Ben Graves

Ben Graves


"consistently fresh and inventive," and "intelligent pop music--tightly crafted songs that lend themselves well to improvisation in a live setting.” (Performing Songwriter Magazine).


The trio is as versatile as they come; 3 experienced jazz musicians playing anything from hard rock to swinging bebop with acoustic instruments (Ben usually brings his electric for the occasional rockin' tune). Brook's double bass thumping & Matt's tasty drumming can set the stage for anything from a classy wedding reception (they have SOME nice clothes...) to a midnight set at CBGB's.

Graves is a seasoned performer who has shared stages with artists as random as Modern Jazz Quartet bassist Percy Heath and Kid Rock. His last studio CD, Memphis, was played on some 300 radio stations worldwide, and in the summer of 2002, charted top 30 at some 50 stations, such as WTSR Ewing, NJ (#3), WNYK Nyack, NY (#10), and WUIC Chicago (#14). Memphis features the contributions of pros such as drummer Scott Amendola, keyboardist Rob Burger (Tin Hat Trio, Norah Jones), and bassist Lee Alexander (Norah Jones). Rosalie Howarth of San Francisco's KFOG called it "very, very good"; "excellent CD," said KRZA in Colorado; and "a great, great disc," said music director Sean Wilson of WTSR.

More recently he recorded Live, chronicling the Ben Graves duo's 4-year Thursday night steady at SF's vibey cocktail lounge, Tonic. Live showcases Graves' writing, baritone guitar work, and live loops (amidst the clinking beer glasses and bar banter), in the liberating context of a 'rock duet' featuring Jim Kassis or Darian Gray on drums. The first CD from the Ben Graves trio, Crazy Italians, included the cut "Princess Grace," which was featured on the Performing Songwriter magazine 1999 CD sampler showcasing their picks for the top 12 unsigned independent releases.

Whatever the instrumentation or musical occasion, Ben Graves weaves his unique guitar style and soulful voice into a truly original tapestry that is at once innovative, informed, and inspired.


The City Caught Me in its Arms

Written By: Ben Graves

The city caught me in its arms
she saved me
and though I fell for all her charms
When I jumped off the skyscraper recycled paper pile
nobody told me that I'd have to wait a while
watching the suitors inspecting their suits
hoping that all their corporate seeds will bear fruits

The city caught me its her arms she saved me
and though I meant nobody harm
I upset the meter maid putting up a barricade
closing the street for the Chinese New Year’s parade
Smoke-breathing dragons with hundreds of feet
dodging firecrackers flying from dirty concrete

The city caught me in its arms she saved me
and over car horns and alarms
I heard fire engines cry and smelled submarine sandwiches
crucified by toothpicks with cellophane stitches
wondering if she'll ever turn out her lights for me
we'll spend the evening with no electricity
as flickering candlelight throws silhouettes
‘til the morning sun glows like a lit cigarette
and her fresh city skyline is framed in the light
casting shadows like blankets she wraps me up tight

The city caught me in its arms she saved me
and though her evening breeze was warm
there were shivering people with no place to sleep
and a cupful of pride that they’re begging to keep
if she’d only catch everyone who falls from her heights
they’d all smile at her smells and sigh at her sights

The city caught me in its arms


Written By: Ben Graves

So the dancers are dancing around me in circles I don’t understand
And they’re twirling on tiptoes like little tornadoes with delicate hands
One of them bows very gently to me
But I’m not the partner she wants me to be
So she keeps on dancing around me in circles so beautifully

So the dancers are all wearing costumes that make them appear quite the same
And they’ve painted their faces to try and erase any trace of their names
But one of them keeps looking me in the eye
Every time she goes dancing by
And she knows that I’m not a great dancer, but I think that she wants me to try

Ballerina, butterfly
Show me how you jump so high

So the dancers are counting out “one, two, three,” over and over again
Every time they count three their feet neatly complete a spectacular spin
But one of them’s counting especially loud
My ballerina is teaching me how
And my partner takes me by the hand and we dance to the roar of the crowd


So the dancers are dancing around in a circle I don’t understand
The mechanical clockwork that’s locked in the music box here in my hand
I open the box and then I close my eyes
My ballerina will teach me to fly
And I find that the music box winds up a treasure that money can’t buy



Written By: Ben Graves

Heard from my baby, something's not right
Gotta get to Memphis before tonight
Bought me a ticket for a direct flight
Driver get me to Memphis at the speed of light

Rain, rain gonna try to slow me down
headed to the airport, other side of town
I can see her crying in her dressing gown
Get me to Memphis, 'fore my baby drowns

Lord help you try to get in my way
I got somewhere to go today
I gotta get to Memphis

Mississippi River is rising fast
Looking at the TV and the forecast
Waiting at the airport for the fog to pass
Baby drawing breaths that may be her last


Telephone ringing other end of the line
I can hear a heartbeat but it's only mine
I want to hear her tell me that she's doing fine
Headed out to Memphis, flying blind



"Crazy Italians" (Little Firecracker")
"Memphis" (Little Firecracker)
"Live" (Little Firecracker)

Set List

1 set list (original material):

Field Trip
the Sun Came Out Today
Free Man
Lost in LA
San Francisco
You Can Feel It