BWW Review: BEN MOSS AND FRIENDS Is The Monthly Show To See at The Duplex
Something very exciting is happening these days down at The Duplex. Once a month Ben Moss is doing an evening of his original music and he is inviting his super-talented friends to come down and share the spotlight with him, and while the super-talented friends are, indeed, super-talented (and way fun) there can be no mistaking (nor any avoiding) the truth: It is Time for Ben Moss. Ben Moss is the exciting that's happening at The Duplex.
In every artist's life comes a moment when they and their career turn a corner and that moment has arrived. You can almost hear it, smell it, feel it, as, with each new song he performs, Ben Moss claims his place in the singer-songwriter community. That's what makes it all so exciting: we are getting to watch it while it happens. We are in on the ground floor. We are getting to see the creation of the next big thing. Ben Moss IS the next big thing in singer-songwriting.
The premise for Mr. Moss's show at The Duplex is a simple one, arising from a simple goal: last autumn Moss challenged himself to write one verse and one chorus of one new song, every day. The challenge met, he now has a lot of new music to unveil, too much for one show, so he is presenting one show a month in which he will debut a handful of Ben Moss originals and, for a little extra fun, he is inviting people from his gang of talented friends to share in his spotlight by bringing a little something of their own to the evening. In January his guests were Freddy Hall, Peter Smith and Heather Christian and his February concert was joined by Freddy Hall, Natalie Walker and Larry Owens (and though she did not perform on her own, drummer Britton Matthews' presence was keenly felt the entire time). It will be exciting to see who will join in the fun on March 21st at 9:30 pm -- I tell you that so that you can reserve your seats now. See Ben Moss in this intimate setting now, while you can, because one day the tickets to a Ben Moss show will be very expensive. Let's talk about why...
Starting with the obvious: Ben Moss is handsome - like, Instagram influencer handsome - and he is as engaging as a person can be, but without ever seeming as though he knows it. No, no, this is a man who is sweet and funny and kind, but who has retained the humility with which he was raised. He's casual and accessible and he's smart, with absolutely no affectation. He's walking around with every advantage that can be bestowed on a person, but he remains just a normal guy, probably usually found barefoot, in jeans and a T-shirt, giggling about something private in his mind that might fall out of his teeth any second, like a slot machine paying off a jackpot. You could probably know Ben Moss for many years and never really be sure what he will say at any given moment, that's the kind of wild card he would appear to be. In short, when you put him on a stage and shine a light on him, he lights up brighter than the light: it's the kind of magnetism that makes people want to be in a room with him when the light hits and the slot machine pays off, which it does, with regularity, even frequency, during his concert. He's an entertaining host who asks all the right question of his guests and then stands back, out of their way, to let them shine in their moment - which they all did, with Mr. Hall playing/singing his own song "Still, I'd Try My Best For You," Ms. Walker singing some Cranberries and Mr. Owens singing some Paula Cole. While the other artists are on, Moss gets behind the piano to assist them with any additional accompaniment or background vocals and he watches them work, proud of his friends and this chance to show their light.
In the final analysis, though, the brightest light on the stage at The Duplex is Mr. Moss, whose original compositions are ready to be recorded and released to the public. It's almost a little scary to think that one person put out this much quality product in so brief a time as thirty days, but every song Ben Moss sang was an entity unto itself. This wasn't an instance when you go to hear an hour of new songs and you can't tell them apart - they may have been written by the same songwriter (Moss does it all himself, no collaborators) but these works of musical composition stand on their own, with lyrics of so sweet poetry as to break the heart, mend it once more, and send it flying into the night. The evening of music heard on Saturday night was a cycle of songs that reminded this music-lover of the old days of record albums when you turned on side one and then side two and took the entire trip the artist wanted you to go on, like Tapestry, Paradise Cafe, American Idiot or The Wall. Several individual stories that combine to make one big one - that's the kind of music Ben Moss is creating, and then singing with a voice that makes you feel like Moss reached out, unzipped your chest, took out your heart and put it up on the stage in the spotlight. Something inside of Ben Moss is all-seeing and all-knowing because he may be writing these songs by himself but he is singing them for all of us; with that kind of insight and talent, one might expect him to be the kind of person who takes himself too seriously -- but just when you get that feeling, he pulls a face, makes a joke, or admits a flaw, making you champion him all the more.
That's the winning combination that's going to put him on a list with all the great singer-songwriters from the past who have, graciously, paved the way for the next big thing.
Ben Moss and Freddy Hall
Photos by Stephen Mosher