- Tue Apr 04 2017
- 7:00 pm
- Main Hall
- Ben Caplan & the Casual Smokers with Spencer Burton
Ben Caplan & the Casual Smokers with Spencer Burton
A charismatic charmer and a smasher of pianos. A madman and an earnest poet. A strummer of delicate chords and a lover of bent and broken melodies. Ben Caplan is not any one thing. As he releases his second album, he’s already gained a following in more than a dozen countries from Australia to Europe and across North America. It’s no surprise. Caplan is simply unforgettable; with his huge beard and unruly mane, he is as visually striking as he is aurally compelling. His rough and textured tones cut through crowded halls; an enormous voice, roaring louder than raucous crowds. The microphone looks almost superfluous. But looks are deceiving; once he has your attention, Caplan can croon smoother than a glass of single malt whisky, pouring beauty into a harsh world.
Inspired in part by Eastern European and Jewish folk traditions, Ben Caplan mixes older musical sensibilities with his own soul, straight from his hairy heart. Lyrically, you’ve not heard the like before. Often edgy and dark, Caplan holds a mirror up to show us our nasty bits, singing about the ugliness and showing us that this darkness is the root of the sublime. His new album, Birds with Broken Wings, explodes with sounds both ancient and modern, with more than 30 musicians and even more instruments, combining acoustic sounds from around the world. It’s all smoothly blended by the hottest international production team around. It’s uncharted territory, and Caplan’s leading the way.
Caplan’s backing band, the Casual Smokers, brings drums, double-bass, piano and, occasionally, melodica, to this thrilling musical mix.
Opening for Ben Caplan at The Great Hall, Spencer Burton’s story is that of the travelling troubadour; the roaming raconteur, passing from place to place, collecting and sharing stories with an aversion to permanence. With each stop on the journey, he leaves a piece of himself behind but acquires a new one to carry forward. Many of the songs and stories from Burton’s latest LP, Don’t Let The World See Your Love, stem from people and places he encountered on the road.
“I was just disappearing on my motorcycle,” he begins, “riding into the middle of nowhere by myself. Some of the album was written in St. John’s, Newfoundland; some was written in Peterborough, Ontario. One song came from Dawson City in the Yukon, and I think I even wrote one in Nashville.”