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Full “Community” song surfaces

Community_200You probably recall either seeing Ben Folds pop up in a cameo role on the January 9 episode of the NBC-TV show Community, or you heard about it afterwards and are waiting for the rerun. There was also something about dropping money down people’s pants to the tune of – what was that? - Ass Crack Bandit??? Nothing out of place for Folds, whose repertoire includes such off-color lyrics as “Well, f*** you too!” as well as his cover of Dr. Dre’s classic B****** ain’t S***”. But the aforementioned song about currency and peoples’ derrieres ran during a network TV show, much to the astonishment and delight of viewers and critics alike. And although video clips have been posted online of the minute or so snippet of the song that aired in the episode, the full-length version remained in the vaults – until today, when the full version of ASSCRACK Bandit appeared on YouTube. Here, in all its three minutes and 56 seconds of glory, is the song you’ve been waiting to hear. So get your MP3 players ready for some intragluteal numismatics and a few chuckles besides.

Kennedy Center Arts Leadership Forum

Ben Folds will be one of the panelists for the first annual Kennedy Center International Arts Leaders Forum, to be held at the Washington, DC complex the weekend of January 31 through February 2.

The program is aimed at board members, managers and other leaders of institutions of the arts to explore the challenges and creative solutions present in the arts community today. Folds will participate in a session Sunday, Feb. 2 at 2:00 pm addressing issues affecting the careers of performing artists: pursuing artistic interests in the face of changing audience demands, building new audiences, embracing new technology, coping with changes at arts organizations, and building a meaningful career. Moderated by Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Mo Rocca, the guests will include jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard and Monty Python cast member John Lithgow.

Gilmore International Keyboard Festival

logo_2014festBen will be back in Kalamazoo this spring as one of the headliners at the 25th annual Irving S. Gilmore International Piano Festival, widely regarded as America’s most prestigious keyboard festival. Nearly 100 performances in venues around southwest Michigan will be featured during the three-week festival, ranging from jazz to classical and solo to musical theater. The list of artists in performance reads like a keyboard who’s who, with jazz musicians Barry Harris and Jacky Terrasson, classical masters Andre Watts and Emanuel Ax and nine-time winner John Legend on the schedule. Tickets for Ben’s April 26 performance go on sale February 1 through the festival’s website; see our tour dates page for more information.

Folds to perform at Ringo Starr tribute

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The David Lynch Foundation, a charity founded by the namesake filmmaker/TV producer/musician, has announced a concert honoring former Beatle and occasional railway conductor Ringo Starr with the foundation’s Lifetime of Peace and Love Award at Los Angeles’ El Rey Theatre on Monday, January 20. The concert will feature performances by Ben Folds, Joe Walsh (WB6ACU), Brendan Bensen, Ben Harper, Bettye LaVette and Dave Stewart. The show is being produced by veteran musician/producer Don Was, a Detroit-area native and co-founder of the iconic band Was (Not Was).

The event is part of DLF Live, a performance arts initiative sponsored by the foundation, which provides scholarships so endangered youth, the homeless, survivors of domestic violence and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to experience transcendental meditation therapy in an effort to make their lives better. Starr is a longtime proponent of transcendental meditation; his interest dates back to the late sixties when the Beatles studied under the storied Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and which influenced the Beatles’  transformation from the teeny-bopper genre to making magically mysterious music.

Folds has teamed up with Lynch previously, contributing a track to a DLF video and music compilation released on iTunes in 2011.

Individual tickets (at $1,000) are sold out, but tables and sponsorships are still available as of today.

Note: Due to an editing error, an incorrect date appeared for this show in the listing below and on the Tour Dates page. It has been corrected. The Magical Armchair regrets the error.

The “Piano Men” in New York



Singer-songwriter Billy Joel is probably most famous for his frequently airplayed hit Piano Man, about a fellow who bemoans his life as a bar entertainer and the steady stream of characters that inhabit the typical tavern. The term has come to be associated not only with Joel but also in reference to Ben Folds in an edgier way (I doubt Joel would throw a piano bench at the keys, for instance). While Joel’s style is more along pop lines, Folds’ is anywhere from balladeer to irreverently raucous. Despite their differences in style, Ben still credits Billy for helping to blaze the piano-pop path.

If you’re still in doubt about the similarities and differences between the two, you’ll have a chance for a consecutive comparison on New Year’s Eve. (more…)