Ben Howard
Calgary Folk Fest

Ben Howard

from England

Thursday, July 25.

There’s nothing like a life-altering health crisis to spark a creative reassessment of a musical journey. That’s what happened to Ben Howard. While in the studio in the South of France working on a new album, Howard suffered two mini strokes, or transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs). They came out of the blue. The 35-year-old musician experienced extreme hypersensitivity while temporarily losing the power of speech. Not surprisingly Howard’s project was overtaken by his urge to explore the fragility and absurdity of life. His emotional and health turmoil resulted in his latest recording ­- Is It? - a work filled with glitchy beats, hazy synths, and elusive hooks. Critics are calling it a triumph of artistic perseverance and a testament to the beauty of musical unpredictability. In some ways, though, his latest work is just another expected yet unexpected step off the singer songwriter beaten path. Following a formula is not Howard’s way. He arrived on the indie music scene in the early 2010s with 70s folkie infused songs that gained him critical and popular acclaim. His two platinum LPs – Every Kingdom and I Forget Where We Were brought him Brit Awards, Mercury Award nominations, and a place on the Glastonbury stage. Was he happy? Not really. He disliked comparisons to Ed Sheeran when his influences were moodier cutting-edge legends Nick Drake and John Martyn. Declaring himself creatively restless, his music has grown increasingly experimental. While “Is It?” was born of medical distress, in some ways it represents just another zig zag along a musical path by a creative artist known for never repeating himself through his already-storied career. 

Biography by Eric Rosenbaum

The full artist lineup will be revealed April 30

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