Ben Livingston is internationally known as a neon/light sculptor and inventor of an infinite phosphorescent color palette, which glows within his luminous tubes. This discovery won him a fellowship with the National Endowment for the Arts. Other honors include the Paul Waterbury International Lighting Design Award, where his (home made) animated "Neon Mural #1", (a downtown Austin landmark from 1986 - 2008)beat the statue of liberty in New York and his "Confabulating Orbits" an Austin Art in Public Places commission inside the Austin Convention Center. View Ben's Neon work at http://www.beneon.com.
More about Ben the songmaker - performer
Ben Livingston is highly reccomended by Terry Allen. In many respects the two are like minded souls. Although he is not from Lubbock he fits right in the row of specific artists from that city like Terry Allen, Butch Hancock, Joe Ely, Carl Swinney and the Ledgendary Stardust Cowboy. That means intellectual, opinionated, progressive, looking across borders and at times wacky.- John Gjaltema, Altcountry.nl (Netherlands)
“Ben Livingston claims the title of story and songmaker. Breaking apart the whole is the territory where Ben is King.”
- Danny McCloskey, The Alternate Root
“Known internationally as a neon-light sculptor, Ben Livingston won a fellowship with the National Endowment for the Arts for his discovery/invention of the infinite phosphorescent color palette. Trust Your Equipment (his debut CD) is almost equally inventive…..Some of his observations are pure Texas poetry.”
—The Austin Chronicle
"In a decade of journalism on art and architecture I have met no other artist with the charisma, determination, and buoyant delight in sharing knowledge and new perceptions as Ben Livingston. I believe many of his visitors will never be able to consider their communities just no-place ever again, but collections of strange yet explicable radiances worthy of study and respect."
-Eve M. Kahn, Freelance Writer for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker, NY, NY.
If you live near the Rialto Theater, go see Ben perform! He's creative, daring and, truly, himself! Plus, I love the Rialto, and so will you. Thanks for supporting two Texas originals! Love, Sara
What is not well known about Livingston is that he has been writing songs from his journals for two decades. Until 2010 his performances were rare, but their provenance was high. Opening for Terry Allen and Joe Ely for his first public appearance 1n 1994 at the Blue Star Art Complex's Jump Start Theatre in San Antonio, TX. Next stop was Nepal with his trekking troubadour companion, Jeff "Baje" Ragsdale. With guitars poking out of their backpacks, they called themselves the "Annapurna Rounders".
Livingston and Ragsdale walked and played their “Texas” music almost every evening in guest “tea” houses along the two hundred mile trail of the Annapurna 'Royal Trek' in the Himalayas to receptive, fun loving international audiences, including a summit victory performance shouting a song called “New Deli Freight Train” by Terry Allen at the top of their shortness of breath at 17,769 ft. above sea level on top of Thorung La Pass. Livingston and Ragsdale finished their tour with two very well attended performances in Kathmandu.
Most recently Livingston’s band, ‘the "That's what she said!" Boys’ (which included Jeff Ragsdale) played the Continental Club during the famed Austin, Texas music festival ‘SXSW’ to a standing –room only, with a line out the door crowd.
See review of the show here: http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2009/apr/03/td_neon_livingston_03xx09_43463/?entertainment
Following performances have been at the Corning Museum of Glass Museum in Corning, NY, and then back home in Austin with Bob Livingston (the ultimate traveling troubadour) of the famous Lost Gonzo Band.
The "That's what she said!" Band
Bruce Kirk - Bass 2009 - 2012
Music has been a constant companion for Bruce ever since he was 6 years old. The unlikely combination of classical cello amid the cornfields of America's heartland and exploration of medieval and Renaissance music on traditional instruments with his brother is what helped form his unique spin on musicality from the beginning. But all the way from his childhood to his moving to Texas, the magnetic pull of contemporary music tugged until it was time to heed the call. Austin welcomed Bruce to a bumper crop of fellow musicians and collaborators, where today he flourishes in a garden of sonic opportunities.
Doug Powell is a Mandolinist 2009 -
He grew up on Galveston Bay where he read music before words. His piano survived Hurricane Carla only to be destroyed by Hurricane Ike. He played mandolin in high school because no one else played mandolin. His heroes are Chet Atkins, Homer and Jethro, Roberto Clemente and Albert Schweitzer.
