Ben Coulter
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Ben Coulter

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"Ben Coulter's Road to the Opry"

Emerging from the small town of Montrose, in the SE Arkansas Delta, Ben Coulter has been eyeing the country music spotlight on his quest to the Grand Ole Opry for some time now. At 19 he was amazed by the fact that his Deer Camp was always being filled with music. And great music it was! Ben shared his camp with musical greats such as Bruce Smith, a respected country guitar player from Hot Springs, and Noel Wilson and Mike Gavin, who are well know for their time spent playing with the great Johnny Cash. At night you could hear the acoustic songs of Merle, Waylon, Johnny, and Hank Sr. by the firelight. It is only natural that Ben would count these greats in his list of influences.
Although Ben came from a musical family, with his uncle being a gospel singer, he actually didn't pick up a guitar of his own until getting one for Christmas in 1999. Since then he has played in numerous churches that he pastored including Fellowship Baptist in Snyder, AR and Journey Church in Monticello, AR. Ben feels as though he is taking the "same path" as Son House, a Blues crooner and guitarist that rose to popularity in the 1930's and 1940's. He also started out with a love for God and then started to showcase his talents for music.
After competing in a few talent contests and building up some confidence, Ben moved to Branson in 2004 with nothing more than $300, his guitar and a bag of clothes. With the help of his new friends, Gerry and Karen Moore, he was able to find work at Shorty Smalls as the evening entertainment. Ben smiles as he recalls the panic he felt that first night......"I was supposed to play for 3-4 hours and I only knew maybe 10 songs! I just walked around and played to different people and somehow made it work!" Ben spent the next couple of years splitting his time between Branson in the summer and Fayetteville during the winters. By 2006 he was established in Branson so well that he was able to spend the entire year working there by playing such venues as The Pasta House and Branson Landing. One night Ben was playing as a street entertainer for Branson Landing when he heard a familiar voice join in on the song and looked up to see Glen Campbell singing with him!
In 2007 Ben packed up and moved to Nashville where he was lucky enough to land a gig playing with legendary blues man and Grammy Award Winner from NOLA, Anders Osborne, at the Crescent Cafe' and Oyster Bar. As much as he enjoyed Nashville, he felt as though he could make the same living playing away from Nashville, and that decision turned out to be the right one for him! After moving to Hamburg, AR he met his girlfriend and love of his life, Sheffield Duke.... "She has been my No. 1 supporter and the Voice of Reason when I need to hear it!" (Sorry ladies, he's taken) Ben now makes a monthly trip to perform in Nashville. He also travels to Mississippi where he has been playing Harlow's Casino on Friday and Saturday nights quite a bit over the last few months.
When you don't find Ben busy with music, you will find him cheering on his favorite teams, the St. Louis Cardinals and Arkansas Razorbacks. He is also an avid reader and loves anything to do with history, especially the Civil War. Ben has also joined with Holt International. They are a non-profit that helps kids that are in the worst situations all over the world while they are waiting to be adopted. Ben also been helping to raise awareness through participating in a fundraiser for Hope Ranch. Hope Ranch Inc. is a non-profit Assisted Riding Center for at risk youth in Southeast Arkansas, located in Lake Village, Arkansas.
Ben's biggest wish is to perform at the Grand Ole Opry and he lights up as he says that his friends, family....his entire hometown have been behind him 200%. Since that first night in Branson, Ben has added hundreds of songs to his repertoire as well as produced and distributed enough original material to warrant 9 albums! His next album, a solo acoustic compilation, is set to release around March 1st. With all this talent....Ben is sure to recognize his dream in the near future. You can find more about Ben Coulter and his "Road to the Opry" on his Facebook page as well as his website www.bencoulteronline.com, and you can actually follow his journey at www.roadtotheopry.com. You will also find several dates at local venues around Central Arkansas. - Revel at Conway (Kari Huskey)


"Country-blues musician sets sights on the Opry"

Country-Blues musician sets sights on the Opry
by Werner Trieschmann
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Ben Coulter wants to go to the Grand Ole Opry. He doesn’t want to just take the tourist route and soak up the atomsphere of Nashville’s hallowed stage. The 30 year old native of the tiny Arkansas Delta town of Montrose wants to go behind the velvet rope and perform at the Tennessee shrine.

