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Ben’s Friends and Relations

New Darren Jessee album now out

Darren Jessee, former drummer, songwriter and vocalist for Ben Folds Five, has another new work of his own. Available today, Remover is described as an album that “redefine[s] the significance of quiet moments with grand consequence.” Indeed, the leadoff single of the ten tracks, Never Gonna Get It, is a quiet ballad about separation and loss, laced with dreamy orchestrations and gentle melodies.

You may recall that Remover was a name for a band that Darren put together in 2003 but was changed to Hotel Lights because another band already had that name. The title stuck with Darren, though, and resurfaces as the title of this latest work.

Remover is available through the usual digital channels and on vinyl. For more info, visit darrenjessee.com.

Majosha, then and now

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.

Gracie records album, opens for dad

pinkelephantGracie 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.

Kesha is Big New$

Ben Folds and Kesha, via her Instagram feed

Kesha, via her Instagram feed

The singer Kesha’s duet with Ben Folds of Bob Dylan’s It Ain’t Me, Babe at the Billboard Music Awards on May 25 has generated more than its share of publicity for both musicians.

It’s not just about the duet and the song, but rather the drama surrounding Kesha and her current disagreement with her former manager, Dr. Luke. Luke originally gave approval for Kesha’s performance at the event, but threatened to revoke it if she continued pursuing legal remedies against him. Rallying to her cause, Folds has been supportive of Kesha, who he has been friends with since 2010.

The performance, incident and ensuing brouhaha has attracted much media attention including these articles: (more…)

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.