"One of Asheville's best songwriters" -- Peggy Seeger, internationally renowned singer-songwriter-activist
Before moving to North Carolina in late 2002, Ben Scales lived 10 years on the tropical island of Saipan, in the western Pacific Ocean, 10,000 miles from the Southeastern U.S., where he grew up. Over years of steady gigging throughout Micronesia and Hawaii, Ben’s Americana roots rock style was influenced by the poly-ethnic rhythms of the island’s diverse music scene.
Ben’s CD Letter From God presents these tropical inspirations. Several of these songs have been #1 hits on internet radio, and the CD has gotten airplay on progressive stations around the country, such as WNMF in Tampa (where Ben performed live in the studio), WNCW in Spindale NC, KMUD in Humboldt CA, WTMD in Northern IL, and WWUS in the Florida Keys. Noted activist and author Ed Rosenthal plays Ben’s music on his “4:20 Report” on KPFA in Berkeley CA.
About Letter From God, Bill Dean of the Ledger wrote:
"Scales entertains and charms in the vein of John Prine and Loudon Wainwright III" -- The Ledger, Lakeland FL
From January 1993 to October 2002, Ben lived on the island of Saipan, and if you've any connection to the island, then you might just have heard of him. Maybe you met him on the beach. Or at the grocery store, the softball game, your uncle's birthday party, your sister's wedding, your office Christmas party. You heard him singing in the bars, and a couple of times, at church. You've seen him play at a festival, and sit in with the band at the club. You've seen him on TV and his picture in the paper. Frankly, if you live on Saipan, you're probably tired of Ben Scales.
Living on Saipan, a long (long) way from the big music centers, Ben eagerly embraced the MP3 technology. Through his MP3.com site, which, due to corporate greed, is now offline, he was able to measure his music's appeal outside of the two or three bars where he used to play on Saipan, and it was encouraging. One of his songs, "She Loves Me," was in the top 10 of the MP3.com Acoustic charts five different times over a period of three years. Another song, "After You Let Go" went straight to Number 1 on that same chart as soon as Ben released it in February 2002.
But Ben's biggest hit by far has been "Growing Marijuana In My Yard." Released in December 2002, it reached the top of the Bluegrass chart on February 10, 2003, and stayed there at Number 1 for 10 months, until MP3.com was shut down in December 2003. During that time it also reached Number 5 on the Country charts, surrounded by acts such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, George Strait, Mark Chesnutt, and Shania Twain (Mark's grand-niece?).
Ben Scales belts out the anthem for today's medical marijuana movement. [Growing Marijuana In My Yard] should be aired on every community radio station - hear this, Clear Channel. Even if a medical marijuana patient can't obtain medicine, at least they can tap their toes to the voice of sanity in Ben's song. No one's immune to illness, and with a song, Ben's providing the antidote to right-wing plant-a-phoebes! -- Berk Snow, host of Wild River, on KMUD & KMUE - FM, Humboldt Co. California
Ben was invited to perform “Growing Marijuana” at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (“NORML”) conference in San Francisco in April 2003, after which High Times senior editor Steve Bloom called it "the musical highlight of the conference." "So," Ben says, "I got that goin' for me, which is nice."
For all of the international acclaim Ben’s recordings have received, live performance is where he really shines. Since his move to Asheville, Ben has shared the stage with: Peggy Seeger, four-time Grammy winner David Holt (best known for his work with Doc Watson) David LaMotte, Joe Ebel & Annie Lalley, Aaron "Woody" Wood, Jason Krekel, Snake Oil Medicine Show and members George, Andy and Caroline Pond, Kevin Scanlon, as well as old-time musicians such as Ira Bernstein, and Riley Baugus (best known for his work on the “Cold Mountain” soundtrack) -- almost always at Pyper's Place, which sadly has closed (but that'll be another page entirely).
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Every summer of the last few Saipan years, Ben and his wife Cate tooled around America and other countries, seeking adventure and gathering experiences. Each fall, they returned to the tropical beauty of their Saipan home, far from the hustle and bustle of the mainstream world, to assemble the fragments of memory they'd collected. Some of the fruits of these harvests are displayed on this site.
On this site, which was developed and is hosted by Saipan's own Ron Smith, you can listen to Ben's music, watch his movies, look at his pictures, read his rhetoric, and learn about some of his friends. You can email him and/or sign up for his mailing list, or check his schedule, to see when and where he'll be playing.
Thanks for checking us out.