Coulter is an aspiring country singer and his website, bencoulteronline.com, is draped with the descriptive banner “Traditional Country from the Heart of a Delta Bluesman”. His Opry quest is front and center in his dream to make it big. He has dedicated a blog to it, roadtotheopry.com, and, to his surprise, he’s dedicated to the blog.

“I never thought I would be able to blog about it every day but I am on Day 122,” Coulter says. “I put something on there every day. When I am coming back late from a show, I’ll put something short and something longer the next day.”

In a recent blog entry, he writes about playing in front of Joe Diffie at the Pink Tomato Festival in Warren. All of the entries are about, one way or another, Coulter’s hopeful trip to the spotlight in Nashville.

That hoped-for trip got a nice boost when an online reviewer posted a favorable notice about Coulter’s show in late May in Nashville. Coulter, who was playing with his band Delta Outlaws, was praised for “captivating the audience with his booming voice and soulful Southern feel.”

“That show in Nashville was huge for us,” Coulter says. He was the opening act for several songwriters, including Brian White, whose 13 No. 1 gospel and country hits include Rodney Atkins’ “Watching You”.

“The house was packed,” Coulter says. “After our show folks were lined up to get autographs and buy CDs.”

As good as that Nashville reception was, it hasn’t yet proved to be the key that unlocks Opry’s door. Instead, Coulter isdoing what he has been doing the last couple of years - playing as many shows as possible and trying to make inroads to Nashville by way of his home in Maumelle.

Coulter is content, for now, to seek out and perform for events like the Pink Tomato Festival and small stages that are way off the map. During the week, he will play solo shows and often during the weekend he will play with his band.

“This is all I do,” Coulter says. “If I am not playing during the day, I am calling around for gigs. I do guitar lessons. It’s paying the bills.”
Coulter marks the beginning of his musical life when he got a guitar as a present from his mother when he was 19.

“I got real involved in playing at church and at deer camp,” Coulter recalls. Deer camp provided more of a musical education than you would suspect. “We played more music there than going out after deer,” Coulter says with a chuckle. “One guy in the group played with Johnny Cash. There were some great guitar pickers. I learned a lot just listening to them play.”

When Coulter decided to try his hand at being a professional musician, his first stop wasn’t Nashville but the tourist mecca of Branson. “I had never been there,” Coulter admits. “I had my guitar, my clothes and three hundred bucks. I was driving down the strip and stopped at the Dixie Country Inn. I said, ‘I need a room’. They asked what I was doing in town and they noticed the guitar. When I told them, they said ‘This town is going to eat you alive’.”

Coulter ended up spending three years there and spent a good deal of time rent-free at the Dixie Country Inn because of an Arkansas connection. Coulter was thrown into the fire, learning his trade on the fly.

“That first night I played there I was supposed to play three hours,” Coulter recalls. “ I knew 10 songs. In the first 20 minutes I was out of songs.” Today Coulter figures his repertoire is about 400 tunes, many of hose his compositions. A few years ago, he tried out for American Idol but didn’t make it through to Hollywood. Like many other musicians, Coulter has self-made and released his albums while waiting for a label to discover him.

“The music he listened to growing up was a heavy dose of Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings and Randy Travis, thanks to his father, along with Poison, which Coulter notes was “real big when I was in high school.”

As he got older Coulter’s appreciation for country got stronger, then he fell in love with Delta Blues. “I really got into old blues,” Coulter says. “It’s the music from where I grew up, though I really didn’t hear it until later. I even got into guys like Jimmie Rodgers, who is all blues but with some yodeling added.”

