Madison Concert Ticket Giveaway: Ben Folds 01.27.11

Ben Folds

“A collection of wry, tender songs that tackles subjects as eclectic as divorce and attack dogs. This is music for the generation that has seen it all, done most of it and is now sitting in the kitchen with a half-empty bottle, wondering what it all meant.” —The Observer on Ben Folds’ Lonely Avenue

Ben Folds, that chat roulettin’, ivory ticklin’ cutie, is back with Lonely Avenue, a new album of songs co-written with High Fidelity author Nick Hornby.   Despair never sounded so sweetly catchy.

We are thrilled that Ben will be making a stop here in Madison on Thursday, January 27 to share his latest work with area fans at Overture Hall, and we want to give one lucky reader the opportunity to see the show on us.  Read on to find out how that could be you!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Overture Hall – 7:30pm – $36.50 – all ages


Singer/pianist Ben Folds (born September 12, 1966, in Winston-Salem, NC) is best known as the leader of the power pop trio Ben Folds Five, but has also struck out on his own as a solo artist. Despite playing in bands in high school, his musical career didn’t really get off the ground until the late ’80s, as a bassist for Majosha (the outfit issued such obscure releases as Party Night: Five Songs About Jesus and Shut Up and Listen to Majosha). Proving his multi-instrumental talents, Folds also played drums as a session musician in Nashville. After relocating to New York, Folds started acting again (he’d done some theater in high school previously) and signed a publishing deal with Sony Music.

Moving back to North Carolina, Folds in 1994 formed Ben Folds Five, a trio that also included bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jessee. Whereas most alternative bands of the ’90s specialized in distorted teen-angst rock, the guitarless trio was a refreshing break from the norm, their sound akin to such past power popsters as Todd Rundgren, Jellyfish, early Joe Jackson, and such piano-driven artists as Billy Joel and early Elton John. But like punk bands, Ben Folds Five put on a high-energy, blistering live show. The band was signed to the independent Caroline Records shortly afterward, resulting in their self-titled debut one year later. Due to airings of their humorous anthem “Underground” (which poked fun at the politics of the punk/alternative scene) on MTV’s 120 Minutes and constant touring, quite a buzz was stirring for the band by the time of their second album.

Released in 1997, Whatever and Ever Amen was pure pop perfection — easily one of the year’s best releases and perhaps the best power pop release of the ’90s. The band’s songwriting and sound had improved even further, as evidenced by such gems as “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces,” “Fair,” “Kate,” and “Battle of Who Could Care Less,” plus their whimsical tribute to breakups, “Song for the Dumped.” But it was the ballad “Brick” that broke the band commercially — unlike the majority of their material, which was upbeat, the song contained melancholic music and vocals, as the lyrics told the story of a teenage couple who decides to get an abortion (it has been speculated that the tale was autobiographical for Folds). The single didn’t hit until several months after the album was released, which meant that the band stayed on the road for well over a year, playing with such notables as Dave Matthews, Beck, and as part of the 1997 H.O.R.D.E. festival — earning Whatever platinum status.

While 1998 didn’t see a new studio album by the band, BF5’s former label issued a 16-track rarities collection (Naked Baby Photos), as Folds released his first solo album, Volume 1, under the pseudonym Fear of Pop. Although the album went largely unnoticed, it included the song “In Love,” which included overly dramatic vocals from none other than Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner (comparable in approach to Shatner’s must-hear 1968 album, The Transformed Man) and which was performed on The Conan O’Brien Show shortly after the album’s release. Ben Folds Five regrouped with 1999’s The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, which was a more mature work than its predecessors, although the energetic lead-off single, “Army,” showed that Folds’ humorous approach hadn’t dulled at all. Folds officially went solo again in 2001 with Rockin’ the Suburbs. A series of EPs followed, with the new long-player Songs for Silverman dropping in 2005. He released Supersunnyspeedgraphic: The LP in 2006, followed by the full-length Way to Normal in 2008. In 2009 Folds contributed two songs to University A Cappella, a collection of covers of some of Folds’ best tracks by various university groups. Lonely Avenue, a collaboration with British novelist/essayist Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About A Boy), arrived the following year.

–Greg Prato,

WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS: Considering Ben’s recent musical collaborator is Nick Hornby, author of High Fidelity, we’d like you to list your top three music-related books.  Could be fiction, a bio, memoir….anything!  Post your response in the comments section below.

Please have your responses posted by Wednesday, January 26 at 6:00pm.  A winner will be chosen and notified shortly thereafter.  Good luck!

20 Responses

  1. Life by Keith Richards was pretty good

    I think it was McSweeney’s 6 that had short stories about music accompanied by a cd. Great. It was also titled “Songbook”. Somehow, Hornby was involved with that.

    Steve Davis’ “Hammer of the Gods” is a classic.

  2. Novels:
    The Commitments by Roddy Doyle
    Never Mind the Pollacks by Neal Pollack
    The Exes by Pagan Kennedy

    Coal Miner’s Daughter by Loretta Lynn
    Cash by Johnny Cash
    Just Kids by Patti Smith

  3. scar tissue – anthony kiedis
    down the highway: the life of bob dylan – howard sounes
    elliott smith and the big nothing – ben nugent

  4. Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Undergound 1981-1991 – Michael Azzerad
    Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story – Chuck Klosterman

    and one of my all-time favorites

    Love Is A Mixtape – Rob Sheffield

  5. No One Here Gets Out Alive
    Heroin Diaries
    I’m With The Band

    (Local- Let There Be Rock- AC/DC Susan Masino)

  6. Hammer of the Gods
    This is Your Brain on Music
    The Talent Code (not really a music book specifically, but a great book for any learning musician)

  7. When Clay Sings
    Forever Liesl: Sound of Music Memoir
    A Long Way Gone

    Can’t wait for the results of this. Would LOVE to see Ben!!

  8. Life is a Mixed Tape- Rob Sheffield
    Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist- David Levithan & Rachel Cohn
    Impossible- Nancy Werlin

  9. Cash: The Autobiography, because I love him so damn much.

    Last Train to Memphis, because it is the history of pop culture and music and life.

    Love Is a Mix Tape, because it reminds me of the first time I fell in love with someone for a song – and learned that not all love lasts, but the feelings from the music certainly do.

  10. Hidden Voices: The Orphan Musicians of Venice – Pat Lowery Collins

    Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain – Oliver Sacks

    Kurt Cobain: Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind – Jeff Burlingame

  11. War for the Oaks, Emma Bull
    The Commitments, Roddy Doyle
    Cash-The Autobiography, by Johnny Cash

  12. Wow. I have a lot of reading to do.

  13. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by True Endeavors, MJ Hecox. MJ Hecox said: Looking for a good music read? Check out the excellent suggestions from music fans for the Ben Folds ticket giveaway: […]

  14. High Fidelity – Nick Hornby
    This Is Your Brain On Music – Daniel Levitin
    Verses – Ani DiFranco

  15. Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina & Richard Farina

    Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation by Jeff Chang and DJ Kool Herc

    Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis

  16. Up and down with the rolling stones–Tony sanchez
    Wicked: the life and times of the wicked witch of the west –Gregory maguire
    Without you–Anthony rapp

  17. Wow! It’s so cool to see the wide range of themes as well as the repeated classics.

    The tix for this one will go to Lux. Congrats! Thanks to everyone for your awesome responses.

  18. Love Is A Mixtape appeared on here three seperate times. Shouldn’t definitely tell you something about how good it is.
    Writing now only to strongly encourage those of you that haven’t read it to do so.

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