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Ari Herstand returns to campus

Alyssa Lamberton, Entertainment Editor
September 16, 2013
Filed under Entertainment

Many professional musicians spend their entire lives pursuing their passion. Actor and musician Ari Herstand is no exception.

Herstand returned to his home state of Wisconsin Sept. 6 to perform at UW-Green Bay’s Groovin’ Grounds, an event occurring the first Friday of every month at the Common Grounds Coffee House.

Herstand has been a professional musician for about eight years, but has been involved with the art for almost his entire life.

Offering a technique called looping, Herstand layers multiple instruments and vocals with the click of a pedal, all during the same live performance.

In addition to the vocals and beat boxing, Herstand also plays piano, acoustic guitar and trumpet.

While studying music education and classical trumpet at the University of Minnesota, Herstand played his first coffee shop performance, showcasing his own songs that had never been performed.

Herstand described this performance as his inspirational breakthrough moment. For the first time in his life, he felt truly connected to music.

“When I performed my original music, I realized that was something that really made sense to me,” Herstand said. “My heart was there and I realized that I needed to pursue that as a career.”

After that performance, Herstand left the University of Minnesota to transfer to McNally Smith College of Music, a contemporary music school in St. Paul, Minn., where he learned the business of making his way as a professional musician.

Since then, Herstand has played many different venues during the years. Although he has done arena performances before, he does a lot of coffee shop and living room shows.

Herstand says he gets something different out of every performance, but loves the more sit-down shows where everyone is listening.

“It’s fun being in front of thousands of people,” Herstand said. “But at the same time, I kind of enjoy the more intimate environment because I can connect with people one on one.”

Throughout his career, Herstand has reached several milestones. He said some of his most accomplished moments include selling out the Varsity Theatre in Minneapolis, moving out to Los Angeles, having songs featured on television shows such as “One Tree Hill,” doing his first full-national tour and playing at Hotel Café in Los Angeles, a venue he had aspired to play at.

Herstand also opened for Ben Folds, one of his favorite artists, who inspired his piano-playing style.

After managing his own career from the beginning with no label, as well as booking his club and festival shows, Herstand started a music advice blog called, where he reaches out to aspiring musicians in the business.

The website includes advice on how to book tours, sell out local venues, record albums or anything else a do-it-yourself musician needs to know to make a career out of his or her passion.

Herstand describes managing his music as running his own small business. Although it’s frequently a never-ending workday, he says it has allowed him a lot of flexibility to move and grow in his career.

Herstand’s Groovin’ Grounds performance was not his first time on campus.

Years ago, Herstand played with a band, also called Ari Herstand. In 2007, UWGB was one of the first colleges they performed for.

Kaitlyn Back, UWGB alumna, came back to the campus specifically for Herstand’s performance.

Back had previously seen Herstand perform in the area and said she had to see him again.

“The looping is the best thing in the world, and I really like his stage performance,” Back said. “He actually looks at the crowd and makes a connection and is always dancing and around. It makes the performance that much better.”

Kenzie Trezise, junior arts management major, agrees with Back.

Trezise has been listening to his music for about six years, and said that her favorite part is always the looping.

Herstand offers advice to any aspiring musicians.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t pursue music or that you can’t do it,” Herstand said. “Everybody told me I couldn’t do it. It’s not about becoming a superstar. It’s about making a living playing music and doing what you love. Your goal should be to make a living playing music, and don’t let anyone deter you from that goal.”

In addition, Herstand encourages anyone to go after what they are truly passionate about.

“There’s no right or wrong path in life,” Herstand said. “You make your own path — what makes sense to you and what is going to make you happy. A lot of parents like to tell their kids that there is only one path, and I’ve learned that there are many paths. It’s all about the journey.”

Herstand has also recently started his acting career, appearing in shows such as “2 Broke Girls” on CBS, “The Fosters” on ABC Family and “Touch” on Fox. He will also appear on Nicklodeon’s “Sam and Cat” for one episode in late October or early November.

Fans can to follow him on Facebook and Twitter, or visit his website at