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Ben Crane: Western Singer, Songwriter, Entertainer, and Cartoon Artist
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Ben Crane Leanin' Tree page!

The fine folks at Leanin' Tree have surprised me once again - today they launched the Ben Crane artist page, where you can check out all the current pieces (63 at this point) available to you for purchase. You can keep up with my latest work with them, and order not only your favourite cards and gift items, but now e-cards and even personalized cards. And get them all at great value.

Leanin' Tree is America's most respected name in western greeting cards. They're a fambly-run outfit, and incredibly fantastic to work for. I'm very proud of my association with this great company.

Head on over to the Ben Crane artist page and have way too much fun!


Playing with High Valley at the 2013 CCMA Awards

Rising country music stars High Valley invited me to play Dobro for their appearance on the 2013 Canadian Country Music Association Awards show, live-broadcast across Canada. It's pretty much the biggest nationally televised event this nation boasts of, with multiple reruns throughout the following months. High Valley, three brothers from La Crete, AB, has taken the nation by storm with their upbeat and very positive family-friendly songs, many of which are originals and co-writes. Hits like "On The Combine", "Let It Be Me" recieve constant airplay. I've known these boys since Brad, the oldest, was 12, Bryan and Curtis not too far behind, and watched them grow up and find opportunities to flourish under mentorship of fine musicians like Brian Barrett and Paul Brandt. All three boys are married now and at least one of them even shaves. They are like sons to me and I'm proud of not only the media attention they're getting, but moreso that they haven't allowed this new-found fame to water down who they've always been; strong young men with an unwavering and practical faith in God.

They were nominated for two awards this year: Best New Group, and Interactive Artist Of The Year, and brought home the Interactive. All the best you guys - you rock! I'm grateful that you remembered the Old Fart and asked him to join you onstage to share your cool opportunity.

2013 CCMA Awards, Rexall Place, Edmonton AB, Sunday September 8, 2013. Watch our performance here (scroll down to High Valley - Let It Be Me). If I wasn't wearing my hat you'da never saw me! Special thanks to Julian Tubb for borrowing me one of his fine Resonators that he builds.

High Valley on their inaugural performance at the Grand Ole Opry; about as big as you can get as a country artist or band.
High Valley on their inaugural performance at the Grand Ole Opry; about as big as you can get as a country artist or band.

Wild West Playing Cards

Okay, so I'm a bit on the slow side. But I am a snappy dresser. We've had these playing card decks out for half a year but had no idea where to direct people to buy them. Never even thought of Google... let me back up. We been wanting to do playing cards for over 20 years but never had contact with a company big enough to manufacture them at an affordable price. Our licensing agent, JQ Outdoors, took the project on and found the biggest and bestest outfit, River's Edge, to publish and distribute this deck. Completely redesigned from the ground up by myself and JQ, this Bridge-size coated deck contains a picture on the face of every card. This is great because if you lose at Poker like I generally do, you can innerduce this deck into the game and distract your worthy opponents by the artwork, thereby raking the chips your own self. We can't keep enough of them in stock at our shows; they sell out very fast at $5 a deck.

We never knew where to point those of you who haven't been to one of our concerts until a phone visit with Vonda Of Kansas, who was smart enough to Google. Why I never thunk of that I'll never know. Remember I am a snappy dresser...

So if you Google "Wild West Playing Cards Ben Crane" you'll find a myriad of online outlets for these cards, ranging in retail price from $5.95 at Amazon to $4.95 at Shopwiki to$.99 at Family Center $2.95 at sav-on-closeouts. At the time of this posting. Make sure you put my name in the search parameters because there's other decks out there with the same title. Have fun with the new cards!


Now with Rural Voices

We recently joined Rural Voices, a Green Hectares program, which is a unique registered speakers bureau geared towards and designed specifically for rural and agricultural audiences across the country. My people. It has become increasingly clear to me that my motivational message about not having to be perfect in order to be useful (my left hand being gimped on account of Thalidomyde) seems to be a big encouragement to folks, so we are looking at adding motivational speaking to my roster of services. Several other speakers and agencies have recently expressed their opinion that I should get into this, so here I are. The music of course will still play a large part in the speaking engagements. I have no idea where this will go but if this fits in to what you're looking for with your event, simply go here to get the ball rolling.


Taylor Guitar endorsement!

