Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 (photo courtesy of Wikimedia)
WFUV guest host Benham Jones is on his second lap at WFUV. An early love of music led him to enroll as a Fordham student so he could work here as an undergrad. He spent his first five years with the music team diving into the sea of new music submissions and eventually making his way onto the airwaves as a host on The Alternate Side stream.
During the time in between, Jones continued in the non-profit world and then dug into developing his beloved neighborhood of Astoria, Queens, working with a group of gonzo entrepreneurs and artists, opening restaurants and community spaces. He says, “I've navigated every role in a micro start-up — swinging hammers, cooking on the line, handling payroll, curating art events, throwing parties and raves, owning, operating, thriving, and (of course) failing.”
That early love in life for music discovery, dancing, and live performance bloomed in his hometown of New Haven, CT, and his parents were “good sports” about exposing him and his sister to a wide range of arts and ideas. He says, “Some of my earliest and most vivid memories are at zydeco and reggae festivals, learning to alligator stomp and two-step.”
It might sound like a stereotype, but the local record store was a magnet for Jones. His was Exile on Main Street. “They exposed me and my friends -- at a very early age -- to a wide spectrum of underground music, everything ranging from Patti Smith to Built to Spill, and I have them to thank for my friends and I starting a band, somewhere at the end of the ‘90s.” That ultimately brought him to New York City, where he made music for many years as the bass player for long-running group The Shivers.
As an East Coast lifer, Jones gravitates to the electronic/dance and disco music here, loves Nigerian music and crate-digging for past sounds, calls Bjork “my Icelandic queen” and says all roads lead to the Velvet Underground. He has roughly 16,000 comic books and 3,000 records, runs a monthly underground film club called Cinema Under The Influence, plays chess, reads fiction, does tai-chi and attends concerts “to stay plugged in to what is current.” A proud, new uncle, in his spare time he unplugs again to tend the family tree farm, far off the grid.
“I’m happy to have landed back at FUV amongst a crew of friends,” Jones says, “cradled by music I love.”