PRINCETON — Singer-songwriter Ben Bedford will take to the Princeton Coffeehouse stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Hailed as “one of the best of the new generation of American singer-songwriters” (Len Jaffe, “Sounding Board”), Bedford grew up in central Illinois, just south of Springfield. Many of his songs are inspired by the history of the heartland and people who figure in Illinois history. Among them are union activist Mother Jones and young Chicagoan Emmett Till, whose brutal 1955 murder in Mississippi drew many into the civil rights movement. He’s also written songs about the 1909 Cherry Mine Disaster and the experience of homeless people on the streets of Springfield.
“Lincoln’s Man,” the title track on Bedford’s first album, tells the story of a young southern man who defies his family to become a soldier in the Union Army. “You don’t need to be on the ship to recognize the journey,” Bedford (who majored in history major at the University of Illinois) wrote in the introduction. He has said, “I grew up in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln.”
Fittingly, Bedford’s second album is called “Land of the Shadows.” In its first month of airplay in 2009, it reached No. 1 on the Folk-DJ charts with three songs in the top ten.
After less than a decade as a full-time artist, Bedford has played on WFMT’s Folkstage (hosted by Rich Warren), at the Bluebird Café in Nashville, and in venues across Europe. Warren, who wrote in “Sing Out,” “if you’re in search of fresh, original talent, look no further than Ben Bedford,” named him as “one of the 50 most significant Folk singer-songwriters of the past 50 years.”
The Princeton Coffeehouse is located at the Open Prairie UCC Church, 25 E. Marion St. in downtown Princeton. Admission is $12 at the door. The venue is completely accessible and there is ample free parking nearby. Doors open at 7 p.m. Fair trade coffee, tea, and homemade desserts are available.
For more information on the Princeton Coffeehouse, which offers traditional and modern folk, blues and bluegrass music, monthly August to May, visit www.theprincetoncoffeehouse.com or call 815-872-6501.