Ben Waters

Ben Waters at the piano. Photographed at his home in Owermoigne, Dorset, by Hattie Miles

Ben Waters: Lighthouse Studio, Poole

He’s worked with everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis to the Rolling Stones but after 35 years on the road and more than 6,000 gigs, Dorset’s own boogie-woogie piano maestro Ben Waters is calling it a day.

He says he’s exhausted, has put on far too much weight and is desperate to spend more time in his beloved home county with his wife and family.

First though there’s a year of farewell gigs and on Saturday Ben rolled into Poole for an evening of blues, boogie, rock ’n’ roll and much more, all delivered of course in inimitable Waters style.

It was a stripped back affair. Just Ben his piano and a rather fine  accompanying drummer called Tom. What the gig  lacked in personnel it certainly made up for in personality and sheer talent. There was some astonishing playing and music that veered from numbers made famous by Ben’s heroes like Fats Domino and Pete Johnson to long time favourites like  Dr John, Louis Jordan, Ray Charles and Cab Calloway.

There were nods of the hat too to Allen Toussaint, Bob Dylan and The Kinks. Plus some great anecdotes.There was the story about his friend Igor, the Eastern European wannabe rock star who played Johnny B. Goode on the balalaika. How zipping his son into a suitcase turned him into a sax player and how a fellow musician’s encounter with a wayward horse led to Ben recording four albums with Ray Davies.

It was a lovely, good humoured night. Let’s hope that Ben’s retirement turns out to be temporary.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2019