Benjamin Booker

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Benjamin Booker
Benjamin Booker at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA (18 June 2014).jpg
Benjamin Booker at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA (18 June 2014)
Background information
Birth nameBenjamin Roderick Evans
Born (1989-06-14) June 14, 1989 (age 29)
Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • guitarist
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active2012–present

Benjamin Booker (born Benjamin Roderick Evans; June 14, 1989) is an American musician, singer, songwriter and guitarist. He cites The Gun Club, Blind Willie Johnson and T. Rex as influences.[2] His music was described by the Chicago Tribune as "a raw brand of blues/boogie/soul,",[3] by The Independent as "frenzied guitar-strumming and raw, soulful vocals that are hair-raising in intensity"[4] and by SPIN as "bright, furious, explosive garage rock."[1]

Early life[edit]

Benjamin Booker was born in Virginia Beach, Virginia. His family relocated to Tampa, Florida, where he attended all-ages DIY punk shows as a teenager.[5] He attended Orange Grove Middle School, a magnet school for the performing arts, followed by Hillsborough High School, where he studied in the International Baccalaureate Program. He then attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, studying journalism with intentions of going into music journalism.[5] After college, he moved to New Orleans to work for a non-profit organization and began playing shows.[5][6] He self-released the four-track EP Waiting Ones in 2012, a collection of "low-fi blues-influenced folk-punk recordings and handclap percussion" that gained the attention of music blog Aquarium Drunkard.[6][7] The track "Have You Seen My Son" eventually landed on Sirius XM satellite radio. In 2013, he began touring as an electric duo and signed with ATO Records to produce his debut album.[6]


2013–present: Benjamin Booker[edit]

Booker's self-titled debut album was recorded in December 2013 at The Bomb Shelter, an analog studio in Nashville. Produced by Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Hurray for the Riff Raff), the album was released on August 19, 2014 via ATO Records in the United States and Rough Trade Records in Europe.[8] The first single from the album, "Violent Shiver," was released in April 2014.[9] The album received early praise, debuting in the top 10 of Billboard's Alternative Albums and Independent Albums charts[10] and leading to Benjamin Booker being named an "artist you need to know" by Rolling Stone,[11] "the best of what's next" by Paste Magazine[12] and a "contender for rock record of the year" by SPIN.[13] Benjamin Booker also performed on late night television programs Late Night with David Letterman,[14] Conan[15] and Later With Jools Holland.[16]

Since release, in addition to touring with Jack White and Courtney Barnett,[17] Booker, accompanied by drummer Max Norton and bassist Alex Spoto,[18][19] has played international headlining tours and performed at a number of festivals. In 2013, he performed at FYF Fest, the Newport Folk Festival, the Austin City Limits Music Festival,[20] Voodoo Experience[21] and Lollapalooza, where Rolling Stone named his performance the festival's "best rock star moment... best experienced live and turned up to 11".[22] Internationally, he has appeared on the lineups of France's Festival Les InRocks Philips and Australia's St Jerome's Laneway Festival.[23][24]

2017: Witness[edit]

Booker's second album Witness was released on June 2, 2017. The album was announced with the premiere of its title track "Witness" (featuring Mavis Staples) alongside an essay written by Booker which detailed the experience that led him towards writing the album's title track.[25] The song "Witness" was called "a piano-pounding hymn for Black Lives Matter" by The New York Times.[26] The title track’s references to police brutality and activism garnered Booker coverage in politically-leaning outlets including Mic, which noted the album’s “urgent synthesis of blues, gospel and soul — forms with long histories of translating black pain into uplifting and enduring compositions … with a raw and unforgiving candor that's reminiscent of downtown New York punkThe opening track.[27] "Right on You" was shared on April 19 by The FADER which called it "a staticky, high-tempo ballad that packs a punch".[28] The third song to be released from the album, "Believe", was premiered by TIME on May 23.[29] Since the album’s release on June 2, 2017, WNYC has described Booker as “a punk & grit-infused songwriter whose ecstatic and soulful sounds channel vintage soul-rock, gospel, and blues.”[30] On June 19, “Witness” was shared by Pitchfork alongside a review saying Benjamin “makes retro music feel modern, reflecting on racism in America while drawing on blues, soul, and gospel.”[31]


Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • Live at Third Man Records (2015 – exclusively on vinyl)[32]


  • Waiting Ones (2012)
  • Spotify Sessions (2014 – Digital exclusive via Spotify)


  • "Violent Shiver" (2014)
  • "Witness" (2017)


  1. ^ a b "5 Best New Artists for August '14". SPIN. SPINMedia. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Benjamin Booker On World Cafe". NPR. NPR. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  3. ^ Kot, Greg. "Chicago Tribune A&E". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  4. ^ Bray, Elisa. "Austin goes gaga for superstars' gigs at South by Southwest". The Independent. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  5. ^ a b c "Benjamin Booker: Lost and Found - Noisey". 2012-08-20. Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  6. ^ a b c Woodward, Alex. "Interview: Benjamin Booker | News | Gambit Weekly - New Orleans News and Entertainment". Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  7. ^ "Benjamin Booker: Have You Seen My Son / Waiting Ones (Demos)". Aquarium Drunkard. 2012-08-20. Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  8. ^ Polk, Leilani. "News: Benjamin Booker signs to ATO, releases a track, plays Letterman". Creative Loafing. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  9. ^ Howard, Tom. "NME 20 Tracks You Have To Hear This Week (2/4/14)". NME. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Benjamin Booker's "Fierce Debut" (Rolling Stone) Arrives With Two Billboard Top 10s". Shore Fire Media. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Benjamin Booker". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  12. ^ "Benjamin Booker: The Best of What's Next". Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  13. ^ "Benjamin Booker - 5 Best New Artists For August '14". SPIN. 1 August 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  14. ^ "David Letterman - Benjamin Booker: "Violent Shiver"". Via YouTube. David Letterman Show. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  15. ^ "Benjamin Booker "Have You Seen My Son" 08/11/14". Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  16. ^ "BBC Two - Later with Jools Holland, Series 45 Live, Episode 4, Benjamin Booker - Violent Shiver". BBC. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  17. ^ "Courtney Barnett (updated dates, videos)". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  18. ^ "SXSW 2014 review: Kelis, Jungle, Benjamin Booker and Future Islands". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  19. ^ "Benjamin Booker is living the dream in a couple of ways". The Current. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  20. ^ "Line Up". Austin City Limits. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  21. ^ "Artists - Voodoo Experience". Voodoo Experience. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  22. ^ Spanos, Brittany (2014-08-04). "Best Rock Star Moment: Benjamin Booker | 40 Best Things We Saw at Lollapalooza 2014". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  23. ^ "St. Jerome's Laneway Festival Unveils 2015 Lineups". Pollstar. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  24. ^ "Benjamin Booker Tour Dates". Pollstar. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  25. ^ "BENJAMIN BOOKER | WITNESS". Retrieved 2017-05-24.
  26. ^ "The New Tracks You Should Hear". Retrieved 2017-05-24.
  27. ^ "Benjamin Booker shares 2 live recordings of urgent political blues from new LP 'Witness'". Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  28. ^ "Benjamin Booker's "Right On You" Examines The Darker Side Of Modern Life". The FADER. Retrieved 2017-05-24.
  29. ^ "Bluesy Rocker Benjamin Booker Debuts Soulful Track Believe". Time. Retrieved 2017-05-24.
  30. ^ Guitarist/Singer Benjamin Booker's Potent Cocktail of Punk & Soul, retrieved 2017-07-21
  31. ^ "Benjamin Booker: Witness Album Review | Pitchfork". Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  32. ^ "Benjamin Booker Live at Third Man Records". Retrieved 2017-07-09.

External links[edit]