Monday, November 16, 2009

Ben Harper-Fool for a Lonesome Train

If you were to take a short walk south-west from CMC, walking along shady, tree-lined avenues and passing quiet houses, one would find themselves in "The Village," the oddly named "downtown" of Claremont, filled with restaurants, boutique stores, and the latest yogurt hot spot, Yogurtland. Although the Village is a great place to grab dinner or a drink, a gem is the Folk Music Center, owned by Ben Harper's parents (Ben himself is a Claremont native and his brother is a big fan of our archrival Pomona's soccer team). Although his suburban roots don't quite account for the soul and power of his music, one gets a better sense of his breadth and depth upon entering the store. Filled with guitars, sitars, banjoes, ukeleles, among others, the influence of growing up to parents who constantly had musicians of all backgrounds and styles come through  for shows and new instruments clearly shows in Ben's music. Whether playing a gnarly slide guitar solo or singing gospel, Ben Harper is one of the most talented and unique artists out there now.

 This Jam and a Half is a bittersweet tune of regrets, past loves, and mistakes. Ben sings as someone who can't quite settle, whether it be with someone or somewhere, and is a fool for a lonesome train, is a fool for leaving situations and people behind. He does so because he does not know better, that is who he is, and who he always will be. He recognizes who he is and the pain he causes (so far away, but I still feel your pain), but is satisfied with the live he lives. Struck with wanderlust and a yearning to go, this person might seem crazy but is "painfully sane." Sung with raw emotion and a perhaps even a vulnerability that few artists can convey, Ben sings as a travelling artist, here one day, gone the next, but gradually making his mark on the world...

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