Coulter understands his mixing blues with country makes him an odd fit for the country genre that’s dominated by bands like Lady Antebellum, who are closer to a standard pop-rock sound. “When you look at the country award shows, you can get discouraged,” Coulter says. “What I am doing is completely different. I am doing what I am feeling is best. If [audiences] get tired of what they have heard and start looking for something new, we are going to be right there.”

Coulter hopes that right there is the Grand Ole Opry. He intends to keep blogging and playing until it happens. - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


"Cuzz III Review"

The genre of country music has undergone a facelift in the past ten to twenty years. Where once the genre was defined by typically roots-based backdrop like Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson, the genre has expanded to include acts like Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum, and Sugarland. These sounds of these acts have elements of country, but easily fall into the pop crossover category as well. While country music as it was once known stands in jeopardy of fading away, there are a few artists like Ben Coulter who aim to stand in their way.

Coulter has spent the past several years honing his signature country sound. From his beginnings as a praise and worship minister during his college days to three years of performing six shows a week in Branson, MO, Coulter has spent his life cultivating a sound which he has dubbed, “Country Music…Delta Style.” Shortly after Branson, Coulter took his talent to Nashville where he gigged through bars and clubs, eventually tiring of Music City and moving away to forge his way in a more unconventional manner. That decision led to the formation of Ben Coulter and the Delta Outlaws, and a declaration and mission to play the Grand Ole Opry by October 1, 2011. So does Coulter have what it takes? If this album is any indication, he just might.

Coulter’s record is classic country, drawing from the rich history of the genre and bringing all the critical elements together, with plenty of steel guitar, shuffling percussion, and raging fiddle. He makes his case for classic country early with album standout “Long Black Cars and Cocaine,” which lays forth his pedigree. “I’m just a country boy/From down in Arkansas/Raised up on the good Lord, Haggard, and Jones.” With a blues-based vibe guiding the background and some solid breakout instrumental solos, it sets the tone early. Coulter continues his case for classic country with “When Haggard Was King,” a song fueled by rich nostalgia for a time of music gone by and anchored by the artist’s rich baritone, occasionally reminiscent of George Strait, and some burning fiddle and guitar work. While it’s easy to dismiss such tracks as clichéd, Coulter delivers them with a fresh idealism and solid songwriting that helps them to go down easily. Yet he truly begins setting the stage for his unique sound with “Highway 61 Blues” and “Delta Mud.” “Highway 61” is possessed of the Johnny Cash “boom-chicka” percussion, and both songs let the fiddle lay the bluesy pathway, drawing forth mournful and playful tones left and right. It’s a unique juxtaposition of the styles and it plays out wonderfully well here.

It’s not all swinging soul with Coulter though, as he takes more than his fair share of opportunities to deliver several radio-friendly ballads, beginning with the mandolin-influenced autobiographical tale, “Songwriter.” The steel guitar wails, mandolin plucks, and vocals warble keenly through it all, laying forth a claim to true country. In similar fashion, “I Wish You Were Mine” borrows a classic sonic palette while turning to the subject matter of longing love. “What I Would Do Just To Be With You” continues the longing, as does the album closer “You Don’t Have to Remind Me,” ending things with a somber and heartfelt note.

Ben Coulter has set forth on a mission to play the Grand Ole Opry with Cuzz III: Feel Like Goin’ Home as his war cry. Conjuring forth great country sounds of old and combining them with subtle elements of classic Delta blues, the artist has crafted an album that should be heard far and wide. And the Opry? If he keeps it up like this, he just might get there.

Review by Andrew Greenhalgh
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5) - Andrew Greenlaigh of Review You


"“Review of Country Music Artist Ben Coulter’s Album” by REVEL Feature Entertainment Writer Manday Robinson"

Ben Coulter is an amazing country music artist from Montrose,Arkansas. When he was little, he wanted to be a baseball player, but Ben soon changed his mind that country music is where his heart lies. I recently was able to review his CD and I have to say it one that I will be adding to my playlist. This album is called “Cuzz Vol V – Where Have All the Old Cowboys Gone? “



Ben takes his influences from great country music artists of the past. On his website, he mentions some of his favorites as Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings. His CD shows his raw talent and proves that country music is where he needs to be spending his time.

