Get to know Ben Caplan, with these 10 little-known facts about this award-winning Canadian folk artist.
Tip: Listen to the Old Stock album as you read this blog – it’s the perfect soundtrack.
1 – Music wasn’t his first career choice.
Originally, Caplan dreamed of a life as an actor, but he talked himself into a more “realistic” career as a musician. He tells ArtsLife, “I grew up wanting to be an actor, but at a certain point I said to myself, ‘Get real kid, this is never going to happen.'”
Ironically, Ben has become an actor after all, staring in the hit musical that he co-created, Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story. The musical was recently nominated for 6 Drama Desk awards during it’s Off Broadway run in New York City and the play is now touring the world with Caplan in the leading role.
2 – Or his second.
He went to university with the intent of studying philosophy and becoming an academic.
While he went a different route, he still considers it part of who he is: “When I was in FYP [Foundations Year Program at King’s] I thought I wanted to be a philosophy guy with a music hobby, and now I’m a music guy with a philosophy hobby.”
3 – But he has been playing music his whole life.
Caplan says he’s been singing and performing since he was a child and began playing guitar in high school rock bands.
In university, he started broadening his musical horizons and has become an accomplished multi-instrumentalist.
4 – He is inspired by Eastern European folk music traditions.
Caplan’s musical style is informed by the Jewish cantorial music that he heard as a young child attending synagogue. Years later, he heard similar melodies being played by a Balkan style brass band on a street corner in Belgium.
“Suddenly, hearing this band, I realized there was a deep wealth of music that had been bred into me from a very young age that I had been completely ignorant of,” he told The Canadian Jewish News.
5 – He has a band.
While he occasionally performs solo, or with Symphony Nova Scotia, Ben Caplan has been cultivated a band of side players for many years. The instrumentation changes a little bit here and there, but honing the sound of his band is part of Ben’s writing process.
For all of his upcoming tour dates, Ben will be performing with four other musicians playing a wide array of instruments including piano, accordion, clarinet, saxophone, flute, drums, and even synthesizers.
6 – He loves a good breakfast.
In an interview with Exclaim!, Caplan shared some of his favourite Halifax hotspots, which includes The Coastal Café: “It is gourmet shmancy breakfast at its finest,” he says.
7 – He isn’t originally from the East Coast.
While Caplan has earned himself great recognition in the East Coast (and beyond), he’s actually originally from Hamilton, Ontario. He first came to Halifax in 2005 to attend King’s College and never left.
He still makes his home in the North End of Halifax when he’s not on the road touring.
8 – He’s made his theater debut.
Caplan is currently starring in Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story, which has been earning accolades both locally and abroad. He co-created the play, which has been named a critic’s pick by the New York Times, with Hannah Moscovitch and Christian Barry.
9 – And his recent album was adapted from the play.
Ben Caplan’s 13 track Old Stock album was inspired by the true love story of two Jewish Romanian immigrants who came to Canada in 1908.
10 – You can catch him on tour until October.
Caplan has been touring through North America and Europe since the beginning of May. After his show in Halifax, he’s off to London, UK and will spend the remained of his tour in Europe.
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