Singer-songwriter Benny James to play final show in MAC second Saturday series

Singer-songwriter Benny James will bring his blend of Americana, country and soul to the Milaca Arts Center’s second Saturday series of performances and art shows on Saturday, April 8, from 7-10 p.m.benny-james-pic
James started playing music around kindergarten. He dabbled with piano and alto saxophone, but his favorite instrument is the guitar. James plays most shows with just himself, his songs and his acoustic guitar, and he likes artists who can keep an audience engaged with the same minimal set of tools.
“I’ve got influences anywhere form Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban kind of stuff to Ed Sheeran,” James said. “I’ve got to listen to their live stuff and see what they sound like with just guitar and vocals.”
James didn’t come into his own as a singer until he picked up the guitar. He polished his vocal chops while working at a machine shop. Only one station would come in on the radio in the shop, and he would sing along with whatever songs came on. When he began writing his own songs, he found an outlet for the poetry he was already writing.
“I’ve always been a sucker for sad songs,” James said. “Not necessarily just flat out sad, but melancholy.”
James is based in Otsego, and he hosts a regular open mic night at Pour Wine bar and bistro there. For Milaca residents who miss him at the MAC, he will be playing at Dorothy Music Ranch in Milaca on July 15, and he has plans to record there as well in the coming months. His musical ambitions include touring and maybe one day having his songs pumping from machine shop radios.
“There’s not really a feeling better, in my opinion, than having people applaud when you sing a last note or you play a last note,” James said.
The April 8 event will double as the opening of the MAC’s second annual emerging artists show, featuring the work of students at colleges and universities in the area. Tickets are $10 for MAC members, $15 for non-members.
For more information on the Milaca Arts Center and the events it hosts, visit milacaartscenter.org or call 320-333-0244.