Ben Coulter has recorded a version of “Amazing Grace” that is excellent. It is upbeat and simply his voice with a guitar. It shows off his musical talents without any extras to drown out his voice. Another great song on this album is called “Where Have All the Old Cowboys Gone”? It talks about how when you turn on the TV you can’t find movies like they used to make with John Wayne.





My favorite song on this album is called “First Big Record.” It has great lyrics such as “First big record I make I’m going home, where the Spanish moss is hanging from a tree.” It makes you think about the things that you miss from your hometown and how we all enjoy going back.

Ben Coulter talks on his site about how he is hoping to make it to the Grand Ole Opry inNashvillle,TN.From listening to this album, I would say that he has the talent to do it that he just needs the support of his fans to get him there. This is one country artist we will be hearing more from in the future.


You can purchase Ben’s music from his website bencoulteronline.com. - REVEL @Conway


""Coulter goes acoustic and showcases his roots in a very personal Cuzz Vol. V" by Brandler Johnson"

Arkansas native and Nashville regular Ben Coulter has recently released Cuzz Vol. V, a solo acoustic endeavor that exemplifies Coulter’s carefully crafted and countrified delta blues sound. The simple clarity of truth that can only be ministered by a man and his guitar rings true throughout the album.

The heavily blues-based set of songs taps into the core of Coulter’s existence as the artist honors his faith in Dear Lord, a simple prayer of a man seeking guidance set to song. Coulter’s vocals truly shine in his bluesy rendition of the gospel standard Amazing Grace.

Paying homage to his southern roots, Coulter reflects on the rural country lifestyle in the cuts Deer Huntin' Blues and Goin' Down to Montrose, a tribute to his hometown of Montrose, Arkansas.

Not one to shy away from social commentary, Coulter penned Hard Workin, God Fearin’ Folks, a perspective on the current plight of the America’s working class. Where Have All the Old Cowboys Gone is based on Coulter’s observation of how western movies have faded unnoticeably into the fabric of current modern culture.

Coulter continues to showcase a very personal album as he celebrates the passing of his good friend Noel Wilson. He acknowledges Wilson as one of his inspirations and covers Wilson’s First Big Record I Make I’m Goin’ Home. He also introduces his own tribute to Wilson with I’ll Raise My Guitar High.

Coulter’s vocal talent is undeniable, and his soul-baring bluesy delivery is highlighted on each track of this album. Traditional country fans as well as blues fans should have little problem connecting to Coulter’s latest offering which is currently available at www.bencoulteronline.com.
- Examiner.com- Nashville


"Coulter brings Arkansas Buzz to Nashville"

On a night where a Taylor Swift concert was adding additional congestion to a usually overburden parking situation, Nashville was treated to a one-night only engagement by Ben Coulter and the Delta Outlaws. The five-piece country band from Little Rock, Arkansas played to an appreciative near-capacity crowd at the popular Listening Room.

Originally from the tiny railroad thoroughfare of Montrose, Arkansas, Ben Coulter has emerged as one of Arkansas' and Little Rock’s favorite sons. A regular on Little Rock television morning shows as well as frequent guest at local radio stations, Coulter has developed a loyal following with his rich and effortless vocals and a songwriting style that blends a combination of traditional Country with a hint of Delta Blues. Often playing as a solo act in the Little Rock club and café circuit as well as a bevy of statewide festivals, Coulter recently added the Delta Outlaws and brought his show to the Listening Room in Nashville.

Backed by Zach Gibbons on bass, Kirby Smith on lead guitar, Terry Swilley on harmonica, and Brandon Hogg on the drums, Coulter immediately captivated the audience with his booming voice and soulful southern feel.

The audience was treated to a wide variety of musical textures as Coulter tapped into his roots and delivered every song with the conviction of a church choir member on any given Sunday. “Mississippi Woman” showcased Coulter’s fondness for the Delta Blues, while “Roll on Train” painted a picture of living in the rural South where the frequent rumble and whistles of the passing trains are still a part of every day life. Perhaps Coulter’s most commercial endeavor came in the form of “Songwriter”, an introspective ballad that quickly brought comparisons to a young George Strait.

