Ben Folds to headline the Calvin Theatre this Friday

By Chloe Trepanier

(K Tempest Bradford/Flickr)
(K Tempest Bradford/Flickr)

Ben Folds will be bringing his solo tour to the Calvin Theatre in Northampton this Friday. Folds’, “And a Piano” show will feature the ever-popular singer-songwriter showcasing his classic songs and telling various tales.

Folds, the frontman of legendary alt-rockers the Ben Folds Five, got his start playing in bands in high school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he grew up. During the late 1980s, he played in bands such as the locally successful Majosha and the short-lived Pots and Pans.

After the dissolution of these bands, Folds obtained a music publishing deal and moved to Nashville, Tenn. where he played drums for a short period in the band that would later be renamed The Semantics. After moving on to the University of Miami, where he studied percussion, he dropped out despite needing only one more credit to graduate. Instead, he started perfecting the piano skills that helped make him famous.

With these new skills in hand, Folds formed the misleadingly-named Ben Folds Five with bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jessee. Formed after Folds moved back to N.C., the Ben Folds Five wasn’t entirely commercially successful in the United States, but found limited success in the U.K. and Australia.

After Ben Folds Five broke up, Folds began his solo career in 2001 with “Rockin’ the Suburbs.” During this transition, his music took on a more wry, humorous tone, as he collaborated with parody icon “Weird Al” Yankovic on the music video for “Rockin’ the Suburbs” and, four years later, on the song “Time.”

Fold’s first two solo albums, “Rockin’ The Suburbs” and “Songs for Silverman,” were met with wide critical acclaim. A theme that appears in most of Folds’ work, especially in these first two solo albums, is his focus on growing up and becoming a parent, which often makes his music a very emotional listen.

In 2008, Folds kept up his penchant for offbeat humor with his album, “Way to Normal.” The album initially caused drama when an anonymous user online said that there was a leak of the album. The leak looked real enough that people thought it was a genuine album from Folds, but two months later Folds came clean, saying that most of the songs (most of which were bizarrely uncommercial and filled with foul language) on the leak were fake.

As it turns out, Folds and his band had recorded fake songs for the public to listen to while they were holed up in Dublin.

Therein lies the dichotomy of Ben Folds, who is a comedic but also deeply emotional artist. From his cover rendition of “Bitches Ain’t S***” to emotionally heavy songs like “Annie Waits” and “Brick,” Folds takes the listener on an emotional roller coaster and never fails to offer tantalizing peeks into his life.

The show is at 8:00 p.m., tickets start at $35.50 and are available through

Chloe Trepanier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ChloeTrepahnyay.