First it was his six-year run as an understudy in Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular at the Venetian. Then it was the role of Johnny Cash in Harrah’s Million Dollar Quartet. Whatever character Ben Hale has played over the past decade, he has made sure to leave his mark. Now, he’s preparing for another starring role, only this time he’s just himself.
Currently based in Nashville, the Vegas ex-pat recorded his debut solo album Have a Little Cry alongside a swath of notable studio musicians, such as bassist Viktor Krauss, brother of singer-songwriter Alison Krauss. After studying audio engineering at Nashville’s Blackbird Studios, Hale paired up with producer Mark Rubel and songwriters Ross Lillebo and David Hopkins to craft the an LP he describes as “a little rattier and a little rougher” than his work in previous bands.
The singer will celebrate his collection on August 31—funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign and then matched by his team’s funds, he says. Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center will host the release party, featuring a powerhouse band comprised crack studio musicians including Kristen Hertzenberg, Nic Chamberlain, Paige Overton, Rob Whited, Joel Ferguson and more.
But don’t expect Hale to climb into a van and tour the nation anytime soon. The singer and guitarist says he’s focused on getting the songs into television and film, and might limit live appearances to a handful of intimate venues across the country
As for why Hale chose Vegas instead of Nashville for his release party, Hale says it was important to reconnect with his roots. “Las Vegas was my home for 10 years,” he explains. “I live in Nashville, but all my gigs are out of town, so I thought Vegas seemed like a good way to get back to home base. I also like to involve friends—I like a party.”
Ben Hale & Friends August 31, 7 p.m., $25-$45. Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz, 702-749-2000.