The Legendary Drummer for George Clinton & P-Funk
If there was ever a question if a young musician could effectively and effortlessly play true, authentic funk as well as embody the finesse of a seasoned jazz swing, drummer Benjamin “Benzel Baltimore” Cowan puts the question to rest by doing just that. The talented Baltimore native got his first taste of drumming at the age of 2, and has been gigging as a professional musician since the age of 15. As the son of the legendary trumpet player Bennie “The General” Cowan (from P-Funk, Gap Band, Rapahel Saadiq, to name but a few), Benzel was bred into funk music, so there was no doubt that he was destined for greatness within that genre and beyond.
Benzel Baltimore studied early with the likes of jazz greats like Dave Weckl, Steve Smith, Pat Patrillo and Horacio Hernandez. These formidable influences have made him the versatile drummer he is today. He caught the attention of world famous drummer Dennis Chambers so much that Chambers (himself a P- Funk vet) took Benzel under his wing and became his mentor.
Many people describe Benzel as the “young guy with an old soul” and “the positive, energetic personality wearing the big smile behind the kit” on and off stage. His energy on stage and his electrifying performances and improvisational drum solos landed him a coveted spot as the drummer for George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. He began with the group as an occasional guest drummer through the nineties (the highlight being his appearance at Woodstock 99), but was officially hired with the touring group around 2010.
More recently, Benzel performed behind T-Pain alongside his P-Funk cohorts, played behind Joss Stone in the United Kingdom, and was part of the band invited at behest of Vladimir Putin’s television station First Channel in Russia to perform at the White Nights of St. Petersburg televised event. He has performed behind Funk and R&B legends such as Sly Stone, Sheila E, and has played events alongside greats such as Robert Glasper, Meshell N’ Degeocello, Melanie Fiona, Robbie Coltrane, Pat Metheney, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Mumford and Sons, Noel Gallagher, Ghost Poet, and many others, some of which he appeared with on the famous British TV show Later with Jools Holland. Other credits include Byron Bay Blues Festival, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jazz a’ Vienne, and the Essence Festival. In addition, Benzel plays in many other bands besides his main gig with Parliament-Funkadelic. He is an active church gigging drummer in the Baltimore area, and also plays with his fellow P-funk members in bands such as Danny Bedrosian’s Secret Army, Michael “Clip” Payne’s 420 Funk Mob, and for Ghost Adventure’s TV Star Nick Groff and his Chicago based rap artist Less-On. Benzel recently appeared on the P-Funk Metropolis Boxed set album in which Benzel’s talents were well documented. In his many forays into the music business, Benzel has found himself performing in front of capacity crowds in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and armed with his drumsticks and a mean approach to his instrument, Benzel Baltimore proves to continue to be a driving force both inside the P-funk, and in the world of Drums in general as we know it.
BIO EDITED AND ADDENDED, (with additional additions written) by DANNY BEDROSIAN