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Underground: The Musical

We can be happy underground….

Every Ben Folds and Ben Folds Five fan knows that refrain and can sing every word about the motley crew that inhabits the underworld of pop culture in the 1990s – Officer Friendly’s “little boy” with the Mohawk, slamming the pit fantastic, nose rings installed.

Now, a theatre company in San Diego is collaborating with a local playhouse to premiere a musical featuring the characters and songs from Ben’s nearly thirty year career as a singer-songwriter. Aptly titled Underground, the musical is a co-production of San Diego’s Blindspot Theatre and the Coronado Playhouse. Blindspot’s artistic director, Blake McCarty, wrote the book for the show and works as the production manager for the Coronado Playhouse. The play has been an ongoing project for a decade, its genesis being a graduate project by New Yorkers Amy Cordileone, Donnie Tuel and Rachel Tuggle Wharton. McCarty had collaborated with Cordileone previously, and saw an earlier version of the show in 2015. During the pandemic, the group got together remotely to develop the new show, which Cordileone is choreographing. McCarty says the base theme of the show is the idea that there is good in everyone, a theme present in What Matters Most, Ben’s latest work. The show will feature bits of 40 or so of Ben’s songs, along with characters inspired by the lyrics. And rather than set in a conventional theatre, the audience will find themselves in a dive bar setting, at tables surrounding the performers in a sort of cabaret arrangement. Of Folds, McCarty says “He’s a musical genius, a musical savant who can use the keyboard as both a melodic and percussion instrument. He’s known for writing songs that are personal and full of pathos and humor that capture the quirks and depth of individual human experiences. Often he’s writing about his own foibles and flaws in a way that feels humanizing. But so much of his music is full of remarkable hooks that you can’t help walking away humming.”

Underground opens July 7 and runs Thursdays through Sundays until July 30. Tickets and more information can be obtained at 

Chicago Symphony and National Symphony shows cancelled

Ben has also had to cancel the June 9 National Symphony “Declassified” show as well. The Kennedy Center will issue refunds.

(Following was posted earlier.)

From Ben’s Instagram:

Hi all,

My Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert for Tuesday May 30th cannot go on because I’ve tested positive for Covid. I’m disappointed as hell, and I apologize to all ticket holders and to the CSO. I was packed and ready to go.

All in all, I’m alright. I’m pretty washed out, but luckily not nearly as bad as we know this thing can sometimes be. So, I’ll stay in and do promo and interviews for the new album which comes out on June 2nd, and as soon as I get my happy negative test, I’ll be out there touring. I have no reason to think anything else will need to be cancelled, but I’ll keep you abreast.


Solo album and tour slated for 2023

What Matters Most

After an eight-year recording hiatus, Ben Folds has announced a new album project, What Matters Most, due out June 2. The first song from the album, Kristine from the 7th Grade, was teased last fall, and the first single Winslow Gardens being released this month.

The album will be accompanied by a tour of North American cities including dates previously announced, spanning from April to August. Dates announced so far are on our tour dates page.


Darren Jessee, Ryan Lerman projects

There’s fresh action from a couple of Ben’s former sidemen, original Ben Folds Five drummer Darren Jessee and guitarist Ryan Lerman, who toured and performed with Ben in the post-BFF days.

Darren has announced that he’ll be at one of the first venues where Ben Folds Five performed, the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, N.C., on November 19. He’s opening for  Rose City Band, actually solo country rocker Ripley Johnson from Portland, Oregon. Darren’s picked up a few outstanding North Carolina musicians, has promised new music coming soon and “announcements right around the corner.” Tickets are $15 and are now on sale.

Meanwhile, Ryan Lerman, active in solo performances and touring in recent months, has teamed up with Boston vocal trio Tiny Habits on a cover of Plain White T’s “Hey There, Delilah.” It’s a stripped-down, very sweetly-harmonized vocal underlaid by Ryan’s strumming along with Greg Liesz, also on guitar. The trio met while students at Boston’s esteemed Berklee College of Music and, during the pandemic, discovered each other’s vocal talents via Instagram and decided to get together. Of the trio, Ryan says “if you don’t know Tiny Habits go down the wormhole. Their unison has been shown to reverse the aging process. Their arrangements are so special.” Their TikTok videos garnered over a million views, and they’ve been picked up by the cover site Stories to do a four-song set with Ryan and Greg. Check out more of their work on their YouTube channel.

Back to the Cradle

Cat's Cradle


When Ben, Darren and Robert first assembled as a band in 1994, one of the first places they unloaded Ben’s Baldwin was at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, N.C., the little town just down the street from Chapel Hill, home of the University of North Carolina (famous in song for Kate handing out the Baghavad Gita on Rosemary and Cameron Streets). The Cat’s Cradle hosted Ben Folds Five for the first time on February 10, 1995 as the fifth stop on a mostly Southern tour as the band was gaining popularity with each gig.

Now, Ben is returning to the Cradle on October 17 for a very special private one night only appearance in support of North Carolina Democrats. (more…)