Christmas came early this year - very late fall 2012 we received news that Taylor Guitars endorsed me. Their Artist Program gives professional players a leg-up by vastly reducing the retail cost on any model, so it isn't a giveaway, which keeps players honest, but it sure makes it a whole lot easier to get your hands on an absolute top-quality instrument. This in turn somehow beefs up the level of your playing, making you a better artist. I was told to go to their site an pick out the guitar I always wanted. After much consideration I couldn't tear my eyes off the Presentation Series. Although I've always been a dedicated fan of the dreadnaught sound, the asthetics of the Grand Symphony body shape just grabbed me by the neck hairs. The back and sides are highly figured cocobolo from central Mexico, and I chose a cedar top to keep the tone warm. A unique beveled armrest made from ebony and contoured into the binding adds unbelievable comfort to the top of the guitar as you're playing it. Other artistic features are an extravagant amount of abalone inlay, including a gorgeous vine inlay along the fretboard. Here's more images and information on this guitar, and while you're there snoop around to see the other models they offer. Taylor asks from 6 - 8 weeks to build a guitar, but one day short of the 4-week mark they called to inform me that my piece of art was shipped, bringing it to me just short of Christmas. I can honestly say that I've never played as high quality an instrument as this one. The tone is very balanced, deep and crisp - and the electronics! Taylor reinvented how an acoustic instrument is amplified, and the result of their patented Expression System is stunning. It actually made my wife, who runs sound at our shows, drop her jaw when she first brought up the fader.

Special thanks also goes to Dorothy Lethbridge for setting this whole scenario up, and to my Mom for additional help in the paperwork.


Featured in Canadian Brushstroke Magazine

A very nice e-zine covering Canadian fine artists and the industry has just released their Sept-Dec 2012 issue, in which lies a feature story about my speckled career. They done a real great job of keeping things accurate and my hat's off to Susan and her crew for that kind of integrity that's sure looking rare today. You can view the issue here and if you'd like to subscribe to this fine e-zine simply go here and follow the links.


Brand new Little Chief book off the press!

Just in time for Christmas - here's the second in the popular Little Chief series of childrens books authored by Victor Lethbridge. In Little Chief and the Gifts of Morning Star, Singing Feather and her horse join Little Chief in an adventure which transforms her loss and grieving into self-discovery and resilience through a new found hope. The previous book, Little Chief and Mighty Gopher: the Pemmican Frenzy, just recently became a best-seller, and has won many awards already. I was honoured to be asked to illustrate the second book as well, and I'm happy to have my work associated with something real positive like this series. These are ready now for order. Simply click on over to Tatanka Workshops and contact Dorothy. She's really the only one who knows what's going on in that outfit anyways...


Song competition

We've got six of my tunes in this year's Christian Song Competition, and this is your chance to vote for them. Or - if they really stink, you should probably vote for someone else... Click here and follow the VOTE link to register your votes. The songs are judged by some pretty big hitters in the music industry, including George Canyon, the panel being made up of writers, performers and industry executives. The top 10 songs will be announced in late January, with final decision due early February. We'll keep you posted.

And if you're a songwriter you can also apply before the end of November.


Brand new CD out!

We're excited to announce that we've finishing up production on a brand new album which is now ready for purchase here or on iTunes. It's a different project than anything we've done yet - a praise and worship album called Wonder Working God. It's decidedly country-rock in style and we've had way too much fun producing this. Most of the songs are somewhat countrified arrangements of some of the new worship tunes we play in church every Sunday, with a few new originals and a couple old classics. Lots of steel with multiple CMA award-winning Jeff Bradshaw who just happens to be a neighbour of mine, plenty of fiddle by Edmonton's notorious Byron Myhre, and even some blues harp by Nashville's incomparable Buddy Greene. The rest of the instruments were done by yours truly.

At this point you can hear samples of each song on the iTunes page. We've also added a LYRICS page to this site, where you can download the words to all the songs, as well as author and publisher credit information. So far we only have lyrics for the latest album but intend to update it to include the other albums in the near future as time permits.


Now on Facebook

Okay - I'm a dinosaur. Got hi-speed internet just a year ago, and finally succumbed to wade tentatively into the muddy waters of social media. I have no idea what to expect but they say this is the way to stay in touch with your fans. So if you dare, like me on Facebook and let's see where this ball rolls to. Click here http://www.facebook.com/BenCraneArtMusic


Leanin' Tree

The fine folk at America’s fondest and funnest greeting card line have been way too good to work with. It’s a fambly-run outfit and the values and methods they work with are a breath of fresh air. Remember when people used integrity? These folks still do, and never digressed from that. That’s reason enough to support that company.

They’ve really upped the amount of work they hand me, so there are new cards coming out twice a year. It’s always fun to see what other folks see in my artwork, and the assignments they give me are way too much fun. We're up to an average of 6 new images each year. Here are a few of the latest ones. Check with your local dealer (that ain't the guy in a trenchcoat out there on the corner) to see which of these most recent images you can pick up and send to folks you don't like.


JQ Outdoors

We are working in partnership with a company new to us, but who’s been around for awhile already. JQ Outdoors is now my artwork licensing agent for all things outdoor sporting – hunting, fishing and camping in general. High-end product you find at outfits like Bass Pro Shops and Cabellas, these are must-haves of course for your den, cabin or bar. Tin signs, clocks, thermometers, floor mats, playing cards – the kind of things you can’t live without. All sporting my slightly twisted sense of humour. It’s their primary foray into western humour – I’m their guinea pig – and they’re already cranking out the product. Look for these and more at your local upscale sporting goods store. We'll keep you posted as product hits the shelves.

