Ben Carroll was surprisingly soulful and lyrical. There was sincerity and passion in his songs and in his singing. I did hear Stevie Wonder in his cadence and phrasing, and not James Taylor as some suggest, but instead a touch of Aaron Neville. Ben Carroll is a soul singer which is badly needed during this time when music is often mechanical and driven by a rhythm machine. He held the audience in his hands with his engaging style and could easily have led us out of our seats and into the aisles clapping our hands as if we were all part of a Baptist revival with his final number. He is an artist deserving recognition and with a little help from his friends hopefully he will get it.
Tom Chapin, who I've seen three times, brings the kind of optimism and enthusiasm that really harkens back to the Weavers and the Kingston Trio. Everything in me wants to resist his music having grown up on the darkness of Bob Dylan and the sarcasm of Dick Farina and the political rants of Phil Oches. Yet, he draws me in and the next thing I know I'm singing along and smiling my way out of my post apocalyptic depressive funk. We need people like Tom Chapin who brings so much confidence and enthusiasm to his songs that you want to believe. You know that below the surface, he's hoping to draw us into a better world so that the world can be better, not because he's wearing rose colored glasses. He knows what's out there. But just his sheer stage presence, all 6'6" of it, is going to drag us to the promised land or die trying just so that it can become a reality.