by KELLEY GUSICH | photos by Soul of Photography

Music in the Making

musician_powel2Ben Powell’s interest in music started at a young age. He built drum sets out of Tupperware and re-investigated his mother’s unused nylon string guitar. Ben picked up the saxophone in fourth grade before switching to drums in high school, continuously cultivating his love of music. Ben and his high school friends formed bands and did independent shows. Then, when he moved to Encinitas after graduating high school in 1991, he was all about skateboarding.

But the music called him back, and after an ankle fracture in 1993, Ben put down the board for a bit and picked up the guitar. “I was already writing songs but didn’t play guitar yet,” explained Ben, “I bought my first guitar from Russell at Moonlight Music.” His first and second gigs were in an alley by Stone Steps Beach and in Miracles Cafe in Cardiff. Now he’s a passionate musician, sometimes playing with his blues trio or his jazz swing group, but more often as a solo artist. “I make my living playing in clubs, bars, and restaurants,” Ben shared, “but I mostly enjoy playing festivals and being out on the road.”

Name: Ben Powell
Profession: Musician
Community: Encinitas
Interests: Music, travel, reading, writing, history, philosophy, and of course sports-talk radio
Favorite Spots in 92024: Honey’s Bistro & Bakery, Stone Steps Beach, and my backyard

musician_powel3A lover of all kinds of music, Ben eventually honed in on a favorite: music from the South made during the ’20s and ’30s, called country blues. He studied the genre and the iconic people who made it intensely. His favorites include Tommy Johnson, Blind Blake, Lemon Jefferson, Bo Carter, Fulton Allen (Blind Boy Fuller), and Willie McTell. “The music I now play is original but evolved from those blues,” Ben explained. “It’s acoustic music played with National resonator guitar, fingerpicks, and a slide.” He sings, plays harmonica, and foot percussion on a box he built himself – one-man band style. “I invented my own slide called the Tone Dome which is available on my website, along with my music.”

“I love the process of making music.” Ben shared, “Hearing a melody and then trying to work it out, or maybe it’s a chord progression that comes first – even lyrics.” Ben feels lucky to be an artist-dealer for National Reso-Phonic guitars, invented by John Dopyera, produced in Los Angeles from 1927-1941. Made of brass, steel, or wood, these were created to make the quiet acoustic guitar louder. “The ability to positively affect someone’s life to the point where maybe they contact you to let you know about it can be very rewarding,” Ben affirmed. Find Ben on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube by plugging in benpowellmusic.