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American Rambler with Colin Woodward


Dec 20, 2019

Musician and actor Ben Dickey is the star of the 2018 biopic Blaze, where he played the doomed, legendary singer-songwriter Blaze Foley. Blaze was from Arkansas and so is Ben. As he tells Colin, he learned music from his grandfather, who sang and played guitar, turning him on to country stars Jimmie Rodgers and Lefty Frizzell. Ben drew on many influences growing up, and by the time he was in high school, he was playing and recording for the math rock group Shake Ray Turbine.

Ben left Little Rock for Philadelphia. A day job as a chef helped him pay the bills, while he played live gigs and recorded several albums with Blood Feathers. In Philly, he met his lifelong sweetheart, who was friends with Ethan Hawke's wife. Ethan and Ben became friends, and Ethan would direct Ben in Blaze later. It was Ben's first major role, and his turn as Blaze won him an acting award at Sundance.

These days, Ben tries to balance a life as a busy actor and musician. Music remains his first love, but he is working with Ethan Hawke again on a cable series about abolitionist John Brown. The show will air in 2020 on Showtime.

Ben's been around the country and back, a journey that has involved everything from gigging in a Bob Wills cover band in Arizona to playing with John Prine and sharing the screen with Kris Kristofferson. Among his many talents, he also does a killer Bill Clinton impersonation. 

 

Music in this episode: Ben Dickey and cast, "Let Me Ride in Your Big Cadillac" from Blaze soundtrack; Ben Dickey, "The Bizzy Waltz," from A Glimmer on the Outskirts; Ben Dickey and cast, "Clay Pigeons" from Blaze soundtrack; Ben Dickey; "Down the Shore," from Sexy Birds & Salt Water Classics