Ben Andrews plays with devastating ability with guitar licks of great complexity,
close to the origins of delta blues.He's blessed with a rich voice and an encyclopedic
knowledge of the music and the musicians who have left their legacy for us all to
enjoy. His stories about Huddie Leadbetter, Blind Lemon Jefferson, stories about
Willie McTell & Reverend Gary Davies.are almost as good as the songs.
|Ben Andrews At The Bullfrog 2002|
Photo - John Roberts
Born in Yugoslavia and adopted by American parents, Ben Andrews was attracted to
the guitar as a child. In the late '60s, he began studying classical guitar but his interest
waned until his parents returned to the United States in 1972.
"I had been exposed to the Beatles and Creedence before that," Andrews recalls, "but
when I came back I immediately found that what I really liked was folk music
and blues... I've always looked at it as the foundation of today's music, and I
found I could adapt to it easily because my fingers had been trained classically."
While attending high school in New England, Ben Andrews was exposed to a lot of
folk and blues music at various festivals, drawing inspiration from younger players like
Roy Bookbinder and John Hammond as well as the old masters.
Ben started his journey to delta blues in the dives and clubs of Washington DC playing
electric guitar in a band where he shared the stage with such great names as Muddy
Waters, Robert "Junior" Lockwood and Bo Diddley. It didn't take Andrews long,
though, to notice that the competition was stiff. "There are literally thousands of good
guitarists out there, so I thought, why try to do the impossible?" he says,
"So I began to build up a strong repertoire of country blues - I found that there was
something mystical about playing this music alone on stage".
For all his devotion to unvarnished country blues and the highly syncopated music of
Blind Willie McTell and The Rev. Gary Davis, Andrews does have a more progressive side. The title track of his debut album, "Night Ride," is a
moody, richly textured piece that recalls some of the more contemporary work of John Fahey,
Leo Kottke and Ry Cooder. Like much of Cooder's music, "Night Ride" seems well
suited to film sound tracks, an area that has always intrigued Andrews.
|Ben Andrews At The Bullfrog 2002
Photo - John Roberts
"Cooder is so good I can't really listen to him anymore," he says half jokingly. "I'm
afraid he'll influence me too much if I do."
At last year's top U.K blues festival, Bishopstock, Ben Andrews had reached
his rightful place - centre stage on the Bank Holiday Monday. After a superb
set, all his CD's went within twenty minutes, and the crowd waited patiently for upwards of
ninety minutes to have covers, programmes and memorabilia signed. The organisers
stated that they had never had that scale of reaction in Bishopstock's