I’m gonna see if they would put artwork on a toilet seat…


Hard Times CD

We just finished my latest project, a concept album about the upside of down times. Entitled Hard Times, it’s a collection of 7 brand new original songs and covers of three other tunes, one by the great Merle Haggard, one made famous by Flatt & Scruggs, and a loving treatment of the old western classic Old Paint.

I had a strong desire to put out an album of positive material about what we are all facing in one way or another, but because of my own version of hard times had no money to record it at the studio I’ve been associated with for 25 years. I was complaining to God, asking Him why He gave me such a strong drive for this project but no way to pull it off, and He kept whispering “GarageBand”. I thanked Him for His attempt at humour but told Him I was trying to be serious here, but He kept repeating “GarageBand”, so I tried it. Turns out He was right. As usual.

Check out the samples and order here.

Hard Times is also available for download on iTunes.


New kids book

Last year I was commissioned to illustrate a real neat book on bullying and self-esteem, written by native author and musician Victor Lethbridge and designed primarily for native children, although any race can get something out of it. Little Chief And Mighty Gopher: The Pemmican Frenzy caused a bit of a stir in the awards department when it hit the streets, winning the 2010 Moonbeam Bronze Medal for best first book by an author, the 2010 Griffin Award, the 2011 Nautilus Silver Medal in the childrens book category, 2011 R. Ross Annett Award, and the coveted 2011 Alberta Book Award for Childrens and Young Adult Book of the Year.

This was my first major commission where the illustrations were done digitally, and it was way too much fun. We are currently working on the second book in the series.

Watch a video with Victor's music and my illustrations here.


Jinglebob Music opens new recording studio

GarageBand is a recording software that comes with the Mac operating system. Add a few components to it and you’ve got some pretty useable stuff. Sure, it has its limitations, but then again so does everything else. I bought EZ Drummer’s Nashville drum package which is performed by Harry Stinson, probably Nashville’s top session drummer, which gives me real drums, not synthesized. Other instruments are very real sounding and easy to work with. For the rest – vocals, acoustic and electric instruments – we purchased a few good mics and as long as the furnace isn’t running or the crows outside have quit fighting with the magpies we can track those real well.

As a result, we at Jinglebob Music have opened our doors and hung out our shingle as a recording studio. Between GarageBand and Cubase, and the use of hi-speed internet which allows us to send files back and forth with other session players virtually anywhere in the world, we can now work with you to put out an album with professional qualities. With the independent music scene and the rise of non-commercial format internet radio, this opens the doors for this style of music. It doesn’t have to have that squeaky-clean, impersonal commercial sound anymore. Reality is now welcomed back into music, where the emotions captured are more important than an end result wiped clean of all mistakes and sanitized to the point of sterile. Did I just say that in my outside voice?! Like EmmyLou Harris said – the living room is back in the music.

So if you’re looking for a way of capturing your music, professionally yet still personal, give us a try. We offer a one-stop experience – producer, engineer, arranger, session player, and package design (see design samples here), for very competitive rates. Oh, and we have way too much fun at the same time, and can even put you up in our bunkhouse and feed you too. We brew a killer cup of coffee and nobody's kicked the bucket on account of bad burritos.

Call or email us for more details, and listen to audio clips of music recorded and produced in this studio here.


Now on iTunes and YouTube

Yesterday I woke up to the fact that it ain't the 1900's anymore, so I went to work, uploaded two of my most popular albums onto iTunes, and with the help of my favourite oldest niece here on the home section created and uploaded to YouTube a video of my latest song, Geezer In A Speedo. These experiments are the funnest - nobody really gets hurt. So we'll see how a moderately slow integration into social media goes. The larnin' curve is incredibly steep, but I already know how to turn a computer on, so I'm halfway there already. They say the next thing I need to look at is Facebook. Hooboy...  Until then, stay in touch with my schedule.

Use the links below to follow the yellow brick road, leading to the pot of gold what awaits you. I just realized that I'm still lost in the 70's or 80's yet.


Site update

We realized that this old site needed some new clothes, so we reworked the pages, updated photos, and will stay current with news and events. I noticed I have a few gray hairs that ain’t in the old photos; not on account of growing old, I’m just gaining some respeck.

Enjoy the new site, grab a coffee and come on in and check out the new features.

 


Ben Crane
Phone: (403)-729-2747
Email: ben@bencrane.com
Lunch Crew - by Ben Crane
This here web site is Copyright (c) 2004 - 2014  Ben Crane
If you wanna use anything you see on this site, please contact me first!
Thanks fer stoppin’ by! - Ben Crane -

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