve been asked to prom a few times… many more times than when I was in high school!”

Ari is hitting The Majestic Theatre in Madison on May 16th and then The Warehouse in La Crosse on June 18th and if you check it out, you can definitely expect an “energetic and entertaining experience”. As a musician who’s out there on the road and making his living doing something he loves, he embodies his most valuable piece of advice for developing artists, “Don’t let anyone tell you not to do something you love.”

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