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Ben Folds is widely regarded as one of the major music influencers of our generation. He’s created an enormous body of genre-bending music that includes pop albums with Ben Folds Five, multiple solo albums, and numerous collaborative records. His last album was a blend of pop songs and his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra that soared to No. 1 on both the Billboard classical and classical crossover charts. For over a decade he’s performed with some of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras, and in 2017 was named as the first ever Artistic Advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. In addition to touring, Folds is currently writing his first book, described as a collection of interrelated essays and anecdotes about art, life, and music. The release is slated for late summer of 2019. He is also no stranger to television, having been featured for five seasons as a judge on NBC's critically-acclaimed acapella show "The Sing Off," and continues to appear in cameo roles on cable and network TV shows. An avid photographer, Folds is a member of the prestigious Sony Artisans of Imagery, completed an assignment in 2017 as a photo editor for National Geographic, and was recently featured in a mini-documentary by the Kennedy Center's Digital Project on his photographic work. An outspoken champion for arts education and music therapy funding in our nation's public schools, in 2016 Ben held the distinction as the only artist to appear at both national political conventions advocating for arts education, and has served for over five years as an active member of the distinguished Artist Committee of Americans For The Arts.
Violent Femmes formed in 1981 as an acoustic punk band playing on the streets of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their main influences at that time were Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps and The Velvet Underground. Their goal was to rock harder than any other acoustic act on the planet. After being rejected for an audition by a local nightclub, the Femmes set up outside a Pretenders gig and began to play. Pretenders’ lead singer Chrissie Hynde asked them to open that night’s show, which gave the young band a publicity boost and caught the attention of Richard Hell, who invited the Femmes to open for him in NYC. A rave review in the New York Times eventually led to a record deal, which in turn spawned worldwide touring. Violent Femmes eponymous debut album became the first and only album in Billboard history to enter the charts with a platinum certification- eight years after its release. Over the ensuing three decades, the Femmes became a mainstay of festivals, clubs, and theaters in more than 20 countries worldwide. MTV’s “Unplugged” show was inspired by the Femmes, although they never actually appeared on it. Their raw sound and honest lyrical perspective have been cited as an influence by artists as diverse as Pink, Keith Urban, The Smiths, The Pixies, John Cusack, Mark Morris, and Wim Wenders. More than 30 years into their careers, Violent Femmes will spend 2019 touring extensively and have announced a new album to be released in late summer. $39 – $149