Ben’s in tune for campaign

Blackpool musician Ben Barnett and Mark Ronson, left
Blackpool musician Ben Barnett and Mark Ronson, left
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A top saxophonist who performs in some of the world’s most exclusive venues has backed The Gazette’s Give Us A Tune appeal.

Ben Barnett, who was recently named Best Club Entertainment in the London Club and Bar Awards, has said the campaign – our bid to leave a lasting musical legacy in the resort – is a great way to encourage people to pick up an instrument.

And the former Arnold School pupil, son of Radio Wave founder John Barnett, has pledged to donate a saxophone to the appeal, as we ask Gazette readers to give 50 instruments and £20,000 to subsidise lessons at Blackpool Music Academy.

Ben first had music lessons when he was 10 years old. Now, at 29, he has used his talent to forge a career that sees him travel the world.

He said: “The appeal is a great idea. I was too small to pick up a saxophone so I played clarinet at first and then progressed.

“Then I didn’t play for years but when friends started to become DJs and promoters I started to play again and it grew from there.

“I started out playing in Poulton and Blackpool and now travel the world, having made a career from something I love.

“When I was at school I never thought I’d be able to have a career based on the instrument I chose to play.”

Ben plays freestyle saxophone alongside top DJs in some of London’s top nightspotS.

The 29-year-old regularly plays on the London circuit and has travelled to play gigs in 24 countries over the past two years, something he thinks helped him see off competition from 12 other nominees to win the award.

He has met famous names including producers Mark Ronson and Will.i.am.

Mr Barnett, who now lives in Chelsea, London, is working on a music education programme, to talk to schoolchildren about the virtues of taking up music lessons and focussing on arts activities as much as academic pursuits.

He said: “You don’t have to be the most academic person and you don’t have to come from a privileged family to succeed.”

So far Gazette readers have donated close to 40 instruments to the Waterloo Road-based academy.

To donate an instrument or money to the Academy, visit www.blackpoolmusicacademy.com or for more information contact (01253) 695398.