Ben Livingston

Please join us Wednesday 01.16.13 for another edition of Writing on the Air. We broadcast every Wednesday from 6-7 pm. You can catch us on your local Austin 91.7 FM KOOP radio station, or you can stream us LIVE on KOOP.org.

Host Francois, talks with musician & neon-light artist & renaissance man Ben Livingston. This show was recorded live on 12.05.12.

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Listen to the Interview.

A National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, Ben Livingston personifies sheer joy in the artistic process, coupled with a quick wit and self-deprecating humor, which audiences find refreshing and enlightening.

One such fan, the critically acclaimed Texas author Elizabeth Crook, encouraged Livingston to perform his songs for former and present Texas Book Festival Executive Directors Heidi Marquez-Smith and Lidia Agraz who then invited him to join the roster of musicians at the Texas Book Festival.

Given his prolific songwriting, in addition to maintaining an ongoing blog (spirithousesafari.blogspot.com), it is ironic that Livingston suffers from dyslexia, which hampers his own literary aspirations to read heavier fare. “It’s really hard for me to get through a long article or novel,” says Livingston, who counts many writers, journalists and “literary types” among his friends and fans. “It’s easier and so much more enjoyable when my big reader friends talk to me about interesting literature. Many of my songs are reflections of these conversations.”

The literary gig coincides with the release of his new three-song EP, Flesh and Bone, produced by the legendary Denny Bruce (Ike and Tina Turner, John Hiatt, Leo Kottke, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, T-Bone Burnett and Charles Bukowski).

While often compared to Terry Allen and the Texas singer-songwriter tradition of Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely, Ben Livingston is “not the typical artist that you associate with Texas” notes Denny Bruce. “He sees the whole world and universe with all the philosophy that comes with every territory and marinates that part of his brain with his life’s experiences strained through all the miles he has traveled both on the road and on his own inner highway. Mr. Livingston is processed differently than the other good ol’ boys in the Lone Star State.”

Leading the charge as songwriter and lead vocalist on both acoustic and tenor guitar and kazoo, Livingston will be accompanied at the Texas Book Festival by some of his usual suspect musician friends, many of whom appear on the EP, including: Dan Kaplan on harmonica; Bill Browder on electric guitars and harmony vocals; Glenn Fukunaga (Bob Dylan) on upright bass; Doug Powell on mandolin; John Hagen (Lyle Lovett’s Large Band) on cello, Franci Jarrard on accordion, Doug Marcis on snare drum, as well as Layton DePenning and Ray Benson (Asleep at the Wheel) on vocals.
Livingston and his band have played venues from Austin’s Continental Club Gallery and the Cactus Cafe to New York City’s Hill Country Barbecue and Indigo Gallery and North Beach Cafe in Kathmandu, Nepal.

When asked what the differences and similarities are between his songwriting, music and his art, Livingston explains, “My lyrics are exactly the same as my paintings – they’re allegorical stories that help me solve philosophical problems. My music and neon are similar in that they are more ethereal, floating around like clouds. If you look at my neon, you can touch it, but what it does to you is intangible.

It seems that people enjoy investigating these intimate kinds of nuances, but if you want the form and the story, you have to look at the shape of the words.”

© 2010 Ben Livingston, All rights reserved

Find out more about Ben by visiting BenLivingston.com and check out his new cd HERE.