"Ben Bedford isn't gunning for poet laureate of Illinois but if ever there was an equivalent honor for a singer-songwriter he'd have to be in the running."
-Roy Kasten, The Riverfront Times-St. Louis
Ben Bedford delivers intriguing sketches of America, its individuals, their victories and their struggles. Poignant, but never sentimental, Bedford’s portrait-like songs capture the vitality of his characters and draw the listener deep into the narratives.
With his fourth album, The Pilot and the Flying Machine, Ben Bedford takes the listener on a philosophical, poetic, and powerful sonic flight. With his songwriting as erudite as ever and his guitar playing further honed and refined, Bedford enters decidedly new territory in terms of themes, sound, and arrangement with this album. While his tried and true singer songwriter influences, such as Townes Van Zandt and Patty Griffin are here, this album owes as much in inspiration to the piano playing of Vladimir Horowitz and Thelonious Monk, the theatrical songwriting of Kate Bush, and the open sounding jazz and classical recordings of the late 1950s.
“The Illinois songwriter is a masterful storyteller who can turn what seem like obscure historical references into engaging tales rife with vivid, stark imagery.”
–Erik Ernst, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Ben Bedford has proven himself to be a truly inspired and talented storyteller…” according to Arthur Wood (Maverick). Bedford establishes himself as a songwriter in the tradition of musical icons ranging from Bill Morrissey to Woody Guthrie, casting individual people in the theater of the American landscape. A true son of the heartland, Bedford dips into the deep inkwell of classic American literature and writes with the ‘old soul’ quality of his literary idols, such as John Steinbeck and Toni Morrison. In the past twelve years since the release of his first album, Bedford has played his songs for audiences all over the United States hitting notable venues such as The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Folkstage in Chicago, and the Fayetteville Roots Festival in Fayetteville, Arkansas. His music has received extensive airplay on folk and roots radio in the U.S., as well as in Europe, taking him overseas on several occasions for concert dates on the continent and in the United Kingdom. Notable dates there include Izzy Young’s famed Folklore Centrum in Stockholm, Sweden, Toogenblik in Brussells, Belgium, and The Green Note in London, England. All of Bedford’s albums have charted highly on the Euro Americana charts and the Folk-DJ charts with What We Lost also charting highly on the Roots Music Report charts. Bedford’s music has been played on National Public Radio’s Car Talk and was featured in The Sounding Board, the official newsletter of the renowned C.F. Martin Guitar Company. In addition to independent terrestrial stations, Bedford’s music has received extensive airplay from syndicated programs such as “River City Folk” (syndicated by WFMT), “The Midnight Special” (syndicated by WFMT), BBC-Scotland, and the SIRIUS XM station “The Village”, all helping to gain Bedford a wider geographical audience. In July of 2010, Bedford was named one of the “50 most significant Folk singer-songwriters of the past 50 years” by Rich Warren of WFMT-Chicago. The list also included such stalwarts as Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Anais Mitchell and John Prine.
Bedford finished work on his fourth album, The Pilot and the Flying Machine, which features Diederik van Wassenaer (The Underhills, Dietrich Jon) on violin, Ethan Jodziewicz (Sierra Hull, Darol Anger) on double bass, Kari Bedford on harmonies and was engineered by Dave Sinko (Punch Brothers, YoYo Ma, Edger Meyer). His fifth album, The Hermit's Spyglass, a concept album centered around Ben and his cat, Darwin, living in a small farmhouse on the prairie, is due out in September on Cavalier Records. The album features solo performances by Bedford and nearly half of the album is composed of instrumental pieces.
In May of 2018 Bedford was named one of the six Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk winners at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas.
2019 and 2020 will be spent touring in support of The Hermit's Spyglass.