Ben Freed is my father, and I want as many people as possible to listen to his music. Music is his respite and his passion, constant companion, and pure artistic expression. These records are his labor of love--he creates them with no designs for recognition, only finding better melodies and more fulfilling collaborations with the musicians he loves. But the tunes he writes deserve to be classics.
I grew up with banjo warbling up the stairs into my bedroom, attending gigs in bar back rooms and libraries, and sitting in the center of warm jam sessions. My father collects people around awesome music, he gets the band together, he nurtures aspiring musicians. And his playing is excellent--even as a reluctant teenager I saw how impressive he was.
The music he writes is so recognizable as music made because it's necessary for him to create it. American Idle is an album written by a 35 year devotee of an instrument. He loves every sound that instrument can make, every genre it can be used in, every inventive place it's never been used before. He will make music with it until he can't anymore, and I'm sure that won't stop him either.
He started playing as an obsessive teenager recently rolling off a ventriloquism habit. His mother's banjo was gathering dust in a closet and he started spending hours trying to imitate Flatt and Scruggs. Though he pursued his father's profession of optometry, banjo was always his love. He's a respected member of the New York bluegrass scene, a columnist for Banjo Newsletter, and according to the New York Post, a "[rival of] the contemporary masters of the banjo (such as Bela Fleck)." His best musical achievement is playing the iconic driving banjo track from Raising Arizona (yep, that's him). Maybe he can sell some records here too.