Ben Folds is rockin' the 'burg

October 01, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - Ben Folds' musical career has been anything but mundane.

Folds, 42, whose star was launched in the 1990s as the lead singer of Ben Folds Five, has been keeping his work varied.

Since 2008, Folds has been a solo artist. During this time, he's continued to put out albums filled with a range of styles, from unabashed sentimental ballads to punk-rock-laden up-tempo tunes. He's promised us he's been "Rockin' the Suburbs" and on the album of the same name did his own take on a Dr. Dre song whose title we can't publish.

On the side, Folds contributed to a William Shatner album and finished a project this year called "Ben Folds Presents University A Cappella" with college-level a cappella groups throughout the country.


Folds took a few minutes to chat by phone from Washington about his upcoming one-night stop Sunday, Oct. 4, at Shippensburg University. He said the night before, he had crossed off another musical accomplishment from his to-do list.

"I just played with the National Orchestra," he said.

Folds said he makes sure his approach to work is about the music itself. His most recent musical foray is writing lyrics based on the work of British novelist Nick Hornby who authored "Fever Pitch" and "About a Boy" that have also been turned into movies.

Folds said he likes the project-by-project approach to his career. He's considering his next possibilities - maybe writing a musical, or writing music for a movie, or putting another band together.

"Like some quasi-supergroup," he said with a chuckle.

"But I like the project thing because who knows what's going to come out?" he said. " ... I think that's better than just continuing every single time to just do what I do over and over."

It's also about the creative freedom.

"It allows me to be myself completely without thinking about what's going on. And something new comes out with someone else's input," he says.

Folds says he knows why he's there - to have a good time with the audience.

"I'm there playing a show, and there are people in the audience. The interaction is genuine manners, I think," the Winston-Salem, N.C., native says with a laugh. "It's like if you have a guest over to your house and they're in the living room. You don't walk out and say, 'Hello, people! Good night!" with a bunch of lights and smoke. I don't see it that way. I see (the concert hall) more as a living room."

If you go ...

What: Ben Folds Five with special guest artist Kate Miller-Heidke

When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4

Where: H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center, Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, Pa.

Cost: $40


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