Ben Levin

This week on The Blues, Saturday night, December 21st at 11pm, I decided to go back through the archives and pull out a number of songs recorded by local blues musicians in WVXU's Corbett Studio.  I also added in three King Records tunes, Kelly Richey's Christmas story, a song by Tommy Emmanuel, and ended with a live version of "O Holy Night" by Peter Frampton.

So, this Christmas program begins with songs by Steve Schmidt, Bootsy Collins, Robin & Joani Lacy, Sonny Moorman, Greg Schaber, and Stuart Holman/Chuck Adair.  Then, Kelly Richey shares a story about the first guitar she got for Christmas followed by pieces from Larry Goshorn and Tommy Emmanuel.  There's a little section of King Records tunes by Charles Brown, Freddie King, and James Brown.  And, afterwards, you'll hear  music from Ben Levin, The Bluebirds, Marcos Sastre, and ends with Peter Frampton.  Merry Christmas!

It's always a delight to have local blues pianist Ben Levin come into the studio and not only talk about his career, but also perform on the grand piano in WVXU's Corbett Studio.  Ben sat down with me to catch up on Tuesday, December 3rd, and chat about how he feels about playing in Cincinnati clubs while going to school.  We discussed upcoming gigs at Mansion Hill Tavern (12/21 from 8pm-midnight) and BrewRiver Creole Kitchen (12/27 from 7-10pm).  

Ben also shared the details of being included on Joe Bonamassa's "Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea II" Mediterrean cruise this summer (8/14-19) with stops in Barcelona, Spain; Genoa, Italy; and Cannes, France.  The story behind his new single, "Forgot Mrs. Claus," is fun, and Ben was delighted that it has had more than 60,000 hits online so far.  He also mentioned accepting the CEA award for Ricky Nye recently.

And then, the magic happened in our Corbett Studio when Ben sat down at the grand piano and performed "Come On Take a Little Walk With Me."  

The rest of this week's blues show, Saturday, December 14th at 11pm, is a potpourri of Christmas tunes starting with Aaron Neville, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Koko Taylor, and Lonnie Brooks in the second set. Then you'll hear "Carol of the Bells" by the Marcus Roberts Trio, Houston Person, Joey DeFrancesco, and BB King in the third set.  And rounding out this program is holiday music from Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, the Goshorn Brothers, and Tuck Andress's "Little Drummer Boy." 

The holiday weekend edition of The Blues begins with The Goshorn Brothers, John Mayall, Garland Jeffreys, and Van Morrison.  The second set features music from Branford Marsalis/Joe Louis Walker and George Thorogood & the Destroyers.  You'll hear from Delbert McClinton, Johnny Adams, Phoebe Snow, and Linda Tillery & the Cultural Heritage Choir in the third set.  And, the show ends with the gospel sounds of the Blind Boys of Alabama and the Fairfield Four.

Concert notes...Ricky Nye's playing with Chris Douglas 12/1 at MOTR Pub, and Ben Levin will be perform at the Brew River Creole Kitchen on Eastern Avenue on 12/5.

On The Blues this week, Saturday, August 31st at 11pm, Ron Esposito speaks by phone with Stanley Booth about his new book, Red Hot and Blue, which recounts his 50 years of writing about the music scene in Memphis.  Their conversation was recorded on July 16th.

During this blues show, you'll hear not only their conversation, but also music from Mose Allison, Furry Lewis, Percy Mayfield, Elvis Presley, Albert King, Eddie Floyd, Otis Redding, and Booker T. & the Mgs.

At the end of this blues show, you'll hear a set of music with Big Joe Duskin, Ricky Nye, Ben Levin, and Professor Longhair.

This week on The Blues, Saturday, August 24, at 11pm, you'll hear new music from the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Coco Montoya, Kingfish, Delbert McClinton, and several others.

You'll also be treated to an interview I did on August 7th with local blues pianist Ben Levin in WVXU's Corbett Studio.  Ben also plays two songs, "Before Me" and "Caledonia."  Rick Andress was the engineer.

