Who Is Mr. Ben

Mr. Ben plays live music for kids and families in and around Portland, OR. His shows are the perfect blend of entertainment and education. Your child can participate as much or as little as they choose — they are free to explore new musical ideas and concepts at their own pace and in their own way.

So when you come to a Mr. Ben show, you can feel good about the fact that you are taking an active role in your child’s cognitive development, laying the foundation for their musical education, and helping to dispel the myth that only some people have musical potential. Who knew you could do all that just by attending a live children’s music show?


So Who Really Is Ben Thompson?

I am Mr. Ben.  Prior to the fall of 2009 I was known as Ben Thompson.

I started playing guitar at the age of 14 when my Godmother, Nancy, gave me an old Yamaha classical guitar.  (Thanks Nancy!)  I paid a neighbor $20 for 4 guitar lessons.  After those lessons I knew five whole chords, so I put them all together and wrote my first song.  Though the song itself is probably lost forever (or on a cassette tape in a box somewhere in Wisconsin), I at least remember the title: “I know who I am.”  The title at least bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Ben’s own theme song, “Yes I do I know my name (my name is Mr. Ben)” don’t you think?

With one song under my belt I was hooked.  I played guitar constantly the next two or three years.  During this time I also started working in a guitar shop in my home town of Madison, Wisconsin, called Good ‘N’ Loud Music.After a few years spent learning all I could about musical instruments, live sound and studio engineering, and everything else related to the music industry, I accepted a job with Fender Musical Instrument Corporation as a marketing rep and product specialist.  I traveled up to 300 days a year working for Fender — touring with music festivals like Ozzfest and sporting events like the X-games.

Fender then offered me a job as District Sales Manager, making me the youngest DSM in the company’s history.  That was quite an honor, but I quickly realized that being a DSM meant almost as much traveling, and even more stress than being a marketing rep.  I quickly said no thank you.

After leaving Fender I took a couple of freelance marketing jobs, most notably touring with the Dave Matthews Band in 2002 to help them release Dave’s signature flavor of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, One Sweet Whirrled.

When the DMB tour was over, I threw a backpack over one shoulder, a guitar over the other, and took off to explore the world…or at least Mexico, Central America, and Europe.

I traveled off and on for two years, coming back to the U.S. from time to time to see friends and family.  On one of those trips back I met Erin, who is now known fondly to the children of North Portland as Mrs. Ben.

But the Persona of Mr. Ben really started in the fall of 2009 when I started playing children’s music at Posies Cafe.

Since then it’s been one wild ride after the next.  I’ve had some great jobs and some amazing adventures, but I’ve never before been so sure that I was doing the right thing at the right time, both for myself and for my community.  Children benefit from exposure to quality live music, of this I’m sure.  And I’m equally sure that I benefit from playing live music to kids — experiencing and sharing their joy and their wonder.  And that’s who Mr. Ben is.

Mr. Ben in the Media

BEST ROCK STAR ROLE MODEL, Portland Monthly May 2012
Red Tricycle – Portland