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A mixtape from Ben

benleemixtape_200It’s a recent project by Australian singer-songwriter Ben Lee, not Ben Folds, though it does feature a track on which Lee is joined by Folds on Life As Unusual. The album features several other artists who sit in with Lee, including Zooey Deschanel, Sean Lennon and Neil Finn, and is a benefit for the Q’ero Project, which supports the Q’ero people of Peru, the last living vestige of the Inca people.

It’s available as a digital download on a pay-what-you-wish basis.

Of the project, Lee said:

After almost 23 years in the music business I never presume to know what is around the next corner, and I certainly didn’t see signing to Warner Bros. Records coming. The release of the mixtape project is a great milestone for me, as it has been in the works for over a decade. I’m looking forward to sharing the music with my loyal fans, as well as supporting one of my favorite charities, Inkarri, for their wonderful Q’ero Project.

Lee will release a full-length album, Love Is The Great Rebellion, later this year. And as you will recall, Folds, Lee and another Ben – Kweller – collaborated on a tour of Australia and subsequent album in 2003.

Reunion album slated for 2016

WindmillLaneRecording sessions are set in Ireland for February as Ben reunites with his 2011 touring band Sam Smith. Ryan Lerman, Chad Chapin and Andrew Higley. They’re putting together a collection of songs that Ben has been writing, inspired by the various “Rock This Bitch” improvs from live shows. A 2016 release is tentatively planned.

The sessions are to be recorded at legendary Windmill Lane Studios, most famous as the studio where the Irish rock band U2 recorded, as well as the Rolling Stones and Lady Gaga. Windmill Lane, an unassuming graffiti-laden building along Dublin’s “Rock ‘n’ Stroll” Trail, is one of Europe’s most highly-regarded recording facilities. (more…)

Major collaboration, album & tour this spring

Folds+yMusic_250Ben has teamed up with yMusic, an ensemble of six exciting instrumental musicians in their 20s and 30s with impressive credentials on both the pop and classical side. Ben’s “new band”, as he puts it, are putting the finishing touches on an album, to be titled So There (which will include at least parts of his concerto) and will be touring the US and elsewhere as Ben Folds & yMusic starting in mid-April; dates are still being arranged, though they’ve been booked to play the 2015 Bonnaroo Festival on June 12.

The sextet, comprised of violinist and guitarist Rob Moose, trumpet and French horn player C. J. Camerieri, cellist Gabe Cabezas, flutist Alex Sopp, clarinetist and multi-instrumentalist Hideaki Aomori, and violinist Nadia Sirota released their second album, Balance Problems, late last year. Each has also recorded solo or with others in every genre from classical to jazz and pop.

Ben heard about yMusic last summer and contacted them about a collaboration. (more…)

Music Row Named National Treasure

NationalTrustforHistoricPreservationBuoyed by Ben Folds’ efforts and a connection made last summer, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has designated Nashville’s Music Row a National Treasure.

The designation means that the trust will research and document the area’s historical significance and will develop plans to ensure its sustainability.

It was following a concert in Washington, D.C. last summer that Folds met with National Trust’s general counsel Tom Mayes, who offered the organization’s support in the face of commercial pressures on the area where it’s generally agreed the country music genre was born and raised. (more…)

Nationwide Insurance commercial

toddler_nationwide_250What’s that song again? Your ears don’t deceive you. The latest television ad campaign for insurance giant Nationwide features the 2008 Ben Folds & Regina Spektor song You Don’t Know Me as its musical soundtrack.

The 30-second spot is titled Toddler and it depicts dealing with adult frustrations, such as waiting at the motor vehicle office and enduring terrible service in a restaurant, by showing toddlers in these real-world grown-up situations to emphasize that good service, such as that which Nationwide provides, is everything.

Watch the commercial here.

Image copyright and courtesy Nationwide Insurance.