America is a big country, with musical influences spreading far and wide, so you never know where you might discover a musician who puts a new twist on old styles in an unlikely place. Like Ben Prestage, a roots revivalist who last weekend brought his one-man band to the Riverfront Fine Art and Music Festival in Sebastian, Florida.
He’s a simultaneous multi-instrumentalist in a engineer’s cap with the voice of a freight train, unlimited energy and a rich repertoire of covers and originals. “Well well well,” he’ll say, taking a well-worn guitar for some roller coaster finger-picking or a slide thrill ride. Later, he’ll strap on his diddley bow: a cigar box, broom handle guitar with a single bass string for Slim Harpo’s “Hip Shake,” which inspires many hips to shake and feet to stomp.
Next thing you know he’ll be “Honky Tonkin’” just like Hank did. Or taking you along to a back country porch for Robert Johnson‘s “Preachin’ Blues.” Now he’s all over an electric guitar, introducing himself as the drummer as he works a five-piece kit with his feet, while blowing bluesy harmonica riffs. He’ll switch over to a lap steel guitar, or dobro, or hit you with some bluegrass on a cigar box fiddle.
It’s no surprise that Prestage is winning fans throughout Florida, the South, up the Atlantic coast a ways and even over the big pond. Let’s hope his southern swamp boogie blast makes its way to Chicago. In the meantime, check out his website for some impressive video and more. Here’s the link.