New Ben Franklins
Noisy, melodic Americana
In speaking with David DeVoe, principle songwriter and singer of New Ben Franklins, he will tell you that the band has always been about “sonicness”. While this term may pique your curiosity and cause you to ponder its exact meaning, one has to go no further than New Ben Franklins’ latest full length release What Happens When Things Fall Apart to experience the NBF sonic experience. The shimmering cascade of sharp guitars is anchored by clean and driving bass lines, as well as the pleasing, throbbing rumble of drums on tunes like the title track and “Regrets”. For those who have come to love DeVoe’s exploration of the country music that embedded itself deep within his mind and heart while he was growing up, there are songs with galloping rhythms and a familiar Southwestern twang; “Home” and “Better Man”. And by the time you reach “Burning from the Inside”, you may truly understand the term “sonicness”; the way that all of these influences and sounds mesh and coalesce to create the New Ben Franklins' signature sound.
The band has played under the New Ben Franklins moniker since 1992, and there have been several changes in lineup as the music has evolved, but the lodestone of the band has always been David DeVoe. Tom Murphy of Westword described DeVoe's vocals as “...never tentative. He always sounds like he has something intense to say, even when waxing poetic about everyday struggles.” The smooth, clear tenor of his voice, coupled with the unwavering bass lines of Jeremy Ziehe, provide the anchor around which the lead guitar, played by Bobby Taylor, can swirl or chop or twang as necessary. Behind the drum kit is John Dennis, propelling the songs forward like a freight train and bringing a rumble to the music that the drum machine of 1992 never could.
New Ben Franklins’ live shows bring their “sonicness” full circle. Whether playing a
festival such as the FoCoMX or Westword Music showcase, or honky-tonking at the Skylark Lounge, you’re bound to get an earful. DeVoe will be the first person to call the live show “noisy,” but that doesn’t tell you about how you’ll feel when you’re rocking
along with the band, awash in distorted guitars one moment and then in the very next
moment swaying to the jangling telecaster he plays as though it were your oldest dance partner. And “noisy” definitely does not describe the annual toe-tapping tribute that the band arranges to honor the late Waylon Jennings; that show is straight up country gold. Waylon Jennings would be proud of New Ben Franklins. As the Nashville Rebel himself might say, they have “things to do, and things to say, in their own way.”