What is it about gravelly voiced singer/songwriters from Minnesota? St. Paul-raised Ben Weaver has been making music for the better part of his 31 years and began generating acclaim with his first foray into the studio, 1999’s El Camino Blues, recorded before he was old enough to drink in the bars where he played. The appearance of renowned singer/songwriter Greg Brown on the album raised Weaver’s profile right out of the gate, but it was his singular voice and songwriting style that held the attention of fans and critics, attracting favorable comparisons to the likes of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen.
Weaver’s 2002 album, Hollerin’ at a Woodpecker, was his international breakthrough, earning him a No. 3 ranking in Mojo magazine’s compendium of the year’s top Americana albums, paving the way for his first overseas tour in support of his fourth album, 2004’s Stories Under Nails.
For his elaborate and textural sixth album (and Bloodshot Records debut), 2008’s The Ax in the Oak, Weaver teamed with producer/multi-instrumentalist Brian Deck for a work that showcased his musical chops. But Weaver’s road weariness forced him to take a break from touring and found him pursuing his passion for food as a prep cook for a farm-to-table restaurant in Minneapolis. These experiences were the foundation for the songs that eventually comprised Weaver’s latest album, the sparse and powerful Mirepoix and Smoke, released in October to some of his best reviews to date.
Weaver is also an acclaimed poet with a pair of published collections to his credit (a third is expected sometime next year) and his short story “Humanesque” was included in Amplified: Fiction from Leading AltCountry, Indie Rock and Folk Musicians, an anthology that also featured works by Patty Larkin, Rhett Miller and Mary Gauthier, among many others.
With Mirepoix and Smoke, Weaver returns to the road after a long stage hiatus. Given the album’s raw intimacy and vulnerability, this could be the most affecting tour of his career.
(Get details on the free show and the club here.)