Miltown Malbay, County Clare
Facing the Atlantic, with the restrained tones of Vedder and a heart like thunder, Irish singer-songwriter Tony Benn wields peerless soft power that crosses swords with exertion, sincerity and hope.
A man of the 90s the Clare man picked up the wood and steel determined to carve out his own noise whilst the lads bounced to Britpop. Cutting his teeth in folk rock grunge bands in bars up and down the coast, a move to Dublin’s Ballyfermot school of Music coupled with tough authoritive years busking on the side streets of Temple Bar helped galvanise an already fervent talent.
In 2005 he punched his way into the Irish Top 30 with band Exploding Marmalade–but by then, standing alone, sometimes with friends, his mix of folk, looking West to Americana and melodic force was packing the likes of The Viper Room and Eamon Doran’s and drawing comparison’s with John Martyn, Cass McCombs and dare some say it, The Boss himself Bruce Springsteen.
In more recent years, Tony has set out on an intimate path with solo tours of Ireland, Canada, the American mid-west, the UK and mainland Europe.
His 2009 self-titled debut album pulled together a wealth of worldly wisdom and hard knocks into a deeply introspective but ultimately uplifting lo-fi alt folk experience.
Far from the like of contemporaries, his stripped down style on tracks like Smith and Black Horse owes more to Neil Young instrumentals and the quieter moments of Credence Clearwater Revival than by the numbers acoustic plastic emotion machines. A take-it-or-leave it honesty reverberates through Tony’s heartfelt fables; the multi instrumentalist leaves no where for the words to hide.
A strong soulful, voice at times almost shakes as he pulls himself back from the brink and raw energy is left to explode through his fierce guitar playing. I’m yours, a striking collaboration with talented songwriter and former Talking Head bassist Johnette Napolitano personifies this volcanic subtlety.
"Every once in a while, there is an event that should have never happened, but turns out to be one of the best there has been. Tony Benn's performance was one of those events. Tony had been scheduled to be back in Ireland on the night that he performed at Toad's Pub and Perk, in Overland Park, Kansas. However due to volcanic activity, his flights were cancelled and we were able to bring him into the establishment to perform. This was a decision that we will never forget. His performance and interaction with the audience is something that is a rare find. Everyone at Toad's Pub and Perk is awaiting his return to the states for another performance." - Josh Wilson (Scene Promotions)
"His music was simple, but powerful and sounded wonderful in our space. Tony's manner both on and off stage is warm and lively. He is able to draw an audience in, just as if he were speaking to each person individually, and his music reflects this same spirit." - Spark Contemporary Art Space / Syracuse, NY
"Absolutely adored him and he set off my record rings on Thursday nights would love to have him back. Tell him Angelina will make him tater tachos herself next time. Thanks for the excellent entertainment and my local musicians were honoured to play with them!" - Checkpoints - New Orleans, LA (USA)