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Upcoming shows: Rain Parade... Matthew and the Atlas... Gratis: Makushin... Beans on Toast... Lightheaded + Mt. Misery... Jake Xerxes Fussell... Andrew Wasylyk & Tommy Perman... Cat Clyde... Charlie Parr... Mock Tudors... Dominie Hooper... Steve Wynn... Ryley Walker... Terry Reid... Chime School... The Courettes... Douglas Dare... Tusks... Rachael Lavelle... Roddy Woomble... John Francis Flynn... Old Sea Brigade... Good News... Myriam Gendron... Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra... Kris Drever... Erland Cooper... Pokey LaFarge... Admiral Fallow... Skinny Lister... The Sheepdogs... The Unthanks in Winter... Emily Barker...

When: 8pm on Wednesday 30 October 2024
Where: Night & Day Cafe, 26 Oldham St, Manchester, M1 1JN

We’re delighted to be welcome Old Sea Brigade back to Manchester!

We never know where life will take us. The path forever twists and turns in unexpected directions. Singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Ben Cramer a.k.a. Old Sea Brigade, never imagined he would be living almost 5,000 miles away from his native Georgia in Sweden as a husband and father. However, that’s where he is now!

Moreover, he’s sharing the story of this unpredictable journey on his 2024 EP series If I Only Knew (Parts 1 & 2) (released via Nettwerk Music Group).

A season of change informs the seven tracks on Part 1.

‘Five years ago, my life looked so different,’ he observes. ‘I didn’t even know where Gothenburg was on the map. If you told me I’d be living in Sweden with a family of my own, I wouldn’t have believed you. So, the title, If I Only Knew, is fitting. This record was made after getting married and becoming a dad. It was a lot to process. It’s amazing, though. I always just let whatever’s happening reflect in the songs.’

Such reflections have defined the music of Old Sea Brigade since 2016. Listeners have followed along as Ben effectively journaled his life aloud across projects such as Old Sea Brigade EP (2016), Ode To A Friend (2019), All The Ways You Sing in the Dark EP (2020) with Luke Sital-Singh, Motivational Speaking (2021), and 5AM In Paradise (2022). His catalogue has quietly generated hundreds of millions of streams anchored by Love Brought Weight, Tidal Wave, Hope and Call Me When You Land (with Luke Sital-Singh). Beyond inciting the applause of Boston Globe, Brooklyn Vegan, Consequence, No Depression, Uncut, Under The Radar, and more, he made his national television debut with a stunning appearance on CBS Mornings Saturday Sessions.

For If I Only Knew, he re-teamed with some of his closest creative confidants co-producers Jeremy Griffith and Owen Lewis. Over the course of three weeks, they recorded the project in Sweden for the first time.

‘We made some great memories together, and we really defined the sound in my studio,’ Ben smiles. ‘They challenge me in all of the right ways. We talked a lot about the differences of working in Sweden versus Nashville. Society seems less stressed in Europe. The Swedes have a saying, “Don’t be too happy or too sad. Keep everything down the middle” — which is what we tried to do.’

He initially teased this era with Polygraph. Right out of the gate, it resonated with listeners. On its heels, the single Heaven In The Right Light layers dreamy piano and lightly strummed guitar over an airy backbeat. Ben’s delicate delivery echoes on the hook, ‘Heaven in the right light, so strange, wonder what you might find.’

‘I was listening to a lot of José González, and I wanted to write a soft number,’ he says. ‘We made a loop out of different drumbeats. Jeremy suggested a key change, and we pulled it off.’

On Rest Assured, loose guitar gives way to swooning strings in the wake of a lush and lovestruck refrain, ‘Rest assured that I’m on your side. The rest is yours, and you’re all mine.’

‘It’s a no-frills, very intentional song about love — as if there aren’t enough,’ he laughs.

Synths murmur through a haze on If You Had To Ask, while a lilting piano crescendo carries the song towards a sonic exhale. Then, there’s Real Life. Acoustic guitar brushes up against a glitchy beat, and a moment of acceptance crystallises on the chorus, ‘I guess it’s real life. If it worries you, leave it alone.’

‘The lyrics were really stream-of-conscious,’ he says. ‘The message is just let go and trust the process. Focus on what you can control and do your best. I’m a firm believer everything will work itself out, and the song reflects this narrative.’

The finale, The Tourist, revolves around stark acoustic guitar, grainy beat-craft, bright flute, cinematic strings, and his so-grizzled-it’s-beautiful timbre. It ends on a gentle realisation, ‘The days of being strangers now are gone.’

‘It was inspired by feeling like a tourist when I got to Sweden,’ he says. ‘It’s not a bad thing, but most of the time, I do feel like a tourist.’

Ultimately, Old Sea Brigade’s music is just as endearing as his life is.

‘Old Sea Brigade has been my creative outlet for so many of my formative years as an adult,’ he concludes. ‘The catalogue is there to document how I felt in all of these changes and normal events that followed me around for the last eight years. I’m incredibly grateful for this life. I wouldn’t have met my wife if it wasn’t for Old Sea Brigade. It’s the reason I came to Sweden. It’s the reason I’m a dad. It’s the reason I’ve met so many of my friends. These relationships are just as important as the music is.’

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.