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Ben Prestage - One Crow Murder

Self Release


Ben Prestage gives a new and refreshing life to the term “one-man-band”. What he conjures up here is a band sound in the truest sense of the word. His foot-drums provide varying rhythm patterns in the course of one song. The beats he uses are never steady during the course of a song, thus conveying a sense of movement. This along with the creative patterns he attains on his guitars and harmonicas that baffles one’s ear to realize all this juxtaposition of sounds is emanating from one creative mind. And from what I understand with minimum over-dubs. He has absorbed various forms of American roots music over the years and applies it to his music. Elements of blues, folk, ragtime and old-timey music are fused into the sounds he produces.

Ben’s early and later life was one long music history lesson. His great grandmother was a vaudeville musician who toured with Al Jolson as well as participating in medicine shows. Her daughter was a boogie-woogie piano player who played for Ben when he was a youngster. His grandfather and father enlightened him to blues music as well as the sounds and culture of Mississippi in general. Ben then continued his musical upbringing in rural Florida and later as a street busker on Beale Street in Memphis.

His rough-hewn and throaty voice lends a quality of otherworldliness to the songs as it spews out the creative lyrics that hold the listeners’ attention. Lap steel guitar almost sounds like a second voice in his able hands as it careens through his songs. Occasional rudimentary harmonica adds another sound to move the tunes along. The sound he ends up with is far from the monotonous plodding one some might associate with one-man- bands.

The lead-in song, “Tell The Devil I’m Gone”, gets things going on the right foot(no one-man-band pun intended) with plenty of rhythm and some “snaky” slide guitar. Images of the city’s past and present are peppered throughout “I Wish I Was In New Orleans”, a song that benefits from a close approximation of a second-line drum pattern, authentic to the New Orleans R&B sound. In “One Crow Murder” the author comments on his status as a loner in the musical sense at least: ”I’m my own sidekick and partner in crime”. Here he is referring to the term for a group of crows, a murder, rather than something more ominous. His deft acoustic finger-picked guitar technique and use of tension and release make this an appealing number. Ben’s more ominous side is shown to great effect in “Shine, Moon”, which features his own background vocals, a thumping bass drum and some marvelously disjointed guitar work as he comments about the moon looking down on the various conditions on mankind. A cover of the Tampa Red And Georgia Tom’s “If You Want Me To Love You” offers up lyrical humor ending with: ”If you want me to love you and make me love you too you gotta take a butcher knife, cut off your head, mail me a telegram sayin’ your body’s dead”. Talk about asking too much of some one. He does a turn as a one-man jug band complete with kazoo on a cover of former member of Will Shade’s Memphis Jug Band’s Dewey Corley’s “Fishin’ In The Dark”.

Ben Prestage does a fine job of bringing the one-man-band into the future while fleshing out his sound. What we get here isn’t a museum-piece, but rather a traditional form updated with references to present day life. Over the course of eight originals and five covers we get to witness a craftsman at work. He is just as able on the upbeat tunes as he is on the more serious fare. A pleasurable alternative to much of today’s music is contained within. Before I go, a humorous footnote. I viewed an online video of Ben in which he introduces himself on each instrument of his one-man-band line-up.

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta. He is the proprietor of Bluesdog’s Doghouse at

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