"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, Darwin the Cat, and The Hermit's Spyglass:
"Out on the rise, west of the town, where the tall Needlegrass burns to the ground. We sit inside, together apart, and a window of light shines in the dark."
So begins Ben's and Darwin the Cat's day in the little old farmhouse ("The Hermitage") on the edge of the Illinois prairie. And so too begins The Hermit's Spyglass, Ben's 5th studio album. The recording is a small, quiet musical meandering over earth and under sky with Ben and Darwin at the center of the story. We hear the raggedy star-dogs harmonize in the gloom and feel the frost melt from the Locust branches as the sun rises above the horizon. We smell the early morning coffee as the Larkspur springs and the Buffalo Grass sways. We watch the little falcon dive with flashes of green and purple. We meet Ben and Darwin's neighbors in the eastern pasture: Festus the Mule and Sassy the horse. We contemplate the golden green of the March prairie sun and the power of an imminent thunderstorm. We sit peacefully while Darwin swishes his tail and talks to the sparrows through the window as quiet reigns on the green hill. So....Come kids of all ages. Come wonder-seekers and question-askers. Join us. Sit and ponder. See as far as you can see.
“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.
“The Illinois songwriter is a masterful storyteller who can turn what seem like obscure historical references into engaging tales rife with vivid, stark imagery.”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
In the past twelve years since the release of his first album, Bedford has played his music for audiences all over the United States hitting notable venues such as The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Folkstage in Chicago, and Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He's also played festivals like The Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas, The Fox Valley Folk Festival in Illinois, and the Fayetteville Roots Festival in 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. He's also played in Canada doing a Home Routes tour in Alberta and British Columbia. Bedford’s albums have charted highly on the Euro Americana charts and the Folk-DJ charts and his music has been played on National Public Radio’s Car Talk and 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 Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Anais Mitchell, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, and John Prine.
In May of 2018, Bedford was named one of the six Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk winners at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas.
Bedford has recorded five studio albums: Lincoln's Man (2007), Land of the Shadows (2009), What We Lost (2012), The Pilot and the Flying Machine (2016), and The Hermit's Spyglass (2018).
He will spend 2019 and 2020 touring in support of The Hermit's Spyglass.