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Interview with Ben London of Black Fret, Curator of A SMASH Benefit

Our SMASH Benefit show is truly a community effort. Ben London has been partnering with SMASH to work with us to bring our vision to life by booking and organizing the artists in preparation for their incredible performances.Thanks Ben!

Ben London is a Seattle based music professional/recording artist who currently serves as Executive Director for non-profit Black Fret Seattle. Black Fret has distributed over $3,000,000 to the musicians of Austin and Seattle since 2013. Prior, London held senior positions with Experience Music Project (MoPop), The Recording Academy (GRAMMYS), Hewlett Packard and Northwest Polite Society.

London was the inaugural chair of the Seattle Music Commission and has served on boards including KEXP and the Vera Project. London’s music has been featured in a wide variety of movies and television programs. London has curated the annual SMASH benefit since 2018.

We caught up with Ben to talk about his work, music, his Bowie fandom, and more.

Tell us about your David Bowie Fandom.

I’ve been a fan of Bowie most of my life. I remember my older brother bringing home the Ziggy Stardust album and learning to play songs like Rebel Rebel when I first started playing guitar. I saw Bowie in High School on the Let’s Dance tour and continue to be amazed by his output. Doesn’t really matter what music is currently in fashion, there’s always a Bowie record that sounds contemporary.

What is your favorite Bowie record and song?

Tough questions…I guess my favorite album would be Hunky Dory and song I come back to over and over again is Hang On To Yourself.

What artist are you most excited to see at the show?

I’m excited for all of them! Every year each performer brings their own flavor to the songs the perform. I’m pretty excited to see what pianist Jovino Santos Neto does with his interpretation of the material.

What are 3 songs you want to see covered in the show?

Unfair question for me. I’m helping choose the songs the artists perform. I guess I’d say, I wish we had multiple days to do this show. There are so many great Bowie songs to choose from.

Pictured: Black Fret Seattle 2021 grant recipients.

Tell us about Black Fret and what you have coming up.

Black Fret is a 501c3 non-profit that builds community that supports the creation and performance of exceptional new music. We’re getting ready to announce our 2022 grant recipients, working on our event calendar for 2023 and working with some strategic partners to continue to support the musicians in our community.

You are a musician yourself, tell us about that.

Yes. I’ve been an active musician in the Seattle music community for over 30 years with my bands Alcohol Funnycar, Sanford Arms and STAG. It’s one of the things that motivates me to support and nurture the next generations of Seattle music.

Pictured: Ben in his band Alcohol Funnycar and their record "Time to Make The Donuts"

What music are you loving right now?

The latest Lee Fields album Sentimental Fool, Dijon’s Absolutely and Cumulus’ Something Brighter.

Be sure to attend one of Black Fret's open to the public shows to experience what great artist they are supporting and keep up with Ben and Blackfret on instagram at @benelondon and @blackfretseattle.

Don't forget to grab your tickets for A SMASH Benefit Tribute to David Bowie on November 20, 2022 at The Moore Theatre.


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