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Ben’s Friends and Relations

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.

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…)

Frog Trouble

Frog TroubleYou’ve seen the greeting cards, coffee mugs and calendars featuring anthropomorphic characterizations of animals in arrangements like “Hippo Birdie Two Ewes” and “Wee Fish Ewe a Mare Egrets Moose”. They’re the creations of artist and musician Sandra Boynton, also known for three gold records and a Grammy nomination for her humorous renditions featuring luminaries such as B. B. King, Neil Sedaka and Brian Wilson. Now, Ben Folds joins Boynton’s co-conspirators on a country collection titled Frog Trouble…and Eleven Other Pretty Serious Songs, now available in stores and online. Folds contributes a track called Broken Piano, a honky-tonk tune about a somewhat out-of-tune upright with eighty-eight keys, six of which don’t play. Besides Ben, musicians contributing to the album include  Alison Krauss, Brad Paisley, Ryan Adams and Fountains of Wayne. You can hear the track and view a behind-the-scenes video at Ben’s website, and purchase the Boynton album from Amazon.com.