If the names Eddie Walker, Evan Olson, Snüzz Uzzell and Millard Powers aren’t as familiar as those of Darren Jessee or Sam Smith, you’ll want to take a look back in the musical history of Ben Folds to his early days bouncing around the North Carolina music scene.
A feature article, A Ben Folds Lovefest, in the Greensboro, N.C. weekly Triad City Beat this week has a great overview of how Ben got into the music business, the friends he involved and met along the way, and some of the crazy gigs they played.
Reading Brian Clarey’s feature helps to explain the origin of many of Folds’ iconic songs like Army, where Ben drops out of school and forms a band which he subsequently gets kicked out of. It goes into Ben’s multi-instrumental abilities, with onetime bandmate Evan Olson describing how quickly Ben could learn a new instrument. And Olson’s not surprised at how many times Folds’ musical career has evolved, having realized at the time that Majosha was an “ephemeral project” but that it was time to move on.
The article concludes with a wrapup on what Ben’s original bandmates are currently up to.
There’s more about Ben Folds Five and the early days in our original Ben Folds Five website, still available using the link in the column to the right.
In what is probably a first for an American musical artist, Ben Folds will be leading a four-day music and culture tour of the formerly off-limits (to US citizens, anyway) island nation of Cuba next May.
Called The Ben Folds Havana Getaway, the tour takes guests on a trip around the capital city and environs, featuring a private concert by Ben and another performance with some of Cuba’s top musicians. Also included are visits to Havana’s art galleries, museums, architecture and cultural institutions, a tour in one of the classic 1950s American convertibles that Cuba is famous for preserving, cigar and rum tastings, and special events revolving around Ben’s passion for fine arts photography.
The event, packaged by Cuba Arts Live!, takes place May 25-29. Cost ranges from $3,199 per person and up, with a couples rate of $6,199, and includes ground transportation, lodging, meals, events and concerts. Participants need to arrange their own air travel, visas and insurance, which can be arranged through the event’s travel agent. Also not included are incidentals, side trips, souvenirs and any extended stay expenses.
Registration opens Friday, December 16 and there is a discount for registering prior to December 31. Full information can be found here.
Ben Folds will be touring the midwest this winter with a dozen dates in towns in ten states.
It’s a continuation of the Ben Folds and a Piano tour that started last fall. Most shows feature the availability of special VIP and Master Class packages as well. The Master Class packages include a piano class with Ben, meet & greet with autographed photo, early access for the sound check, beverages and other souvenirs. The Soundcheck packages include all of the above except the class.
Dates and cities are:
- February 12: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
- February 14: Green Bay, Wisconsin
- February 16: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- February 17: Bloomington, Indiana
- February 21: Columbia, Missouri
- February 23: Salina, Kansas
- February 25: Urbana, Illinois
- February 26: Knoxville, Tennessee
- February 28: Asheville, North Carolina
- March 1: Birmingham, Alabama
- March 3: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- March 4: Memphis, Tennessee
Tickets go on sale to pre-sale fan club members and the VIP packages generally on Wednesday, December 7 and general admission on December 9.
You can find details, including ticket links, on our Tour Dates page.
As part of a broad release by the independent record shops collectively known as Record Store Day, a new 10-inch vinyl by Ben Folds with yMusic becomes available in limited quantity (only two thousand pressed) on Friday, November 25 (the day after US Thanksgiving).
The EP, simply titled Ben Folds & yMusic In Concert 2015-2016, is on the New West label and assembles a handful of tracks of recent composition as well as one of Folds’ evergreens, and is described as
a live snapshot capturing electrifying “chamber rock” performances by Ben Folds and the immensely talented New York-based classical sextet ensemble yMusic.
For non-hipsters, vinyl records have grooves on both sides of the platter, unlike compact discs that younger baby-boomers and some Gen-Xers are more familiar with. Side A consists of Not a Fan, Erase Me and Capable of Anything. Side B features Phone in a Pool and Steven’s Last Night in Town. If you’re living in the digital world, December 9 is the date to watch for the downloadable version to appear on your favorite digital service provider.
Gracie Folds, Ben’s daughter, has a fledgling music career of her own and a five-song EP album to show for it. Released in August, the EP titled Pink Elephant features five songs that are very reminiscent of dad’s early material. Unusual rhythms, wryly cynical lyrics and discordant runs and chords run throughout the melodies, described by one commenter as Bach meets Aimee Mann. She plays piano and guitar and Ben contributes hand claps.
The album is available on Bandcamp for whatever you’d care to pay for it, and as a bonus, she’ll be the opening act at Ben’s shows in New Haven, Conn., Northampton, Mass., and Burlington, Vt., and possibly more, this fall.