Phan is a prolific poet, songwriter, and guitarist, with the soul of an improviser. He crafts his songs to give room for presence, self-expression, and improvisation in the moment. He believes that the best live music is when everyone playing is co- creating – which means that every one of his concerts offers audiences a different sound and a unique experience.
A year of jazz conservatory at Virginia Commonwealth University left Ben Phan rebellious: uninspired by the environment and fed-up with the structure, he knew he didn’t want to be an academic musician.
So Phan began his professional career as a founding member of the Richmond Afrobeat Movement, a blend of jazz, funk and African dance music which earned significant attention in the South, including a TV appearance and other media features.
A stint as Musical Director for Free Run Wine Merchants gave Phan a chance to develop his professional skills, setting up musical events for the company, which included solo jazz gigs as well as band arrangements.
Phan then joined a bluegrass and folk band, the Rusty Strings, and discovered the joy in sitting on a porch and singing together with others, simply for the love of music.
In 2014, Phan decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and his life changed forever. Along with everything else he needed, he carried a mini-guitar on his back and became known by the name “Shredder” because of how he “shredded the guitar” when he played. Five months of travel on foot, 2,668 miles from the Mexican border all the way into Canada, playing for himself and the people he met, transformed his relationship with music. He began writing songs, drawn from his experiences on the trail as well as his past struggles with depression, addiction, loss and love. The music offered hope and solace, to him and to his audiences.
Phan is a prolific poet, songwriter, and guitarist, with the soul of an improviser. He crafts his songs to give room for improvisation, presence, and self-expression in the moment. He believes that the best live music is when everyone playing is co-creating – which means that every one of his concerts offers audiences a different sound and a unique experience.
Jeff Thompson is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and performer. He likes to wear fedoras and blazers. He likes when spontaneous conversations with strangers and friends proceed like improvised poems. He often wishes he had a tape recorder in his hand. He usually ends up texting choice phrases to himself, so that he won’t forget them. Most of his lyrics come to him, melodies in tow, in the shower or in the last drops of dreaming before waking wipes the slate of his mind dry for the day.
He was born and raised in the same city that spawned Louis Armstrong, Harry Connick Jr., Dr. John, and Lil Wayne. His style sounds nothing like any of them. Except maybe Harry. A little bit. Sometimes. He left New Orleans at a pretty young age, and has lived just about everywhere else since then. He spent six months studying Buddhism in a monastery in Bodh Gaya, India overlooking a rice paddy. There were a lot of mosquitoes and it was next to a very loud bus stop. The Thai monks all smoked cigarettes. They were mostly there because their families wanted them to be. Jeff wasn’t allowed to have a guitar there, because the monks’ code won’t let them listen to music, but he smuggled one in. It was a Yemaha. Not a Yamaha. He bought it in Kathmandu for thousands of rupees. Or…eighteen dollars. He wrote one of his favorite songs, furtively, in the wee hours of the morning, just after meditation. He’s also lived in Austin, Boulder, NYC, and of course Asheville. He’s still in Asheville. He gives it two thumbs up. He thinks he’ll probably stick around awhile.