I was at Newcastle Gateshead Evolution Festival last weekend across 2 days we were treated to the likes of De La Soul, local heroes The Futureheads, Field Music (brilliant) Paulo Nutini, (Great MGMT cover) Ellie Goulding, (believe the hype, I was very impressed) and many more great acts.
On day 2 whilst the main stage filled up with what looked like 15,000 extras from an episode of Skins, I wandered to one of the smaller stages to see what the great promoters the Junpin' Hot Club had in store for us. The first act on at the thankless time of 1pm was Ben Howard, I hadn't heard the guy before but I was met by another laid back singer songwriter, who sometimes sounded like Ray Lamontagne singing Newton Faulkner and sometimes a little bit like Devendra Banheart but truthfully had a sound all of his own. Although unsigned I bought his 6 track CD These Waters and when I got home I started to do a bit of research. Turns out Ben is another surfing singer or is that a singing surfer? It seems that we have a number of successful recording artists that surf and I started t wonder what came first. I think in the case of Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), G Love and Ben Harper that they were musicians before they were surfers, but clearly Jack Johnson and Dovavon Frankenreiter were surfers before they were singers. Ben seems to get some kind of support from Quicksilver so that says to me that he falls into Surfer first category, so why does surfing produce such good artists I ask myself, is it the sea air having a position effect on the vocal chords, or does all that spare time waiting for a wave allow them to work on great songs I not sure but I don't think we have an other extreme sport at this moment generating the same number of talented musicians.
Getting back to Ben Howard I highly recommend that you check his Myspace page out www.myspace.com/benhoward and then click on the link to get the free track Three Tree Town in exchange for your email address, his CD is available at Amazon and I-tunes and is well worth the £4 or £5 it will cost you.