by Kimberly Shires
Ben Tufts is one of Washington, D.C.’s most prolific drummers, having worked with hundreds of artists. Ben’s versatility and easy nature has made him one of the go-to people for both studio work and live performances. Ben has performed a diverse range of styles including, but not limited to punk, rock, funk, top-40, metal, and Latin.
Alchemical Records met up with Ben at the Lost Dog Cafe, where he used to volunteer to spend time with with dogs waiting for adoption. Ben’s altruistic nature is not limited to dogs. Ben hosts an annual concert where all proceeds support the Craig Tufts Educational Scholarship Fund.
On April 6th, Ben Tufts & Friends will host their fifth annual tribute show. This year’s concert will be hosted at Gypsy Sally’s and will start at 8:30 PM. The show is a tribute to some of the great artists of 1969, such as Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, and Joan Baez. Local artists will perform, including Kristie diLascio, Aztec Sun, Bobby Thompson, Holly Montgomery, and Hayley Fahey. The show will be sponsored by 7DrumCity in Washington, D.C. Proceeds from the show will be donated to the Craig Tufts Educational Scholarship Fund. For more information and to purchase tickets, click <a href=”http://www.gypsysallys.com/event/1833587-ben-tufts-friends-present-washington/”>here</a>.
The Craig Tufts Educational Scholarship Fund was set up in honor of Ben’s father, who passed away ten years ago after losing his battle with brain cancer. Craig Tufts, Chief Naturalist of the National Wildlife Federation, communicated his wish to establish the fund. Ben recounted a sentiment that he learned from his father’s by saying “if you want the ideas and the concepts that you hold dear…to outlive you, you’ve got to pass them on to somebody.” The Scholarship Fund sends one child each summer to participate in an outdoor education and adventure camp connected with the National Wildlife Federation. The 2017 winner, 10-year-old Melani Sleder, recorded 319 bird species, initiated a library program for young bird lovers, and became a certified nest-watcher. For more information about the Fund, visit: <a href=”www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Education-Programs/Craig-Tufts-Educational-Scholarship>www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Education-Programs/Craig-Tufts-Educational-Scholarship</a>.
Last year, at least 50 musicians donated their time for the two-night event. Ben said it is important to feature diversity, and he is committed to booking female artists on half of the bill. Ben keeps a spreadsheet of artists he books for local venues to ensure that he strikes a gender balance and includes artists of color as well as LGBTQ artists. Ben loves that artistry connects people, narrows gaps, and strengthens community through the inclusion of all sorts of people. Ben said that, statistically speaking, female drummers do not start many bands, despite being just as skilled as the rest of the drumming community. Ben says, “It’s crushing that my female students haven’t seemed driven to start bands like my male students have.”
Ben identifies strongly as a teacher, and he has drumming studios at both 7DrumCity in Washington, D.C. and the Contemporary Music Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Ben credits his father with his love of teaching, reflecting that “when you see somebody get excited about something, it makes you ask yourself if you should be excited about it too.” Ben remembers his father would suddenly stop and say “look and listen” with the an expression of sheer joy on his face, one that he kept throughout his life.