Ben Rice review…December 28, 2018….

BEN RICE

WISH THE WORLD AWAY

DIRT ROAD HOME–PEACE WILL OVERCOME–RETREAT–MOJO HAND–WISH THE WORLD AWAY–THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY–HARD TIMES–IF YOU EVER CHANGE YOUR MIND–HIGHER GROUND–RUN AROUND–OH LORD–GET THERE–DON’T WORRY MAMA

Ben Rice is a triple-threat singer/composer/guitarist from the Portland, OR, area, reppin’ for the Cascade Blues Society, who bestowed upon him two of their prestigious Muddy Awards–one for Best Contemporary Act, the other for Male Vocalist of the Year for 2018.  For all his guitar and writing skills, that soulful voice jumps right out and grabs you.  His seventh overall release is entitled “Wish The World Away,” twelve originals and one cover that allows him to show off every weapon in his vast arsenal.  This set was laid down at Jimi Bott’ Roseleaf Studios, and Jimi appears on drums, also.  There are other fine musicians along for the ride, including Mitch Kashmar on harp, Dave Flieschner on keys, Paul Brainard on steel guitar, and Dave Melyan on drums.  Throughout, Ben plays a wide variety of guitars, and is equally at home with just his voice and guitar in an acoustic setting as he is turning on, tuning in, and plugging up in a band setting.

Things start off in a country-blues state of mind, with a shout-out to a simpler time, with “no cell phone reception, no satellite TV,” as we all take “The Dirt Road Home.”  “Retreat” is a poignant “it’s over” song, as “even a fool knows when the battle’s done,” filled with that fine pedal steel.  That theme is revisited later in the title cut, as Ben and guest vocalist, Nashville’s own Natasha GreyCloud, find our two woebegone lovers wishing for a second chance and a fresh start.

Ben channels the styles of Rev. Gary Davis and Blind Lemon Jefferson on our two favorites.  First, there is a strong gospel overture present as our hero, “tired and weary, with work yet to be done,” assures us that “Peace Will Overcome.”  And, in perhaps the set’s mot soul-drenched cut, Mitch Kashmar is on the harp in the lively, country-fied blues ’bout longing for an old-time-used-to-be, “If You Ever Change Your Mind.”

If you’re in the Portland area on Saturday, December 29, Ben Rice is playing with another of our favorite artists, the “Bettie Page of the Blues,” bass-playing, dynamite blues sister Anni Piper.  They’re gonna help ring out the old a few days early at Catfish Lou’s, making it a perfect time to get a copy of “Wish The World Away” from Ben on the bandstand, and enjoy one of the mot exciting young voices in contemporary blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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