Songs of Positivity
Name: Ben Larsen
City of residence: Sturgeon Bay
Instrument: Acoustic guitar
Has performed with: Blackwood, Fresco, The Johnsons, The Works, Ben There Dan That
Genres: Singer-songwriter in Americana, folk, rock, pop and country
Door County connection: Third-generation local
Last Door County performance: “Due to the pandemic, much of our live-music scene had to go virtual. My last virtual appearances have been at the DCA Spring Training Series, DCA Play It Forward concert and the ADRC. I’m looking forward to playing live again at different venues and weddings around the county this summer.”
Latest work: Currently performing aboard the Fish Creek and Sister Bay Scenic Boat Tours, as well as at Harbor Ridge Winery on select weekends.
Vanessa McGowan (VM): Who or what first got you into music?
Ben Larsen (BL): My mother, Margi, brought music into my life as soon as it started. She sang in church, as well as in a barbershop quartet called the Trouble Clefs. My first performance was a solo of John Barry’s “Born Free” in kindergarten, and I was hooked.
I joined all the Sturgeon Bay High School choirs and bands that I could, and even started another band, Blackwood, with my friends, playing our first gigs at high school dances throughout the county.
After high school, Michael Raye brought me into his band Fresco as a conga player. It wasn’t until joining the Heritage Ensemble (now known as Northern Sky Theater) that I started performing guitar.
VM: How would you describe the music that you typically create?
BL: I re-create songs written by a broad mix of artists, including some of my personal favorites: James Taylor, Keb Mo, John Prine, Loudon Wainwright III. I’m drawn to performing covers of songs with a positive or heartfelt message and songs I can pour my own heart into.
VM: If you could open a show or play for any artist, who would it be?
BL: Keb Mo. I feel like we would be very good friends. As a drummer, I would have loved to play for Little Feat.
VM: When you’re not making music, what’s your day job?
BL: I took over my father’s business, Larsen Coin Machine, when I was 20 years old, setting up jukeboxes as well as pool tables, dart machines and video games in taverns and resorts throughout Door County. I’ve since left the industry and am pursuing my dream of making music my day job.
VM: What have you missed the most with the lack of gigs in 2020?
BL: There is nothing like the energy you get in front of a live audience. When I glance up and see someone listening and connecting to my music, that’s the best.
VM: What exciting projects do you have on the horizon?
BL: The postpandemic horizon is bright – getting back to performing at weddings, wineries and everywhere in between. I am simply blessed to be able to play music for a living and to enjoy performing as much as I do.