Music is 'in their DNA'

Bellmore teens, Sons of Sound, impress beyond their years


“We were once told we’re too young for the blues,” said bassist James Bandini. “We’re gonna play it anyway.”

Members of the teenage band Sons of Sound were nervous on Wednesday night, when they performed their first live show as a group at KJ Farrell’s in Bellmore.

The trio consists of 12-year-old guitarist and vocalist Ben Goldsmith, of Merrick; 14-year-old Ben Bustamante, of Valley Stream, on drums; and 15-year-old Bandini, of Oceanside, on bass. The pressure of being young musicians kept the atmosphere tense for the band, they said, but they took the stage with confidence.

The band focuses on “soulful rock,” and covered songs Wednesday night by artists such as Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, as well as songs from Goldsmith’s own solo EP, “No Kidding.”

“Every song we play makes us better players,” Bustamante said. “More genres make us more open and change the direction we go in.”

During the show, Bustamante performed a minutes-long drum solo from Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” and Bandini strummed the bass in his own solo. Goldsmith ecstatically shredded the guitar throughout each song.

The trio met through School of Rock, a school that specializes in music education with locations around the country, where they practiced their skills and played a variety of instruments. Once they got together for jam sessions, they knew they had chemistry.

“It’s a lifestyle,” Bandini said. “Our free time is playing music.”

All three members of Sons of Sounds picked up their love of classic rock from their parents, who have played it for them for as long as they can remember, they said.

Goldsmith’s parents introduced him to violin at age 6 — but he immediately hated it, he said.

“They ended up getting me a bad Squire” guitar, he said, laughing. He went on to learn piano without training, and eventually became proficient with the guitar.

Goldsmith’s abilities on the electric guitar afforded him the opportunity to play on the School of Rock AllStars, a select group of young musicians. Joining the AllStars was a rigorous process, he said.

First, Goldsmith had to audition at a local school in front of judges. Next he had to submit a YouTube performance video to the School of Rock’s national headquarters and answer a variety of questions, and later, he performed another live audition in Pennsylvania.

AllStars is the highest level of achievement for a School of Rock student, with less than 1 percent of students making the program, according to the school’s website. Most students who are accepted are between ages 13 and 17. On Aug. 5, Goldsmith will join the AllStars at Lollapalooza in Chicago as a headline act.

Goldsmith’s solo EP, on which he wrote and performed, is also professionally produced. After legendary guitarist Steve Vai heard Goldsmith play, he introduced him to Grammy-nominated music engineer Greg Wurth. The two spent time in Los Angeles at Wurth’s recording studio producing, recording and mixing Goldsmith’s four-song EP.

Goldsmith describes the record as “soulful rock.”

“Every song on the album has something to say, and they’re all different,” he said. “Starry Nights,” for example, was inspired by a trip to Arizona, where the night sky was filled with stars.

“I know these kids have a future in music,” said Gingee Bustamante, Ben’s mother. “They eat, sleep and breathe music. They were born with it. It’s in their DNA.”

Because of their age, the musicians have noted times when they were underrated. “Some people think we’re just cute little kids playing guitars,” Goldsmith said.

“More Than Me,” a song on Goldsmith’s solo EP, is about that struggle for recognition. In the lyrics, Goldsmith expresses frustration because he is judged based on his age before he showcases his musical abilities. Music carries more meaning than the artists’ ages, he said.

The members of Sons of Sound are planning to record and release their own EP and will return to Merrick and Bellmore for future performances.