Adelaide’s winter has definitely set in, and to take the chill off the evening air, there’s some wonderfully warm pubs offering some excellent live music.
One of those pubs is The British Hotel (13 North Parade, Port Adelaide), which features Adelaide’s Ben Ford-Davies on a fortnightly residency.
Ben has just returned from a very successful European tour with fellow singer songwriter (also friend and manager) Ronnie Taheny, which he says was everything he’d hoped for.
“I was hoping music would take me overseas one day and finally it has; it was amazing,” he says. “I’m right into culture, history and architecture, so going to places like Germany and Netherlands was incredibly mind blowing for me. It was a paid holiday! I was playing music at night for fun and then during the day, getting out and about and seeing stuff. It’s the ideal lifestyle. It was a tour of a lifetime.
“It’s a very different style of crowd over there. I’m used to playing in pubs here in Australia and people want to hear the same stuff they’ve heard 100 times over, but in Europe, they want to hear something different, and they want to sit there and absorb it. I was getting encores for music they’ve never heard before; it was a real buzz!”
And while he was over there, he learned some quirks about the language, which he’s been putting into practice.
“The Germans have some really interesting phrases for language. One of my favourites was for the song that gets stuck in your head and you can’t get it out. They call it an ‘earworm’. So it’s a concept of a worm that wriggles around in your ear and won’t leave. A lot of their language is really descriptive like that. I loved that. I dined out on that one for a long time,” Ben laughs.
“There was a major study done by one of the orchestras over there to find out if there was another song to kill an earworm without itself becoming one. They came up with the theme from Gilligan’s Island. I’m yet to try it, but that’s what they tell me.”
Since he’s been back, Ben has settled back into his fortnightly residency at The British, which came about after he did some work at the Clipsal.
“I worked with Ash, who runs the British, on a Clipsal event. We were both doing hospitality at the time. After that, we stayed in contact and he ended up offering me the run at the British. I came along and played, and it went really well so he put me on a fortnightly residency that’s been going for over a year now,” he says.
“It’s great, because Adelaide venues don’t tend to offer such long term residencies. From a musician’s point of view, it’s not very logical to have six different musicians on rotation, because you can never tell the people when you’ll be back there again. Ash said fortnightly so we could build it, and it has built. It’s absolutely fantastic and it’s a great little venue too. It’s really warm. The way they’ve redesigned the place is brilliant. They’ve done such a great job, and Ash is doing everything he can to get everything going there, and it’s happening.”
And now he’s back in Adelaide, Ben wants to check out more live music, the quality of which he says he’s continually impressed with.
“I’m always amazed at the talent around here. Last year at the SCALA Music Awards last year, I won the song writer’s competition with Kelly Breuer. I was listening to all the songs that night and there were about 16 or 17 songs that made the final, and I was thinking, any one of these songs could win this competition. I thought I had half a chance until I heard Kelly Breuer sing, actually,” he laughs.
“I was stunned when we took it out together. Recently I heard Kelly Menhennett. What a great voice she’s got! And Kylie Brice is fantastic; she’s so proactive in supporting the scene. She’s really inspiring.”
But while he’s back and rocking Adelaide and The British again, Ben is eager to get back over to Europe and share some new music with the crowds over there.
“I’m planning my next European tour. Most of the venues over there said they’d love to have me back next year. Many of the dates are already booked, so I should end up with about 30 dates over two months, so that’s what I’m working on at the moment,” he says.
“I’m also writing. I’ve had my latest album, Papillon, out for about eight months now and I’m working towards the next album at the moment. I’ve got a bunch of songs that need to be finished but they’re in the same vein as Papillon, so it’s like a sequel. I’m not sure what’s happening after that. I’m heading in a bit of a funky direction, I think.”
We are looking forward to that!
And you can catch Ben Ford-Davies out at the Port at The British on Friday fortnights, before we lose him to the overseas adventures that keep calling him back.
By Libby Parker