The cover shot of Bentley’s latest album, “Livin’ on Dry Land,” taken at the John Muir hut at Muir Pass.
Local musician offers songwriting workshop at Cerro Coso
I guess you’d have to call Bishop’s Grant Bentley a bit of a renaissance man.
When he’s not telecommuting to his day job at Hewlett Packard, Grant is either appearing on a local stage (he recently finished a three-week run as Inspector Hubbard in Mammoth Lakes Repertory’s Dial M for Murder), spending time with his wife and daughter, or making music.
It’s the latter avocation which will be featured Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Cerro Coso College in Bishop (Room 176), where Bentley will appear as the latest presenter in the College’s new Lecture Series: Artists, Scholars & Writers.
The lecture series was conceived by College President Deanna Campbell, Adjunct Professor Rick Frey and noted local author Eva Poole-Gilson.
John Dittli kicked off the series earlier this year with a photography presentation.
Bentley said he has been writing songs for about a decade. “I was a member of the Northern California Songwriters Assn., and I learned a lot being part of that group,” he said.
About five years ago, he started producing his own work with the help of his brother, a multi-instrumentalist who boasts extensive studio experience.
Overall, he has completed three albums, which can be found at www.grantbentley.com.
Locally, Bentley can often be found playing the Side Door Cafe in Mammoth on Sundays and Thursdays and at Thai Thai Restaurant in Bishop a couple of Saturday nights a month.
So how did Bentley get into songwriting? Well, as he says, there are no entrance requirements. “Songwriting is open to anybody. The idea is not to die with the music inside you.”
One of his greatest inspirations is Marta Becket, the woman who restored the Amargosa Opera House (and then performed there in obscurity for many years) at Death Valley Junction.
In fact, Bentley wrote a song in tribute to Becket (Dancin’ Feet) and even shot a video on location to go with it (the video is posted on youtube and can be accessed through his website).
“Don’t wait for approval,” says Bentley. “Do it for yourself. For the joy of discovery. There’s no idea that doesn’t have merit if it comes from your heart.”
Bentley says the first hour of Tuesday’s workshop will feature a little performing and a little autobiography. The second half will focus on basic exercises to help people get started.
Poole-Gilson said the lecture series will take a short break and then resume next fall. “We’re open to ideas,” she said. “Who would you like to see present?” Poole-Gilson can be contacted at 760.872.2446.