Ben Balmer’s business cards read Ben Balmer. Musician. Performer. All-around nice guy. There are few better words to describe someone who lives to jam while brightening people’s days with honest and compassionate music.
Born in the Detroit area of Michigan, Ben grew up singing along to his Dad’s old Motown and Chicago blues records as early as age 4. He started playing harmonica by 13, and was performing on guitar by 17. During high school, Ben became the lead singer and harmonica player in Ann Arbor indie-rock band Comatose Collin. Despite being the band’s youngest member, Ben’s “soulfully sweet” voice (as described by Detroit Metro Times) touched audiences with his surprisingly reflective and exposing lyrics.
By 2006, Ben’s song-writing skills landed him in Moscow, Russia when the University of Michigan hired him to write music for a theater production performed at the Chekhov International Theatre Festival. In 2008, Ben set out with his steel guitar and harmonica to pursue a solo career. In true musicianship, Ben cut his teeth as a performer while living out of his car and performing on the streets in the Southwest. He then shared a room with his 3 bandmates during a month-long tour in Tokyo, Japan. Since those street-performance days, Ben now makes his home in Austin, Texas and has played everywhere from Seattle and Vancouver to New York and Delaware, in venues ranging from seedy to suave.
Influenced by Paul Butterfield, Fiona Apple, Elliot Smith, Aretha Franklin, and Tom Waits, Ben’s songs seamlessly cover a mix of genres, from singer/songwriter to soul to indie rock. His blues harmonica and rootsy fingerpicking showcase songs of the most innate human emotions: the innocence of young love, the loneliness of travel and the dark sides of faith and addiction. According to Verde News, Ben’s lyrics “speak of the road, love, little joys and what seem almost like reworked parables of the way the world works.”calls his vocal work “charismatic,” describing how Ben adjusts to the feel of each song, “and as such, becomes not the feature of the song, but a true part of the music.”
Ben’s full length album, Dug In, was released in June 2012. In 2013 he first visited the Outrigger venue at the Nekkid Armadilla festival. He was an instant favorite of Palacios music lovers.