Outer Banks musician Christian Benedi is having a busy summer — and that’s OK by him. Throughout the year, he can be found performing up and down the beach — Fish Heads, Hurricane Mo’s, Trio, Outer Banks Brewing Station — as well as REAL Watersports on Hatteras Island, “but it slows down on the off-season,” he says.
His curly sun-kissed hair, bright smile and velvety smooth voice — he’s an in-demand voiceover actor and was on the air at Beach 104 for eight years — all complement his own musical style, acoustic beach rock.
“I realized a while back that my music didn’t really fit one genre, two, or three. It was an amalgam of, mindsets, moods and feelings,” Benedi says. ”Acoustic beach rock was born from late nights of playing music, all the while being under the shade of a beach umbrella.”
The crooner was late to the party in terms of finding his musical voice, but when he saw some of his friends perform in a high school variety show, he says, “it woke me up to music and live performances as an avenue of creativity.”
He had never picked up a musical instrument nor had he ever belted out a song in front of an audience, “but seeing friends get on stage, create music, and have fun was all the inspiration I needed.”
He was hooked.
“Ask either of my parents: I would wake them up playing guitar before school and keep them up with guitar before bed.”
Since then, he’s embraced his talent and let the music carry him where it would.
“I started out playing some gigs during the summer here on the beach, and that turned into more off-season opportunities. I kinda did the snowbird thing for four years: played summers here on the Outer Banks while waiting tables, and traveled to the Florida Keys for the winter doing the same. My last two years there, I was able to play full-time,” says Benedi, who also plays güiro (a Latin percussion instrument) and flexes his bongo-beating muscles when he can.
“I also play bass guitar, although, I totally play bass like a guitar player, if that makes any sense.”
He says he’s always wanted to play guitar like British rocker Mark Knopfler, who Rolling Stone magazine called “the most lyrical rock guitarist since Jimi Hendrix died and Jeff Beck gave up the game.”
“I can remember as a kid, driving to Avon on vacation in my dad’s ’85 Camaro: T-tops off, my ‘MacGyver’ mullet flapping in the breeze, and Dire Straits’ Grammy-award winning album ‘Brothers in Arms’ playing in the cassette deck, on repeat.
“Early music from Blink-182 was a crucial stepping stone in my development in learning how to play guitar,” he says.
“If you’re my age and don’t consider Sublime to be a major influence in your music, then I’m afraid we can’t be friends for at least five minutes,” he says.
“Seriously though, I’m a huge fan of the classic rock, and Oldies, and elements of that style of music shine through acoustic beach rock in every way.”
Benedi — who has an energetic 2-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever named Izzy and works full-time in ad sales — says it’s not always easy to find the time to feed his inner musician. But he’s learned to wrap his brain around having to accept fewer gigs.
“Some musicians really get after it in the summer. I have a huge amount of respect for the guys who can charge it, crank out seven gigs a week, pull doubles and never show signs of being tired. But, for me, music has actually gotten more fun by doing it less.”
He performs solo — primarily because he can’t commit to rehearsal schedules and additional bookings — but that works for him, for now, and for his audiences.
“As an icebreaker, I always tell my audiences a few fun facts early in the first set: No, I don’t have a man perm. Yes, I am aware that I sometimes bear a striking resemblance to Napoleon Dynamite. I have a 4.92 rating on Uber as a passenger, and I can kick a football 50 yards. Maybe I should play all my gigs in a romper for men,” he says with a smile. “I figure it could be pretty memorable to anyone who sees me play live, and I imagine the tip money probably would be pretty good.”