Thursday, April 01, 2021

Joe Bonamassa interviews Ben Folds on 'Live From Nerdville'

Running the latest news here on singer-songwriter/guitar master Joe Bonamassa, who performs via a global livestream from ACL tonight at 6 p.m. Pacific Time...Robert Kinsler

ICYMI: Joe Bonamassa interviews Ben Folds on 'Live From Nerdville'

Genre-defying singer-songwriter and piano legend talks William Shatner, Sara Bareilles and "Being Contrary" to the industry



In this week’s episode of Joe Bonamassa’s hit interview series Live From Nerdville, the guitar virtuoso talks with renowned artist Ben Folds who is currently in Australia! Intros start with their mutual connection, producer Kevin Shirley, before they dive into discussing the one and only William Shatner who recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Folds, who notes the iconic actor and singer as “complicated but artistically refreshing,” produced his 2004 solo album Has Been

“What was Shatner like? Considering that he just turned 90? What an international treasure he is!” – JB
BF – "Insane!

Ben Folds continues, "He’s complicated but he’s artistically just refreshing for a musician, because one he’s used to working on quick time frames so that’s really a difference when you work with an actor. He’s like well, the shoot is booked at 8 o’clock, I know my lines, let’s do this take and move on! And that’s really kind of amazing you know? We have deadlines but it creates an atmosphere for an actor, but it’s old school one. So, if I asked him to do something again, he would ask ‘why?’ Or he would do it differently than the last time. So, I would tell him that I need him to do it the same way so I could edit, and he didn’t understand that at all. Which is why it actually was good for me is because it reminded me that you only need that one. So, if you’re prepared for that, and know that you don’t have a second chance, that is the moment of truth! This experience really kept me on my game! I learned so much from him! I hung out a lot with Shatner and we’ve become friends, and, on our birthdays, we call or text each other and I would get a text or call with Shatner saying ‘Bennie, it’s Billie! Happy Birthday!’”

They two continue discussing the Shatner project along with the psychology and motivation around trying to find that perfect situation in capturing an artist’s raw moments. Joe, who has also done his fair share of producing, talks about his time with Chicago’s Queen of Guitar Joanna Connor, who scored a #1 album on the Billboard Blues chart with her latest release, 4801 South Indiana Avenue, which was produced by Bonamassa and released on his label Keeping the Blues Alive. Ben gets into his time with the multi-talented showstopper Sara Bareilles and they both share some tips, tricks and secrets they’ve found along the way. 

“The main psychology has to do with the self-perception when each artist. Self-perception is also the same reason why some artists will continue to make the same records over and over.” – BF

Joe and Ben go on to discuss their different upbringings, the ultimate battles of trying to get record deals, and how being “contrary” to popular music actually helps build an artistic and establish their career. Then, as both men are incredible connoisseurs of their instrumental talents, they round things out with an intriguing comparison of their guitar and piano collections that surely music fans will really enjoy. For more on Bonamassa’s deep discussion with Ben Folds about the pandemic, touring, Joe’s upcoming Blues Power Trio livestream at ACL Live, past performances at Carnegie Hall, the infamous songwriter Nick Lowe “The Basher” and everything in between that you don’t want to miss, catch the entire episode here

“You have to respect the environment of each venue whether it’s Carnegie or you’re just recording in your house.” – JB

Check out the full interview on Joe’s YouTube:

“Live From Nerdville” is a new interview show hosted by Joe Bonamassa featuring music legends and industry pioneers. Recent episodes have included Neal Schon of Journey, John Oates of Hall & Oates, Glenn Hughes, Paul Stanley of Kiss, Warren Haynes, Keb’ Mo’, Walter Trout, Steve Lukather of Toto, Bob Lefsetz, esteemed singer-songwriter Dion and more! In each 45 min episode, Joe and his special guest share their personal stories, discuss music, showcase gear, and talk life in the industry and more. With a new episode every Wednesday, fans can watch live on Joe’s Facebook and YouTube pages. All episodes are available on all major podcast platforms including Spotify, Google, Apple, iTunes, etc. Now in its second season, “Live From Nerdville” is currently booking guests for season three. For more information, please contact Cory at Big Hassle Media (

Ben Folds is widely regarded as one of the major music influencers of our generation, a genre-defying icon whose expansive body of work spans legendary pop albums with Ben Folds Five, multiple critically acclaimed solo albums, and an array of collaborative records. Folds’ most recent album, 2015’s So There, blended new pop songs with his “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra” and soared to #1 on Billboard’s “Classical Albums” and “Classical Crossover” charts upon release. Folds has spent more than a decade performing with some of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras and currently serves as the first-ever Artistic Advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. 

Along with frequent touring, both solo rock and orchestral, Folds published his first book, A Dream About Lightning Bugs (Ballantine Books), in 2019. A collection of interrelated essays, anecdotes, and lessons about art, life, and music, the inventive memoir proved a New York Times best-seller amid widespread critical applause around the world.

In addition to curating and hosting Lightning Bugs: Conversations With Ben Folds, Folds has spent much of the past year presenting live and taped virtual streams and recently began performing limited live shows in Australia, where he was on tour when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit in early 2020. The always-active artist has also begun preparations for a new TV series and hopes to perform a number of solo piano and orchestral tour dates upon his scheduled return to the US later this year.

A member of the prestigious Sony Artisans of Imagery, Folds is an avid photographer who has served as an assignment photo editor for National Geographic and whose distinctive work was featured in an original mini-documentary by the Kennedy Center’s Digital Project 

Folds remains an outspoken champion for arts education and music therapy funding in US public schools, with more than half a decade serving as an active member of the distinguished Artist Committee of Americans For The Arts (AFTA) as well as Board Member of AFTA’s Arts Action Fund. Folds recently served as Chairman of the Arts Action Fund’s ArtsVote2020 national initiative encouraging voter engagement in the 2020 US elections, and continually advocates for improving public policies for the arts and arts education.

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