Folding Benjamin

Fans of piano-rock singer/songwriter Ben Folds are not too thrilled about his latest tour with soft-rocker John Mayer. For proof, just look at Folds’ Myspace site; it’s littered with comments from fans decrying Mayer, like, “Hope to see you again soon, without Mayer,” and (our favorite) “John Mayer isn't worthy enough to hold your dumps.” You might chalk such a response up to jealousy, but it probably has more to do with Folds’ musical lineage than any real distain for Jessica Simpson’s on-again, off-again beau.

See, Folds first emerged as a star when his North Carolina three-piece, Ben Folds Five, broke out with hits “Brick” and “Army” – tracks that sounded like they belonged on contemporary pop charts but belied a subversive, punk rock quality that Ben and Co. wielded like a chainsaw in the ears of conformity (In “Army”: I thought about the Army / Dad said, ‘Son, you’re fucking high’). That tradition pretty much continued through Folds’ career. For every Billy Joel-inspired piano ballad, there was a “Satan is My Master.” For every heart-felt sonata, a rap cover like “Bitches Ain’t Shit” was waiting in the wings. Yet Folds fans know that this pianist has chops – the guy’s an utter genius on the keys and has a knack for finding beauty in the mundane. And the fact he doesn’t take himself too seriously makes his touching songs that much more believable. See Benji open for Mayer Wednesday at Sound Advice Amphitheatre (601-7 Sansburys Way, West Palm Beach). Tickets cost $30 to $54. Call 561-795-8883, or visit www.ticketmaster.com.

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John Linn