Whether Ben Harper is playing with the “Innocent Criminals”, “The Blind Boys of Alabama”, or “The Relentless Seven”, he is making some pretty amazing music. His style is as varied as his influences: Funk, Soul, Blues, Gospel,Reggae, Rock, and R&B, it all comes out in his music. He is renowned for his ability on the slide guitar.
Ben had a cult following in the decade of the 90’s and started to gain some commercial success in 2000 with the single “Steal My Kisses” from his album “Burn to Shine”. His expressive voice and varied musical styles offer his fans a kaleidoscope of ear candy. Another example of this is his stunning 2004 collaboration with the Blind Boys of Alabama “There Will Be Light”. With each album it seems that he further embraces his influences such as Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, and of course, Jimi Hendrix, while continuing to explore and expand his own.
To really appreciate Ben Harper, you must see him live. I have had this privilege on three separate occasions and in three different phases of his career. The first time I saw him was four or five years ago at Austin City Limits Music Festival. He was energetic and engaging and had the entire crowd of thousands completely enthralled. The next occasion was on his “Lifeline” tour with his backing band ‘The Innocent Criminals” at the Majestic Theater in Dallas. The tour was billed as acoustic and intimate and it was indeed both of those things. The fans were seated for the entire show and captivated by the music. The most recent concert was the 2008 Austin City Music Festival. He was touring with his new band “The Relentless Seven”. His hour long set was tight and focused on his new material from “White Lies for Dark Times”. He was in fine form and his new band sounded great.
Ben Harper Discography
- Welcome to the Cruel World
- Fight for Your Mind
- The Will To Live
- Burn To Shine
- Diamonds on the Inside
- Live From Mars
- There Will Be Light
- Both Sides of the Gun
- Live at the Twist & Shout
- White Lies for Dark Times
Top 5 Ben Harper Songs according to Butler (Albums listed to right of song):
- Amen Omen (Diamonds on the Inside)
- Having Wings (Lifeline)
- I’ll Rise (Welcome to the Cruel World)
- Excuse Me Mr. (Fight for Your Mind)
- Better Way (Both Sides of the Gun)
If you have never listened to Ben Harper, then I highly recommend “Live From Mars” as your introductory sampling. It is a great selection of his music and some covers songs from artists such as Marvin Gaye, Led Zeppelin, and The Verve.
Give Ben Harper some love and let me know what you think.
Ben Harper’s music is available is available on iTunes, record stores and www.benharper.com.
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