The Music of Ben Juneau
The Giant Emptiness Revealed
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Kansas City Songwriter Ben Juneau:
Ben Juneau has been in the music scene in and around Kansas City since the seventies. His first record release as part of a duo in 1979, under the name "Ice Skates With Arms" was titled "Buy This Record and No One Gets Hurt" has become something of a cult classic on some of the internet music blogs, and recently a copy of the used vinyl record went for about $75.
Later in the 80's Ben would form "Three Businessmen" with the late Ron Rooks, owner of Music Exchange an iconic Westport establishment. Over the years Juneau has opened for such artists as Joan Baez and The Ozark Mountain Daredevils.
Ben Juneau's solo release "Let the Madness Begin" received glowing reviews upon it's release in 1998. There was little or no promotion from the record company, but received some word of mouth buzz and is still available on Itunes, CD Baby, and several other websites.
Ben's new release is " The Giant Emptiness Revealed". 14 songs that vibrate with beautiful crisp guitar and smart moving lyrics falling somewhere between the dusty plains of rural Kansas and the seamy underground of the urban landscape of KC. His songs are filled with emotional stories of lost and found loves, self revelations, and the search for the silver lining in even the saddest circumstance. Songs like Sleepy Hollow, A Little Faith, $500 Car, and Wayward Love stack up against anything being heard on the radio today, and showcase Ben's ability to turn a phrase around an interesting melody line that you might find still swimming around in your head hours later.
" The Giant Emptiness Revealed" is available on Itunes, CD Baby, and Enneagram Records.com.
Let The Madness Begin
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Reviews for "Let the Madness Begin"
"...13 tracks of intensely probing words and music inspired by painful adult experiences." THE KANSAS CITY STAR
"If anything will win you over, it will be his ability to change moods instantly and support his honest lyrics with music that is perfectly tuned to the atmosphere of each song." THE AQUARIAN WEEKLY
"...Let the Madness Begin is a thoroughly engaging set that deserves national attention." PITCH WEEKLY
"All of the musicians on the album give incredible performances and accent Juneau's writing very skillfully." THE HARBINGER"It's a joy to listen to Juneau's muse bounce around while he deftly navigates so many musical terrains." INFOZINE
CD Review Miles McMahonInfoZine, May 1997
A twenty-year veteran of the K.C. music scene, Ben Juneau brings his masterful songwriting and his throaty blues/folk delivery to Let the Madness Begin.
Juneau's Holy Trinity -- his pen, voice and sly guitar -- get along very well here. He jumps styles with ease, sauntering along with the lite pop "Go It Alone", winding a C/W lament with "Harder Than the Wind Blows", then cranking out the rock with "You Don't Know Love At All". It's a joy to listen to Juneau's muse bounce around while he deftly navigates so many musical terrains.
Lyrically, his poetry would make Robert Smith look like Barney. But though his world is filled with characters who are lost and alone, drinking away their cares and longing for things past, Juneau paints them elegance. The title track is a wonderfully engaging country stomp about an alcoholic friend. "A Crime Never Tried" is hard and fast blues, filled with both despair and drive. Things might get low, but Juneau never drops the ball into self-pity or indulgence. Instead, he turns laments into romps, and invites all to join in the fun.
Review by Stephen McClurg, 1997
Let the Madness Begin is the debut album from Kansas City native Ben Juneau. Juneau is a strong songwriter who writes about love and life. The album consists mainly of melodic pop songs with a standard verse-chorus construction that seem based toward an adult contemporary crowd. The opener, "From Cold to Colder", begins with a solo vocal by Juneau and leads into a Middle Eastern-sounding drum accompaniment that carries the song along with a lot of energy. The second song, "Go It Alone", is a lounge-blues song about a relationship that might be on the verse of ending. The first half of the album carries a lot of energy with it while the second half seems to fade and rely on Juneau's strength and skill in songwriting. All of the musicians on the album give incredible performances and accent Juneau's writing very skillfully, but at times there does seem to be an energy lost. The most positive aspects of Let the Madness Begin are the individual performances and the maturity of the songwriting.
Review by Scott Wilson, 1996
Unless you count the people who perk up when you mention The Jayhawks and ask, "They're from around here, right?" the local acts most often recalled by KC civilians are The Rainmakers and Shooting Star. Given the nails-on-chalkboard vocal stylings of the former and the hopelessly banal arena-rock of the latter, you have to figure the charm must be in their origins. So that would seem to indicate a guy like Ben Juneau, whose songs range from pleasant to inspired, could get some airplay and achieve a similar cachet. Any album that contains the song-opening salvo "She came back from Las Vegas all excited about a new piece of ass" should be getting airplay, gaining support.
His Let the Madness Begin is not a revelation, but it is a solid, well-played record. Thirteen original songs cover territory from jaunty country-rock to brittle folk and pre-dawn balladry. Juneau is comfortable performing solo, and you can hear that these songs were written with intimate delivery in mind. But the full band arrangements are given plenty of breathing room by Max Berry's considerate production, and percussionists Greg "Chille G" Allen and James "Chico" Battaglia lend a sophisticated assist. If Juneau's lyrics are not poetry, they prove him a more thoughtful, sincere songwriter than most recent local acts. His clear advantage is a deep, pained voice. The slow songs gain a rich drama from Juneau's thick consonants, but he remains agile enough to sing up-tempo numbers convincingly.
Every band, every singer, is from someplace. Whether that place stands up to claim its talent is another matter, of course. Ben Juneau's Let the Madness Begin is a thoroughly engaging set that deserves national attention, but hopefully not so much that he becomes the sort of novelty this city seems to make out of its musical ambassadors.
The Aquarian Weekly
Review by Holly Ennist, January 1997
From the cold plains of Kansas City comes the eclectic songwriting of Ben Juneau. He's spent 20 years playing live music in that arena, but this is his first album. If anything will win you over, it will be his ability to change moods instantly and support his honest lyrics with music that is perfectly tuned to the atmosphere of each song.
The sweet strains of "From Cold To Colder" break slowly, like daylight on the horizon. The tabla surprised me; the song has a lovely ring and an Eastern spirit. "Let The Madness Begin" is real folk, with violin and mandolin accenting each sad line of a drunk on his way downhill. "A Crime Never Tried" is prime acoustic blues, with wailing harmonica that begs for mercy. "Go It Alone" is smarmy jazz, with sax and a deep, late nightclub feeling. "Harder Than The Wind Blows" is exquisite, with charmed, twinkling piano and a soul full of torment: "Understanding her/He's a blind man painting pictures/Texture, shade and hue/Each stroke a futile gesture." Mainline country is evoked in the guitar-rich "You Turned On Me".
The Midwest can be interesting, and not the least bit corny. Give Ben Juneau a glance-you may find yourself unable to look away.
The Aquarian Weekly, Montclair, NJ