Last Thursday evening we stopped into Marcus’ Martini Heaven to see our friend Ben Bruce perform. The venue is a basement pub in Pioneer Square on Yesler, part of the old Seattle Underground. There’s a spacious bar, with a beautifully lit wall filled with every possible alcohol imaginable, waiting to be served by a friendly bartender.
Ben set up his equipment on the small stage, grabbed his guitar and introduced himself to the audience. As he started to sing, my first thoughts were that he reminded me of Jim Morrison meets Cat Stevens. His melodic voice filled the room with “honest songs, honestly sung.”
His music is alternately raucous and raw, or restrained and melancholy. His songs speak to the heart, the lover in us all. He tells stories, like his “Face in the Fire,” which details a lonely fireside night and the revelations that followed. He played a short set to an appreciative crowd and then took a break to await the arrival of an accompanist for the second set.
After the break, his good friend Jenni Brown joined him onstage to sing a few duets. They opened with the old Eagles classic “Seven Bridges Road.” Their harmony was sweet and soulful, reminiscent of old folk standards.
They charmed the audience with their harmony and then at one point Jenni took center stage with a hauntingly beautiful rendition of “Over the Rainbow. “
In the third set Ben sang several songs directly to his wife, Erin, in the audience; songs of love and longing that touched a chord with all present. He sang about his young son and the effect he has had on his life, followed by a few covers of great bands ranging from Widespread Panic to John Denver.
It was a great evening; soft lights, good company, and Ben’s soulful voice warming us all through the Seattle winter night. For more information about Ben’s upcoming performances, or to download his songs, go to www.benbruce.com.