Ben Phelps
Gig Seeker Pro

Ben Phelps

Suffolk, Virginia, United States | SELF

Suffolk, Virginia, United States | SELF
Band Americana Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




Q&A with the Ben Phelps Project
Posted to: Music Q and A

© June 7, 2007

By Patty Jenkins
The Virginian-Pilot
The Ben Phelps Project
Click on the button above to hear a portion of "Comin' on Strong" performed by The Ben Phelps Project.

As a full band The Ben Phelps Project is seven members strong, but don’t be surprised if you see them as a five-piece or even an acoustic three-piece.

Playing a mix of jazz, blues and rock – The Ben Phelps Project released “Vision & Sound,” a 10-song CD, last Christmas.

The members are lead singer and guitarist Ben Phelps; Andy Ritter on lead guitar; Matt Summitt on bass; Mike Adams on drums, Vladimir Barios on Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes and piano; Chris Ward on trumpet; and Mike Bartusiak on saxophone.

Phelps started out playing solo. “Andy and I were good friends, so we got together, and from there I started stealing students from Christopher Newport University’s school of music,” Phelps said. Summitt and Ward still attend CNU, and Adams and Bartusiak have graduated. Barios, who joined the group with Adams, also plays with a military band.

Although they haven’t opened for a national act, that’s about to change. They are scheduled to open for Richmond’s Carbon Leaf in August at the American Music Festival in Virginia Beach.

At this year’s annual Portfolio Music Awards, The Ben Phelps Project was nominated for best album and won best pop band – “even though I don’t necessarily consider our music poppish,” Phelps said.

The band will play two shows Friday evening at Harborfest in Norfolk.

Does the band have a pre-gig ritual?
A couple drinks and on with the show. No voodoo dolls or chants here.

What are the best and worst things about the local music scene?
The best thing: The scene is growing. Certain venues, namely the Outer Banks Brewing Station and The Jewish Mother, are catering to original music, bringing in acts that are out there playing good, original music regionally, as well as nationally. The worst thing: not enough small to midsize venues catering to original music. The good people of Hampton Roads know and appreciate good original homegrown music.

If the band was signed to a record deal, how would it spend the advance?
Gear, a new B.P.P. album and a better form of travel (the guys take two cars to every gig, so a van would be great).

Reach Patty Jenkins at (757) 446-2298 or




Hometown Sounds: Pop-soul Sweetness From Ben Phelps Project
August 04, 2008|By SAM MCDONALD, 247-4732

Ben Phelps Project occupies a pleasant temperate zone between Dave Matthews-style jamming and the light-soul sounds of Edwin McCain.

On stage, the band knows know how to move a crowd.

"They are a really great high-energy pop band," said Andrew Coplon with Norfolk's Rising Tide Productions. "They get everyone singing the words to their songs." When the band headlined The NorVa, it reportedly kept 500 people entertained until the end of the night - a feat unusual for a local act.
Ads by Google

The band's playing, highlighted by guitar strums and saxophone flourishes, provides a tightly-woven backdrop for Phelps' strong, versatile voice.

"They have a very radio-friendly sound, but they're also very soulful at times," Coplon said. "And they do a pretty good Tom Petty cover, so they can rock it up a little."

Phelps recently spent a few moments taking the Hometown Sounds exam. Here are his answers.

When did Ben Phelps Project start? 2006. The major thing was finding guys who wanted to find an original sound ... I had a band in Blacksburg, when I was at Virginia Tech. Then I graduated and I had to get a day job. Now, I'm a history teacher at Smithfield High School. It's cool to teach during the day and help the kids, then play at night.

Who plays what? I'm lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Matt Summitt, bass and backing vocals; Michael Adams, drums and backing vocals; Michael Bartusiak, saxophone and backing vocals; Jared Pool, lead guitars and backing vocals.

Where is home base? I live in Smithfield and so does the bass player, who attends Christopher Newport University. Everybody else lives in Newport News.

Describe your style. It's Dave Matthews meets Ryan Adams with a huge dash of blues and jazz thrown in the mix.

Who are your musical heroes? The Beatles, The Police, Joshua Redman, Warren Haynes, Tower of Power.

Where do you like to play? The NorVa and Lake Matoaka Amphitheater. With The NorVa, it's the sound system, the amenities, the prestige. And it's right here in our backyard ... Lake Matoaka is such a nice, beautiful place to play. It's a really nice amphitheater setting, more intimate than nTelos or Verizon.

What would be a dream gig? Any gig where the roadies do the work, the musicians play, the comps are satisfactory, the sound is excellent and the pay is good.

What's the best thing about playing music? Music is an expression of the soul. Without it, mine would be underexposed.

Do you have an ultimate goal? To create an original sound and share it with whomever will listen, whether it be locally, regionally or nationally.


Ben Phelps Project has the following performances scheduled:

* Friday, 6:30 p.m., Lake Matoaka Amphitheater, Williamsburg

* Aug. 22, Keagan's Restaurant and Tavern, Jefferson Commons, Newport News

* Aug. 30, American Music Festival, 22nd Street Stage, Virginia Beach

* Aug. 31, Rock 'N' Roll 1/2 Marathon, Virginia Beach

* Sept. 28, BOB-FM Sunrise To Sunset Music Festival, Norfolk

For more information on Ben Phelps Project, visit

Hometown Sounds is a regular feature about local, regularly performing music groups. Reporter Sam McDonald can be reached at 247-4732 or by e-mail at - THE DAILY PRESS


New Ghost Town - Released 2010
Vision and Sound - Released 2006



As a singer-songwriter and band leader in Virginia, Ben Phelps has had a good run over the last ten years playing between 75 and 100 shows a year, highlighted by performances with Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Colbie Callait, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Michelle Branch, Cracker, Carbon Leaf, Pat Mcgee, Taylor Hicks, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, The Romantics, and Good Old War.

Along with regular local radio and TV appearances, Ben has been a regular on the club circuit. Most notably playing The NorVa in Norfolk, VA, a club Rolling Stone named as one of the top 5 clubs to play in the country, drawing 500 people.

The band has played live for Spring Breakers, in Panama City, Florida to Bucknell University students in Pennsylvania and everywhere in between. Ben is newly signed to Tinderbox Music, a promotional company out of Minnesota, that currently has the new album, New Ghost Town, being played on college radio across the county and working licensing to TV & Film. Most recently, Ben Phelps Music has been has been licensed to The Discovery Channel. MTV2, and VH1 for use in over ten television series.