Ben Wakeman has been playing music and writing songs for nearly 30 years. He grew up in the small North Carolina mountain town of Boone, just a couple of miles up the hill from bluegrass legend Doc Watson. Boone was a creative place for a boy to grow up, surrounded by the beauty of the mountains and the hardworking people who have called the place home for generations. This rootedness in nature, tempered with the influx of culture and academia that flowed through the local college, Appalachian State University, gave Wakeman a diverse education and an abiding love for creating. This sense of place and connection to the natural world are themes throughout his best material.
Wakeman played in numerous bands throughout high school and into college, touring around the southeast and at one point the Middle East during the first Gulf War conflict as part of a USO tour. As he was finishing up his music degree, he found himself picking up the Stratocaster less and less and reaching instead for his acoustic. It was at this point that his songwriting made a steep climb to the next level. He was drawn to and profoundly influenced by artists in the Fast Folk movement including John Gorka, Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin and David Wilcox. This is what eventually called him to leave Boone after graduation and to move to Atlanta, Georgia where there would be more opportunities.
Once in Atlanta, he quickly identified the place he wanted to be: Eddie's Attic. This little club was second only to the Bluebird in Nashville, Tennessee for being the place to encounter great songwriters. It was here that he first met Shawn Mullins and Kristian Bush (of Sugarland fame) who became his friends and mentors. During this time he would also get the chance to meet and work with other great talents like Gillian Welch, Kristen Hall, Ellis Paul, Martin Sexton, Indigo Girls, Jennifer Nettles, John Mayer and Clay Cook of Zac Brown Band.
Wakeman worked his way up from open mics, to opening slots to eventually headlining at Eddie's. Being a part of this fertile and vibrant acoustic music scene was an invaluable education. Getting to collaborate on and off stage with these artists was a huge boost in Wakeman's career, personally and professionally. He grew not just as a writer but as a performer, learning how to hold an audience and deliver. But this upward trend would soon plateau and his career would take a turn. Wakeman married the love of his life and their desire to make a family outweighed the his desire to live on the road as a troubadour.
Wakeman settled down, taught himself to program and eventually got work building web sites and later software applications which he continues to do today. Though a hard one, this choice allowed him to be there every day for his two boys as they grew up.
Through the years he has continued to work hard at his craft, delivering five albums, continuing to write and play regional shows all while maintaining a full time career as a software developer. His guitar playing has only gotten smarter and more soulful, just as his voice has warmed and deepened with the wisdom of experience and a life well lived.
Wakeman's restless creative inclinations continue to drive him to reinvent himself. With a podcast series called Take Me to the Bridge, he created the opportunity to sit down and have in depth conversations with many of the songwriters he's always admired, drawing from them stories from their lives and songs.
In the last four years Wakeman has focused on writing fiction. He completed his first novel, Rewind, Playback which was published at the end of 2014. In the novel, Wakeman draws upon his own experience, exploring the intersections of music and commerce, loyalty and ambition, and love and friendship. In addition, he is working on a collection of short stories, many of which can be read here on the web site.