The zen of Ben

Dear Ace: There used to be a singer around here named Ben Arthur. I had a mad crush on him. Whatever happened to him? (And, if you find him, could you give him my e-mail address?)—Jen Guinevere

Jen: Might Ace take this time to remind you that he is an investigative reporter, not a matchmaker? Nor, for that matter, is he a miracle worker, just in case there were any lingering uncertainties.

As for Ben’s whereabouts, he’s been pretty busy: tours in the U.S. and abroad; three successful albums; collaborations with Rachael Yamagata and DJ Big Wiz; five songs licensed by ABC to play on “Men in Trees” and two licensed by Showtime for a documentary; and he’s even written a novel (Ballad of a Burning Man, which is due this spring). Throw in his two little girls (sorry, Jen), and Ben says everything outside of work is babies, food or coffee.

But as for what he’s doing right this very minute, well, Ace couldn’t even begin to guess. Which is why he caught up with Ben via e-mail to talk about his latest projects. Turns out, Ben’s on his way back to Charlottesville this month for a gig at Gravity Lounge May 28. He’s been touring since March and will continue through May. This fall, he’ll be doing his usual tour through the U.K.

Ace was curious, as he tends to be, about what Ben has in his CD player, since he’s pretty focused on his own music and all. Ben said, “CD player!? What is this, my high school yearbook questionnaire? Jeez.” Cheeky though that may have been, Ace was still interested. Ben’s listening (on his iPhone, mind you) to “all kinds of good stuff,” including ex-Charlottesvillian Parker Paul, with whom Ben played a show in Columbus, Ohio, in March.

Actually, Ben used to play with Parker Paul (a.k.a. Paul Wilkinson) when he was a Charlottesville local (Ben attended UVA). Well, Parker and whomever else would play with him, like Keller Williams, John McCutcheon, Tim Reynolds, John D’earth and, as Ben says, “lots of other folks with a great deal more talent than me.”

Talent doesn’t seem to be something Ben has a lack of, but he’s still worried: “As an artist,” he says, “you wonder sometimes, if a song is saved on a hard drive and no one hears it, does it make a sound?”

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 18 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to

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