The attentive yet high-energy crowd rewarded Coulter with their focused appreciation after every song in the ninety-minute set and then hung around long after the performance to get signed CDs as well as meet and welcome the up and coming artist to Nashville. "As published on Examiner.com. To view the complete article with photos go to: http://exm.nr/moiJbO9" - Examiner.com - Nashville


"Cuzz V Review"

It’s no secret that country music as we know it has undergone a dramatic shift in the past twenty years or so. Gone are the salt of the earth flavors of Waylon and Willie, now giving way to the pop country of artists like Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, and Lady Antebellum. Sure, these new artists try to keep their country cred alive, interspersing their love tales with tracks that declare their love for tractors and gigging frogs but, ultimately, something is lost in the translation. 

Yet some artists aren’t quite content with the new brand of country music that’s come to roost in the proverbial henhouse. Artists as diverse as Alan Jackson, Shooter Jennings, and George Strait have all expressed their displeasure with the new sounds of Music Row and continue to craft music that expresses the sounds of the heart and the heartland, maintaining a respect and love of tradition. Adding his hat to the circle of supporters is Ben Coulter and his latest recording, Cuzz Vol. V: Where Have All the Old Cowboys Gone.

Coulter has spent plenty of time making music to make those old cowboys nod their heads in approval, notching nine albums to date under his belt and adding to a steadily increasing fan base. And through it all, his appreciation for roots country music has been heard and is the foundation that the stripped down Cuzz V builds its house on.

The album is the simplest form of music, just a man with a story to tell and his guitar. And Coulter’s deft playing and warm baritone, reminiscent of George Strait on his finest days, lay forth a fine palette of southern charm, with self-penned lyrics that tell of family, faith, and love. It’s real music for real people.

Coulter kicks the album off with the title track, musing about the loss of the old images and the overall heartbeat of the country/cowboy lifestyle. It’s simple, straightforward nature leads nicely into “First Big Record I Make I’m Going Home,” penned by Noel Wilson, whom Coulter gives a tribute later on in the record with the heartfelt lyrics of “I’ll Raise My Guitar High.”

“Back Home to You” is a pleasantly low-key affair alongside “I Want to Go Out West,” with their tales of love and longing while “Deer Huntin’ Blues” provides a bit of comic relief as well as a more upbeat vibe. Alternately, the weariness of “All My Dues are Paid” slows things down again with honest lyricism as the tenderness of “My Sweet Lovin’ Woman” rings true.

“I’ll Miss You, My Dear Friend” is another slow jam of gentle hope and sorrow yet quickly gives way to the upbeat tempo of “Goin’ Down to Montrose.” A prayer of faith and need come with the plaintive cry of “Dear Lord,” capturing both honesty and artistry in one before opening up to the true country sounds of “I’m Tired of Playing Second Fiddle.” It’s classic country in all aspects and is a perfect fit here.

Coulter also taps into the patriotic vein here with “Hard Workin’, God Fearin’ Folks of the USA” and it’s hat tip to the blue collar folks of the U.S. It’s one of the country credibility tracks that actually works given the rest of the artist’s material; Coulter writes from what he knows and the hard working folks will certainly identify. And lastly, in keeping with roots, Coulter brings to bear an upbeat rendition of that John Newton hymn classic, “Amazing Grace.” It’s a rousing, faith-filled ending that is totally appropriate here.

