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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.

Not really a show, but worth a mention

Ben Folds will take the stage, not in a tutu but as a guest musician at the Ballet Ball, a glamorous black-tie affair to support the Nashville Ballet. The gala is Saturday, March 3 at the Schermerhorn Center in Nashville. Patrons who contribute $500 or more enjoy cocktails, dinner and a performance by the ballet, accompanied by Ben and The Civil Wars, a Nashville-based duo whose debut Americana/folk/alt-country album has been nominated for a Grammy. The gala is followed by an evening of music and dancing by the Pat Patrick Band. Tickets are also available at $95 to the Late Party, including cocktails and dessert while the high-rollers are dining, enjoy the performance and dance the night away. Get more information on the evening; tickets are on sale. (And who knows, knowing Ben, he just might wear a tutu after all.)

Folds headlining Concert for Civility

Ben will be headlining the second annual Concert for Civility in Tucson, Arizona on January 15. The show is a major fundraiser for the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding, which was founded by the family of Ron Barber. Barber is the district director for US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and was among those shot during the incident on January 8 in which the representative was severely injured and six others were killed. The fund supports nonprofit groups, schools and faith communities in efforts to combat bullying, improve respective discourse on public policy and awareness of mental health issues. Donations may be made online.

The concert, at Tucson’s Fox Theatre, features several local acts including Calexico. Tickets go on sale today (November 18) and prices range from $30 to $75. The top tickets include a reception with Folds and Calexico.

Further info in this story in the Arizona Daily Star by Cathalena E. Burch.

Jackson Cannery for Japan

A special impromptu acoustic version of Jackson Cannery, with Ben playing guitar (and piano with his foot), was shown as part of the equally impromptu SXSW for Japan. The event, a 12-hour live stream of musical acts hosted by the rock band Hanson, is a benefit for relief aid to Japan and  took place today (Saturday, March 20) at the annual South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. Funds raised will go to the Red Cross to help victims of the earthquakes and tsunamis that ravaged the country.