It is summertime in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Ben Pegg, a waifish young man with a guitar, is sitting on a slab of sidewalk. A song is coming through his bright yellow battery-operated amp. In an open suitcase is a sea of bills: ones, fives, tens, twenties. On hot nights like these, the streets are bustling with performers—many times, only the most outrageous drag queens warrant a second look. But today, at least thirty people are crowded around Ben. Staying focused on his music, he digs into the guitar neck with both hands. His fingers begin to dance upon the strings and the music follows suit.
Common reactions of passers-by to this street musician: “Do you have a CD?”; “Why aren’t you in New York or LA?”; “That’s the best stuff I’ve heard in years”; “You just made me cry.” And here are some other gems: “Do you need a drink? Water? Iced coffee?”; “How much money do you need to get yourself on the road? I’ll give you as much as I can”; and, from the mouth of Seth, a loyal nineteen year old fan: “I will give you $100 to record every song you’ve ever written and send them to me. I’m serious. I need those songs.”
Ben Pegg is hard at work making good on his promise to Seth. He has put the hundred bucks towards a good microphone and is preparing to record everything. In an attempt to both fund his studio time and get his music out there, Ben is booking a college tour. He currently has 11 tracks recorded, and he has complied them onto an E.P., e, that he is selling online and at gigs.
Born and raised in Eastern Massachusetts, this 23-year-old singer/songwriter looks like a young Bob Dylan. With bright blue eyes and a polite, humble demeanor, it is difficult to imagine that this young man could have such seasoned skills and maturity of tone.
Ben’s smooth, expressive voice is reminiscent of that of the late Jeff Buckley’s. His guitar skills are on par with those of Michael Hedges. And traces of his earliest musical influences–Radiohead, Pat Metheny, Debussy, and Mozart–are felt within his intricate compositions.
What you hear on the recorded tracks is just Ben and his guitar. That’s it. That percussive beat you hear is Ben pounding away on the wood. That clicking flamenco-like noise is the drumming of his fingernails. That full bass-like sound, that’s him too, making the most of his instrument. Unlike many singer-songwriters, Ben doesn’t need a band behind him because he has a precise feel for the empty space between sounds that is so often neglected.
Anyone who sees him live will tell you that they’ve never seen something so personal on stage. Anyone who knows him will tell you that it’s a deep love of his craft that allows him to do what he does. Anyone who knows anything about music will tell you how incredible it is that he can make such captivating melodies over such complex rhythms.
Among the many unique guitarists of his generation, Ben stands out for his honesty. He uses his talent not to catch your eye and excite a crowd, but to express the multitude of sounds he hears in his head. It is through these sounds that his experiences are filtered. If only we could all be so lucky.