Singer-songwriters team up and take over South Park Tavern
By Benjamin Dale
For any aspiring musician, the first career step often requires one essential ingredient: hustle. And BJSR’s got it in spades. When he’s not bringing his one-man show to bars and restaurants around Dayton, BJSR (aka Ben Rivet) makes his living playing music for yoga classes, recording other artists in the studio, collaborating on music videos and taking his show on the road.
Hailing from Lansing, Mich., Rivet came to the University of Dayton majoring in music and business. In college he fell in love with the city and has made his home here ever since.
After graduation, Rivet won a spot aboard the Carnival Victory cruise ship as a paid musician and began experimenting with the loop station, a device which allows him to record and play back his songs at live shows, creating the full sound of an entire band – without the band.
“I had plenty of time to sort of fart around with the thing on the cruise ship,” said Rivet. Now it plays an integral part in his live show, almost an instrument unto itself.
Upon his return to Dayton, Rivet began forming what would become his singular style. He has since maintained a lifestyle that allows him to pursue music full-time, without selling himself into “employment.”
Combining a voice that falls somewhere between Jack Johnson and Damien Rice with his technical chops on the loop station, Rivet owes just as much to the singer-songwriters of yore as he does to modern producers like Kanye West and loopmaster beatcrafters Ratatat. By borrowing the work ethic of a hustler, BJSR is constantly working and his fast-paced lifestyle is often exhausting.
“It’s taken a long time to distinguish not hustling from hustling,” said Rivet, “I try to maintain really strong relationships with my family and my girlfriend, and that takes up the rest of my free time.”
“Yoga makes me forget about my phone and my computer for a while, and it just so happens to make me look and feel better too,” he said.
Rivet’s unique mastery of the loop station technology separates him from the throngs of similar ambitious artists, and he has set his sights upon Chicago for the next step in his budding career.
“Dayton is home, it’s where I went to college, its where I learned I could do music for a living, but I feel like Chicago is my next step,” said Rivet.
BJSR is scheduled to play Thursday, June 30, at South Park Tavern with Bearkat, a singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas.
The two musicians are already acquainted – having met while BJSR was on tour and played a show together at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin. Now, Bearkat’s on tour and it’s BJSR’s turn to return the favor. The show will be Bearkat’s first in Dayton.
Bearkat is the stage name of Katy Pearson, a Maryland native who studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Growing up in rural Maryland, Pearson struggled to find like-minded friends who shared her passion for music. It wasn’t until moving to Boston that she came into her own as a musician and felt comfortable adopting that identity.
“The biggest shock was getting a group of friends that knew what I was talking about,” said Pearson. “People who were into the same music I like and finding out that there is so much music you can find on your own, without relying on what the radio is feeding you or the TV.”
Upon graduation, Pearson relocated to North Hollywood, Calif., where she recorded her first album, but “living in L.A., and the whole vibe of paying to play at a venue – the industry part of it – really got to me after a while,” said Pearson.
She heard the call of Austin, a town rich with musical and cultural history, where the scene is more accommodating to her particular taste, and decided to make the move.
“Austin treats their bands really well, they’re conscious of you,” said Pearson. “They embrace their country Texas roots but you meet a lot of independent musicians doing their own thing too.”
Getting involved in a city that has such a warm music scene allowed her to experiment with her style.
“Now I’m dabbling in the roots music, before it was just indie rock,” said Pearson.
She has teamed up with drummer Paul Starling for this tour, which spans the entire continent.
If you enjoyed Shivering Timbers when they played South Park on May 27, you’ll be pleased with the artists on Thursday’s bill as they bring an eclectic mix of influences and musical styles from all over the nation – proving Dayton holds its own as a musical hub. We have a vibrant, albeit underground scene to enjoy in this city for those inclined to do so.
BJSR and Bearkat will perform Thursday, June 30 at South Park Tavern, 1301 Wayne Ave. in Dayton. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5. Visit www. southparktavern.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer
and editorial intern Benjamin Dale at