Ben Prestage

When it comes to playing Southern blues, some musicians have a stronger ear for it than others. If you really want to play it, you need an inherent ability to hear the music. With regard to the banjo-picking and drum-thumping skills of Ben Prestage, he's got an advantage other musicians wish they had. He's blind. OK, not really. But his great-grandmother was a vaudeville musician who toured with Al Jolson back in the day, and his aunt was a pianist who specialized in Delta boogie blues. If it's not the traditional blues-inspiring disability, it's at least a solid musical jumpstart, especially since he maintains that the only type of music played in his household when he was growing up was the blues. It's no wonder Prestage has decided to pick up on the family trade and tour the country with his unique gutbucket-meets-Beale Street-style of bluesgrass. He doesn't dive into the backwater swamp-funk that you might expect from a kid with roots in Mississippi and Central Florida, but rather he creates his own rhythms, playing the drums and banjo at the same time. He's got the gritty backwoods appeal that blues lovers, well, love. So check him out, and see what blues heritage looks like up close and personal.

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Jonathan Cunningham