Ben Coulter’s Cuzz Vol. V: Where Have All the Old Cowboys Gone plays out on two levels. On one, it could simply serve as a quality, stripped down demo session of tracks that will soon be fleshed out a bit more with more instrumentation and bombast. And while that’s perfectly fine if that’s the case (and no doubt some of these tracks would be that much better given such a treatment), there’s something to be said for the stark simplicity of this recording. A man, his guitar, and his convictions; sometimes that’s just the right formula.
- Andrew Greenlaigh of Review You


Discography

Songwriter - released 2005
Cuzz Vol. I - released 2005
Cuzz Vol. II - released 2006
Cuzz Vol. III- released 2008
Blues Album - released 2009
Gospel Album - released 2009
Cuzz Vol. IV - released 2010
Wanted: Live - released 2011
Christmas with Cuzz - released 2011
Cuzz Vol. V - released 2012

Photos

Bio

As country music evolves, many new artists often find themselves pigeon-holed as new country, alternative country, or country rock. Ben Coulter does not have that problem. Ben Coulter IS country.

Whether it’s a tender ballad sung directly from the heart to the woman of his affections, or a sleeves-rolled-up, prideful ode to his Southern roots, the warmth and richness in Ben Coulter’s soulful serenades have earned him the moniker “The Voice of the South” and comparisons to a young George Strait.

Since 2004 Coulter has been living the life of an old-school troubadour, often performing over 150 shows a year. He has also released ten albums.

Originally hailing from the tiny whistle stop of Montrose, Arkansas, Coulter has taken his “Country Music…Delta Style” show from Chicago, IL to the legendary stage of the Louisiana Hayride, and points all across the South and Midwest.

The road to success is not always measured by how quickly you can get from point A to point B. For Ben Coulter the journey has been the reward, helping create his signature sound that blends delta blues with traditional country.

Coulter’s initial foray into the musician’s lifestyle got fast-tracked as he spent three years performing six shows a week in Branson, Missouri. Following his Branson experience Coulter trekked to Nashville, where he paid his dues in the popular singer/songwriter circuit before returning to Arkansas to continue honing his craft in the familiar surroundings of his upbringing.

Coulter’s inspiration for his songs is often born out of introspect and self-reflection. In his song “You don’t have to remind me” Coulter sees the face of his Dad, a boy’s hero who passed too early, every time he looks in the mirror. “To me, it’s a song saying that I’ll never forget,” said Coulter. As long as I’m alive I’ll always remember him. I guess with the song I wanted to tell my Dad that too.”

In his song “Highway 61 Blues” Coulter depicts a journey down the dark, desolate Mississippi highway that is renowned for leading to blues luminary Robert Johnson’s legendary “Crossroads.”

Coulter’s influences are well-traveled legends in their own right. His country heroes include Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings, while Son House, Muddy Waters, and Anders Osborne round out his most-admired roster.

Even though performing music was not always a career ambition for Coulter, music has always been a passion. Coulter grew up listening to traditional country and loved to dial in his favorite radio station 104.1 out of Monroe, Louisiana, especially to tune in to “Country Gold Saturday Night.”

Growing up, like a lot of American kids, Coulter was into playing baseball. He was also a HUGE Elvis Presley fan. As he got older he found himself tapping into the current rock scene, with bands like Kiss, Poison, and Guns and Roses among his personal favorites. He never picked up a guitar until he was 19 years old, but once he did his life changed dramatically. Coulter found his calling performing and writing songs and began delving back into blues and country, the two music genres that best defined his Southern roots.

Coulter’s songwriting continues to blossom as he writes from the heart, inspired by his faith, his friends and family, and his chosen career path as a road-seasoned musician.

His autobiographical song “Songwriter” is a crowd favorite and encapsulates his existence. “I wrote it when I was living and playing in Branson,” said Coulter. I think that song came out of leaving gigs night after night and wondering why I’m doing this.”

As Coulter continues on, the driving force that powers his journey becomes more evident to both himself and his fans. Not only is he able to connect with his audience at each performance, but also his music continues to gain recognition and touch those it encounters. His song “Feel like goin’ home” has been featured in the independent film “Wild Sunflowers.”
Whether the path he has chosen leads to his dream of playing the Opry, another full-band show at a county fair, or a solo performance at a local watering hole, three things remain constant:
Ben Coulter can sing…and Ben Coulter IS country…and blues.

(this bio was written by Brandler Johnson of The Examiner)