by Carole Verona
Philadelphia and Chestnut Hill favorite Ben Arnold closes out the 70th Anniversary “Best of the Best” free Pastorius Park summer concert series on Wednesday, July 25, at 7:30 p.m.
To celebrate the occasion, singer/songwriter Arnold will rock the park with a four-piece electric band augmented by a four-piece horn section. Performing with him will be long-time Chestnut Hill resident Mike Hood, trombone; husband and wife duo Dave and Allison Kershner, trumpets; Jim Verdeur, baritone, alto and tenor saxophones; Jonathan Colman, bass; Matt Muir, drums; and Erik Sayles, guitar.
Pastorius Park is located at the corner of Millman Street and Hartwell Lane. If it rains, the show will move to Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 8000 Cherokee Street. The concerts are supported by the Chestnut Hill Community Association and Chestnut Hill Hospital. Ben Arnold’s concert is sponsored by Kismet and he will be welcomed by WXPN.
Arnold has been associated with Chestnut Hill for a long time. He has been a music teacher at the Crefeld School for 18 years and worked with Paul Roller as a cook and caterer in the 1980s.
“The concert series at Pastorius Park is one of the most beautifully scenic series in the city. It is so well run, attended and supported. This will be my second time playing there, so to be asked to play during the 70th Anniversary series is an honor and a responsibility. We better be good!”
When asked how he would describe his music to those who have never heard it, Arnold said, “People will hear a soulful, funky rock band with elements of folk, soul and classic rock and roll. It’s very tuneful. We connect well with the audience and our shows are a bit of a communal experience.
“This year, I put out a record called ‘Sunday Morning Meltdown’ and we’ll play quite a bit from that, some of my oldies from the 90s, and a couple of covers thrown in. It’s a high-energy, dynamic kind of show. We’re really playing at a great level right now,” he said. Expect to hear songs from Lost Keys, an album he released in 2016, and some new material that he is currently working on. “I’ve been putting out records since 1992 so we have a fairly vast catalogue to draw from. I have some very long-time fans and I like to make sure they hear stuff they want to hear and at the same time satisfy the band and me by playing some new stuff.”
Speaking about “Sunday Morning Meltdown,” Arnold said he was inspired by “the world as it is right now or the world as it was changing in November of last year.” He emphasized that “whatever your politics, you’re going to enjoy the music. There are no love songs on this record. It’s strictly a political, spiritual, gospel groove.”
Arnold has been a full-time musician for close to 30 years. What keeps him going?
“I have to maintain a level of personal creativity, growth in my art, so I write fairly constantly. It’s a bit of a compulsion. It’s how I relax, finish my days, and often how I start my days. I’m very aware of the world around me. I keep my eyes pretty wide open for ideas. It’s important to keep producing and recording music and connecting with the audience.” He is also fiercely loyal to his band.
Arnold attended the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Berklee College of Music and the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts with a focus on music composition.
For more information about Ben, his music and his touring schedule, go to benarnold.com.