Kathy Rowell - Percussionist 2009 -
Kathy is quick with a smile and a hearty laugh.. She holds the band together in time like a fine Swiss watch... Ben endearingly refers to "Kat" as the band's beloved "Hippy Rolex". Ms. Rowell hails from Euclid, Ohio. She studied music at the University of Dayton. When Kathy isn't rehearsing or giging with the band, you can find her galavanting about town teaching drumming or out and totally emmersed in the middle of an awesom drum circle. This kid LOVES music!
Dan Kaplan - Harmonica 2011 -
There's nothing quite like his style of playing.
“Dan Kaplan tells more compelling stories with his instrument than most singers do with their voices. Kaplan is also a visual artist and by playing in the spillover between his two mediums, he finds an authenic and special creativity.”
-Vivian Nereim – New Haven Advocate
“The triptych Rosella/I Shall Not Be Moved/African postman is made of pure grace.”
- Soul Bag Magazine – Paris, France
About Ben’s debut CD - “Trust Your Equipment”
And his latest!
Trust Your Equipment
Known internationally as a neon-light sculptor, Ben Livingston won a fellowship with the National Endowment for the Arts for his discovery/invention of the infinite phosphorescent color palette. Trust Your Equipment is almost equally inventive. "Golfers Are Fat" and "Smart Fools From Art School" are Zappa-esque social commentary, but some of his observations are pure Texas poetry. The essence of Livingston's musical vision is lighthearted – he even attempts Tuvan throat singing on a couple of tracks – but when he gets serious as he does on the luminescent "It's All Water," he recalls James McMurtry with an extra twist of the knife. From blues-rock fiddler "Evil Spirits" to the soundscape jam of "11:11 Floor Elevator," Livingston's all over the place musically, but Trust Your Equipment marks him a true original.
- JIM CALIGIURI The Austin Chronicle
I heard this CD the first time driving in my truck out to a friends ranch to borrow some bolt cutters. It was cold brittle New Mexico day with wide windy vistas. I thought about a lot of things while I drove and listened...stuff like neon and Cambodia and Thai bands and the sudden impact of dead artists and Tibetan breath music and my old friend Butch Hancock's High Plains tuna fish observation can and Spike Jones and some Buddhists I know and care about in the Texas Hill Country. Driving and listening to music is pretty much my favorite religious experience, especially if the music hooks in with the rhythms of the tires and takes you further than just picking up some bolt cutters. New voices in my head. So thanks, Ben. You kept me listening and kept me moving.
About Terry Allen - Terry Allen has made a career out of creating art based on how things are- not how they ought to be. Terry's background includes musical and theatrical performance, sculpture, painting, drawing, video, installation, and radio works. His sculpture pops up in the most unusual places- from Los Angeles' Citicorp Plaza, to San Francisco's Moscone Center to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He's received numerous awards and honors- including Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. Then there's his music. Terry's recorded several provocative albums of original rock with Texan accent and attitude. Bizarre characters and biting observations- along with insights and inside jokes- populate his songs. Instead of offending simply for the sake of being rude, also shows an unexpected compassion. Whether it is his music, sculpture, or opinion, Terry goes all out. ""
Comments about Ben’s work:
If you happen to be in Austin, Texas before April 11, neon artist Ben Livingston aka beneon has a show up and running at the illustrious Continental Club upstairs in the gallery. I haven't seen the show yet since I won't get to Austin until the 10th - but I've known that Ben is a genius ever since he and my brother started hanging out in the 80's. Ben has one of those lives where you suspect all his major decisions are based solely on their entertainment value. He never fails to amuse. He describes the experience of performing in the world famous festival of Austin music, SXSW, at The Continental Club
"What a hoot. You never know what's going to come out of his mouth...One minute he's poking fun at art history with his hilarious song called "Smart Fools From Art Schools", and the next he's singing a ditty about death and dying entitled "We're All in This Alone. Very imaginative and inspiring.
“Ben's songs are cliff notes from decades of journaling that he refers to as his "loose canon". Reflection run through a fun filter - That's what this artist turned singer-song writer seems to be all about."
© 2010 Ben Livingston, All rights reserved