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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.

If trees could sing


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In recognition of the many species of trees in Nashville’s Centennial Park and the role they play in our everyday lives, the Nature Conservancy has sponsored a series of short videos featuring some of the country’s top musical performers talking about their favorite tree. Ben Folds is fond of the sweetgum, a tree native to North Carolina, and he recorded a tribute to the species with many interesting factoids about it.

“Native Americans used sweetgum sap to treat their wounds, and when it hardened, they used it for chewing gum,” Folds said of the tree that can grow to over a hundred feet tall and which turns brilliant shades of red and yellow in the fall.

“Who doesn’t have a favorite tree?” (more…)

PopUp Brooklyn

popup-dinner-image-smBen Folds has been announced as the headliner for this summer’s PopUp Brooklyn do-it-yourself picnic dinner and fundraising event for the Prospect Park Alliance, a community effort to preserve and improve the storied greenspace in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. Advance pre-sale tickets for the June 28 event sold out in April but others can ask to be placed on the guest list and purchase tickets ($35 per person).

The concept behind the pop-up dinners is simple. At a predetermined time (5 pm) and at a secret location (announced to ticket holders two hours prior), revelers dressed in white gather to set up tables, enjoy dinner and wine they bring themselves, then music and revelry. After the event, everyone pitches in to clean up and remove their trash, leaving no trace of where they were in the park. (more…)

Ben performing on the Mall

NDOS_LogoWhen you think of service, you think of the waitperson who brings you your meal in a restaurant (or perhaps fills your gas tank, if you live in New Jersey). When you think of the Mall, you think possibly of the place where that restaurant is located, or a big shopping complex. Well, in this case “service” refers to the National Day of Service, founded by President Obama as part of his family’s commitment to give service to others. This year’s National Day of Service is Saturday, January 19, and volunteers all across the country will be giving of themselves to improve their communities and serve others. In recognition of that effort, Ben Folds will be performing, not at your nearby shopping center but at The Mall, as in The National Mall, the vast expanse of real estate flanked by the Capitol, the White House, and the Lincoln Memorial in our nation’s capital. Thousands of volunteers are expected to converge on Washington for the Martin Luther King Day weekend leading up to the inauguration, and many will be able to hear Ben’s performance. Ben’s form of service is his support of music therapy, a broad spectrum of assistive therapy involving music in all of its forms for the betterment of health and well-being, and he has partnered with The George Center for Music Therapy in Atlanta to help bring music therapy to those who need it.

Folds to perform for the President

Update: Item in the Huffington Post, with advice on avoiding the traffic snarls. Tickets sold out shortly after the event was announced.

Ben Folds will be one of the musical guests at a special gala reception for the President of the United States, Barack Obama, in New York on Thursday, March 1. The event, sponsored by Obama for America, is being organized by Deepak Chopra, Paulette Cole, Phil Suarez, Russell Simmons and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and is to be held at ABC Carpet and Home in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Joining Ben will be the Philadelphia-based neo-soul band The Roots and actor Aziz Ansari of NBC’s Parks & Recreation. Tickets to the event are $1,000 per person; an event host designation is $10,000 and includes a photo reception with the President; and you can be an event chair for $35,800. The majority of the funds, of course, go to support the President’s re-election bid and the Democratic National Committee. Ben has played within a stone’s throw of the White House a number of times, but as far as I know, this is the first time he will have performed for the chief executive.