I owe a great deal of gratitude to Pete Stein of Truckstop Coffee for turning me on to Ben Prestage. Truckstop Coffee came up to St. Pete for a show one weekend and crashed on my couch, and as the night wore on we were drinking whiskey, tellin’ lies and talking music, and the subject of Ben Prestage came up. I had heard the name but not the music, so Pete and Caleb were pretty adamant about me giving Ben a listen, and, boy, am I glad they were.
Ben is a bluesman/one-man band from down in the Everglades. He’s made a living as a Beale Street sidewalk performer, having shared sidewalk space with such names as Robert Belfour and Richard Johnston, and has also been voted in the top 3 bluesmen at the International Blues Competition in 2003 and 2006. His pedigree includes a great-grandmother that was a vaudeville musician who toured with Al Jolson and in medicine shows, a great aunt who was a successful Boogie pianist, and a great grandfather who was a Mississippi share cropper and is the person that added the delta blues sound to Ben’s childhood soundtrack, which became the backbone of Ben’s music. Incidentally, Ben is also the only two time recipient of the “Lyons/Pitchford Award” for “best diddley-bow player” and can sometimes be seen playing a cigar box guitar.
Sure, none of this means shit if the dude writes crappy music, I know. But come on…why would I have spent all this time propping this dude up just to be like…oh yeah, there’s all of that, but his music is boring. No. NO. I have managed to puck up two of his albums so far, Beale Street, which was recorded while Ben was still living up in Memphis, and last year’s ‘gospel and blues meets booze and a diddley bow in an Everglades swamp shack’ that is Real Music. The sound is, in a word: Infectious. Just check out “The Giver”, featuring the cigar box guitar (bass and guitar), foot drums (run through a serious of effects pedals), and a rhythm that will “leave bottles empty and dance floors full.”
Now, what’s it gonna take to get Ben up St. Petersburg’s way for a show?
From Beale Street:
Ben Prestage – The Giver
Ben Prestage – Memphis
From Real Music:
Ben Prestage – I Wish I Was A Catfish
Ben Prestage – Sloppy Drunk
Ben Prestage on myspace, Buy Ben’s Albums (you can get them as mp3…no wait!)