“That banjo attraction, and his continuing passion for music, keeps people shaking and moving to American roots music.” — D. E. Bentley, Honeoye Hometown News
Ben grew up in Honeoye, NY and became interested in music at a young age. Starting out on piano, he formed his first band, The Happy Guys, in fourth grade. College took him to the big city of Ithaca, NY to study geology at Cornell University. While there he co-founded the folk-funk outfit The Blue Lemons who made friends and fans from Buffalo, NY to Burlington, VT and continue to play today with one goal: to bring funk to the campfire.
The lure of experiencing earthquakes took Ben to Los Angeles in 2008 to study them. Fortunately, during the three years he lived there, he survived several quakes. Unfortunately, he didn’t feel any of them. His time in LA was not-ill spent, however, as he stayed active playing bass for the funk and soul band East Side Rhythm.
In 2011 Ben moved back to the Finger Lakes and was reunited with his old banjo. After years of gigging as a bass player, he came to the banjo with a unique, groove-oriented approach. He quickly found himself playing with, and writing songs for The Crawdiddies – a popular, Rochester-based acoustic blues group. In 2015 The Crawdiddies released their second album, Signal in the Static, including several songs penned by Ben, and a sound partially defined by his driving, mellow banjo tone. The album was nominated for the ‘Best of Rochester – 2015’ award.
Also in 2015, Ben and his old pal Matthew Sperber formed The Brothers Blue with their fiddling friend, Charlie Coughlin. The group writes songs and tunes with that old-time traditional sound: a soaring fiddle nestled in a tapestry of banjo and guitar. Their self-recorded 2016 release, Ghost Town, is a “well-honed, fine-tuned record that expertly cuts a piece out of the bluegrass lexicon,” according to Frank DeBlase of the Rochester CITY Newspaper.
Ben currently lives in Honeoye, NY where he teaches banjo, performs his brand of roots-based acoustic music, and records music made by his friends. When he’s not making music, he’s probably kayaking or hiking around Canadice Lake. His forthcoming podcast, Chester’s Attic, is an archival homage to the rich culture and history of music from Rochester and the Finger Lakes.