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Ben Reel Band Release ‘Live @ JJ Smyths Dublin’

November 10, 2021

‘Live @ JJ Smyths’ is a concert that was recorded in 2013 in the legendary, iconic but sadly now closed Dublin jazz & blues venue. Ben mixed the album during Covid lockdown when he had plenty of time on his hands. This album might never have seen the light of day during normal times with Ben’s usual busy touring schedule. The live album features mostly songs from that period, his 2013 album ‘Darkness & The Ligh’t & some of his finest songs from the previous five albums. It also includes two great cover versions, Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They are a Changin’ & The Beatles ‘A Hard Days Night’. It is now available on CD and all digital platforms.

This follows on the heels of ‘The Nashville Calling` the title of the 9th studio album which was released at the start of the pandemic on the 27th March 2020. Produced by Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack and featuring Garry W Tallent on bass from the legendary E Street Band. Recorded in Nashville the album was done and dusted in just three days with all live takes with a rootsy rock, live band feel. Work has also commenced on a 10th studio album.

Since his debut album ‘This Is the Movie’ back in 1999, Ben has reinvented himself from album to album, influenced by different styles of music over the years. As one critic said, “He’s not afraid to throw in some in folk, soul, reggae vibes, which in turn call to mind John Hiatt at his best”. Another describes him as “somewhere in the middle ground between rock and jazz or a sound that is sometimes reminiscent of Dylan and the Band”.

In a solo career which now spans over twenty years, Ben has received worldwide critical acclaim with numerous high profile TV/Radio appearances like BBC, RTE and Dutch NPO Radio.

Supporting the likes of Jools Holland, & The Cranberries and he has collaborated musically with such names as Hal Ketchum & The Blockheads. He has co written and performed live with his fellow countryman Tony McLoughlin and some of Nashville’s finest such as David Olney, Nanci Griffith & Irene Kelley.

In the past Ben was selected to play an official showcase at Folk Alliance in Memphis TN and has toured as double bill with Tommy Womack (Nashville) in the U.S & UK and also with legendary American folk singer/songwriter Eric Andersen in the UK & NL. While in Nashville he was invited to play the famous Bluebird Cafe on a number of occasions, most recently Sept 2018. Ben continued to stay in touch with his fans during Covid lockdown by playing fifty online streamed gigs on Facebook live every Friday night for one year.

Over the last ten years Ben has enjoyed successful tours in Ireland, UK, Europe & U.S.A, receiving rave reviews and attracting a growing loyal fan base. He has graced big festivals such as Jamming@Hippie Jacks (USA), Musiktan festival in Bilbao, (ESP). Haarlem Jazz & Huntenpop (NL), Robin Hood folk festival (UK), Kilkenny Rhythm & Roots, Cork Jazz & Electric Picnic.

Ben Reel says;

“I’m delighted that I finally got to release ‘Live @ JJ Smyths’ in Dublin and share it with you. This recording was made on Nov 30th 2013. It captures The Ben Reel Band at a moment in time, in full flow with all engines purring after the release of my ‘Darkness & The Light’ album (2013). Listen and you will hear the great musicians I have had the pleasure to play with down through the years, all in fine form at this gig.

My wife and soul mate Julieanne Black Reel on backing vocals and longstanding soul brothers Michael Black on drums, Ronnie O’Flynn on bass, Mick McCarney on electric guitar & John McCullough on piano & organ.

This is my A team and we always loved to appear at JJ Smyths in Dublin. It was one of our favourite places to play and to me it was the Ronnie Scott’s of Dublin. I have dedicated the album to the memory of Brian Smyth.

Now sadly JJ’s has closed its doors forever and this event was shortly followed by the tragic death of Brian Smyth who passed away before his time at the age of forty seven in 2017.  Brian who ran the family venue built up JJ Smyths to be one of the most prestigious and respected Jazz & Blues venues in the world. The Ben Reel Band were one of the only original bands to play there as Brian was a fan of our music even though we leaned to the more roots rock side of the spectrum. I’m guessing there was enough shades of the blues there to keep Brian and the JJ’s audience happy. I am forever grateful that Brian gave us the opportunity to play there to showcase my songs in front of a musically intellectual audience who knew a good band when they saw one. RIP Brian Smyth & JJ Smyths venue.”

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