About Ben Prestage
Ben’s great-grandmother was a vaudeville musician who toured with Al Jolson and in Medicine Shows. Her daughter was a very talented Boogie pianist who used to play for Ben when he was coming up. On the other side of the family tree, his grandfather, who was a Mississippi sharecropper turned Ben onto the sounds and culture of Mississippi and Blues in general. When I was growing up there was only one kind of music in the house. Whether it was being played on an instrument or an old recording, it was Blues. One day though, when I was about 14, I went to help a neighbor build a chicken coop on his property. When we went inside his house to eat lunch I asked him about a banjo I saw in the corner. He picked it up, and turned me on to Bluegrass for the first time. (He lived a 1/2 mile away, but it was so quiet out there you could hear that banjo all the way to my house if the windows were open.) He made homemade wine with my dad and when he’d come over he’d bring his banjo and show me how to pick with my fingers instead of a pick.” Later while living in Memphis, Prestage became a busker (street performer) on historic Beale Street. This is where he perfected his drum-kit. “I played out there a few times with nothing but a guitar and my voice. Once people heard me they liked it, but it was hard to get them on my side of the street with all the other music going on down there. There were some other guys out there who played drums with their feet, and they always got people’s attention. I started playing drums with my feet as an attention grabber but soon found out that the drums played with foot pedals actually enhaced my music dramatically. Not only were people listening and buyin’ discs, they were now dancing and hollerin’ to boot.” Ben’s interesting approach to instrumentation, songwriting, and singing painted on a traditional and personally historical background produce a vivid picture of tomorrow’s Blues and Americana. It has also led him to perform at venues as varied as American Southern music itself: From Blues to Folk festivals, from gun totin’ biker bars and juke joints to coffee shops and college campuses, from a Palm Beach multi-millionaire’s private party to a sidewalk downtown, Ben earns new fans wherever his music leads him.
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