Ben has been playing the piano since he was nine and during high school played in several bands as the pianist, bassist, or drummer.
After many years of being a drummer and bassist in a variety of bands, he devoted much of his time to working on his piano technique. In 1995 Ben Folds Five released their self-titled debut album; this was followed by “Whatever and Ever Amen” in 1997. The album produced many hits, such as “Brick,” “Song for the Dumped” and “Battle of Who Could Care Less.” In 1999 the band released their final album, “The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner,” which included the hit “Army.”
Ben Folds Five gained a strong following in the U.K. and Australia, with five singles making the national top 40 in Britain.
In his solo career, Ben has released six solo LPs. Ben also contributed to William Shatner’s album “Has Been” as producer, arranger, musician and backup vocalist.
In May 2006, Ben contributed three original songs to the Over the Hedge soundtrack, and also a cover of The Clash song “Lost in the Supermarket” and a remix of “Rockin’ the Suburbs.”
Ben became the first person to broadcast a live concert via MySpace. Ben’s most recent album, “Way to Normal,” was released in 2008 in the U.S. and became his highest-charting album ever, debuting at #11 on the Billboard 200.
In April 2009, Ben released an album that consisted of commissioned a cappella arrangements of his music from some of the country’s best vocal troupes, “Ben Folds Presents University a Cappella.” He was also an inaugural member of the Independent Music Awards’ judging panel to support independent artists. With all his talents combined, Ben makes for one tough judge that the contestants of The Sing-Off are going to have to impress!
The Sing-Off premieres on MuchMore Sunday September 25 at 7ET/4PT.
Check this out-June 21st at 8pm is the premier of Barenaked in Barbados which is our annual trip to the island where this year I swung from a zip-line with Suzie Mcneil, went diving for Turtles with Maroon 5 and…… hung out with Jennifer Hudson (Jennifer figured talking to me was adventure enough apparently). It’s TV magic, believe me. On the topic of Barbados, the island is musically famous for Rihanna these days but before that- Eddy Grant famously made the island his home and has played a part in some monumental musical moments. After moving there in the early 80’s and establishing his Blue Wave Studios everyone from Sting to the Rolling Stones have taken refuge within it’s walls at very important times in their careers. Above and beyond his recording studio he has of course also made an impact with his own music and while the world may best know him for “Electric Avenue” it was songs like “War Party” and “Police on my Back” that established him as a socially charged artist, and you KNOW you are doing something right when the Clash start covering your tunes.
Coco Love Alcorn is a Canadian musician who has been releasing albums since 1995. I know this is going to sound weird but she’s one of those artists whose talent is sort of a detriment when it comes to her music reaching people because her style is so eclectic. There literally have been times in her career when a record company has said “we love what you do, but don’t know how to market it” More often than you think, the music that is given a chance to reach the masses comes down to business decisions like that which is not a groundbreaking statement, it just means you have to search extra hard to find something that doesn’t sound like everything else…..if that’s what your ears crave. My guess is you are going to dig this artist, if you haven’t found her already.
Toots & The Maytals have been making music for a very long time; originally just the Maytals when formed in the 60’s they are one of the most influential bands in the history of reggae and ska. They have been covered by everyone from Robert Palmer, The Clash and Sublime, to Jack Johnson and No Doubt and if you can believe it Toots Hibbert along with the current incarnation of the Maytals are STILL touring. They will play Vancouver, Winnipeg and Toronto this July where you can buy their latest album loaded onto a USB key…… shaped like a joint, which is ironic now because back in the day Toots spent some time in jail for possession and the band knew they could never replace his voice so they waited the 18 months for his release. Check out the 1981 album “Knock Out!” and thank me later for your perfect summer sounds.
I recently found this old clip on youtube of Dave Grohl doing an acoustic version of Elton John’s Tiny Dancer on the Late Late show when it was still hosted by Craig Kilborn. Before he started playing Dave said the first time he remembered actually listening to the song was during the classic sing along moment in the movie “Almost Famous” and he wanted to recreate that vibe right there with the studio audience, on live TV, which basically just turned into 6 minutes of the chorus. So, it got me thinking what other artists might have covered this song and I stumbled upon a version by Ben Folds from 2002…..sadly neither Dave nor Ben once slipped in a “hold me closer Tony Danza” (it will never not be funny).
Look, if you ever find yourself in a bar or a club and there is a band playing music that you don’t recognize; it’s possible they are performing original songs and no matter how bored or drunk you might be—repeat after me: “I will never request Brown Eyed Girl”. I used to think this was a touring band myth that at some point almost every performing musician with an acoustic guitar gets asked (seriously asked) to cover Brown Eyed girl, I thought it was just an exaggerated story that is funny to tell, but not really true……. until it happened to me a few weeks ago. I looked around for the hidden camera, picked my jaw up off the beer soaked floor, politely (sarcastically) declined the request and plowed through the rest of our set with a little bit more contempt for one of the most recognizable songs, ever. I never though it possible to love an artist but feel hate in my bones for one of their songs, let alone someone like Van Morrison who is one of the greatest songwriters, singers and performers of all time…..but sadly, it is possible. Let’s listen to everything else by Van Morrison and not blame him for writing great songs, but blame ourselves for abusing them.
Hey, where did we go?
Posted: June 13th, 2011 | Category: Matt Tracks | Comments: No Comments
Tags: Ben Folds, Coco Love Alcorn, Eddy Grant, Elton John, Matt Tracks, matt wells, The Clash, Toots and the Maytals, Van Morrison