Sad news...Bassist Larry Taylor who's on the song, "Hold On," by Tom Waits, and also played with Canned Heat and John Mayall, plus many others, passed away earlier this week.

We were delighted when Ben Levin came into our Corbett Studio this morning along with his friend, Takuto Asano from Japan, who plays guitar.  I asked them about their friendship and their upcoming concerts with Ben's trio later this week.  They performed "Key to the Highway" while in the studio.  (Technical assistance from Rick Andress, engineer.)

Takuto also mentioned that he is taking intensive English courses in New Orleans and decided to fly into Cincinnati a week early to spend some time with Ben and perform with the trio.  He also told me that he had been lucky enough to attend this year's New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

The Ben Levin Trio will be performing at Latitude's Bar & Bistro in Anderson Township from 6-9pm, Thursday, August 8, and the next night, Friday, August 9, from 7-10pm at the Brew River Creole Kitchen in the Columbia Tusculum area.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is presenting a number of programs throughout 2019 in honor of the 1964 Freedom Summer in Mississippi.  The series is entitled, Freedom 55, in reference to the 55th anniversary of Freedom Summer.

I've produced a one-hour special, which will air at 11pm on Saturday, April 13th, highlighting the events planned at the Freedom Center on Thursday, April 18th and Friday, April 19th.  The special includes a conversation with Dion Brown and Jacqueline Dace from the Freedom Center; music from Bobby Rush, Marquise Knox, and Ben Levin.  There's also an interview with Ron Esposito and Ben Levin in our Corbett Studio.

This year's annual Blues Christmas special will air on Saturday, December 22nd, at 11pm.  The show begins with a song from Canned Heat's Christmas Album, "Christmas Blue," which features Dr. John, too.   Ben Levin, who recorded a couple of songs for this special in WVXU's Corbett Studio on May 13th, opened for Canned Heat's gig at Ludlow Garage December 1st.  Other artists featured in the first half of this Blues Christmas special are Joey DeFrancesco, the Blind Boys of Alabama with special guest Tom Waits, Aaron Neville, Etta James, and Sonny Landreth.  The rest of the show includes holiday music from Eric Clapton's "Happy Xmas" cd, The Persuasions, the Marcus Roberts Trio, and Houston Person with vocals by Etta Jones on "Santa Baby."

The annual Cincy Blues Fest is returning to Sawyer Point this weekend for a one-day musical event, Saturday, August 11th.  The festival runs from 2:30 - midnight on two stages with the headliner Delbert McClinton taking the stage at 9pm, Saturday night.

Other bands on the Budweiser Main Stage include Leroy Ellington's Sacred Hearts, The Noah Wotherspoon Band, plus Chuck Brisbin & the Tuna Project.  The Arches Boogie Piano Stage will feature Ben Levin, Ricky Nye, and Judy Carmichael among others that day.

This week's edition of The Blues, Saturday, May 26th at 11pm, features interviews with three blues musicians:  Ben Levin, EG Kight, and Marcia Ball, plus songs by Trombone Shorty and Galactic who are coming to the PNC Pavilion in August.


Local blues pianist Ben Levin will perform a very special concert with former Muddy Waters sideman and collaborator, "Steady Rollin'" Bob Margolin

1. Southgate House Revival - 4/18 (Tom Petty Tribute), 4/21 (Sierra Hull)

2. The Greenwich - Chasing the Trane film - 4/19

3. Cincinnati Opera's summer season

4. 4/20 - MOTR Pub, Madison Theatre, Northside Tavern shows

Lots of local, regional & national "music notes" this week.  Here's Elaine Diehl:  


This week on The Blues, Saturday, October 21st, at 11pm, you'll hear a conversation with Ben Levin and Ron Esposito recorded in WVXU's studio on Monday, October 16th.  They discuss Ben's new blues cd, "Ben's Blues," which was recorded at Ultrasuede Studio here in Cincinnati.

There’s a hot young pianist on the scene whom local piano legend Ricky Nye has been praising for some time now. He’s Ben Levin and according to his website he’s been playing piano since he was eight, then hooked up with Ricky Nye.