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Ben Cosgrove w/ Kaiti Jones

Ben Cosgrove is a traveling composer, pianist, and multi-instrumentalist from New England. He travels constantly all over the country, performing a unique variety of original instrumental music that explores themes of landscape, geography, and environment while straddling a line between folk and classical music.

His “electric and exhilarating” live performances are at once dazzling and intimate: music that has been described as “stunning” and “compelling and powerful,” — Red Line Roots has called him “stupidly talented” — all presented with “warmth, humor, honesty, and the easy familiarity of a troubadour.”

Throughout his career, the strongest forces guiding Ben’s composition and performances have been his deep and abiding interests in landscape, geography, place, and environment. For years, he has been fascinated and inspired by the different ways people understand and interact with the landscapes around them, and through songs with names like “Prairie Fire,” “Champlain,” “Little Rain,” “Nashua,” “Sigurd F. Olson,” “Kennebec,” and others, he seeks to explore those relationships and reflect them in sound. “I don’t think of my pieces as rendering places in music,” he once remarked in an interview in Harvard Magazine, “but more just as a way of responding to places musically. Writing music just turns out to be a great way for me to process the world.”

He has returned in 2021 with The Trouble with Wilderness, a lush, textured, and expansive set of twelve new songs that consider the role of nature and wildness in the built environment. “I found I was spending a lot of time onstage talking about national parks and oceans and wilderness areas, and not enough about the places that people are more likely to encounter in their everyday lives,” explains Cosgrove, whose career has included artist residencies and collaborations with Acadia and Isle Royale National Parks, White Mountain National Forest, the Schmidt Ocean Institute, the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, Chulengo Expeditions, and the New England National Scenic Trail, as well as solo performances in 48 states.

He assigned himself the challenge of writing a set of songs that would allow him to correct this oversight, and quickly found the decision to be eerily well-timed: almost immediately after he began writing and recording demos, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic would force virtually everyone on the planet both to find a new appreciation for the world just outside their front door and to reconsider the impermeability of whatever boundary they might have imagined to exist between the natural world and the human one. It also put Cosgrove, a musician who has traveled constantly for over a decade, in the unusual and terrifying position of having to sit still. “It really made me kind of have to walk the walk, in terms of the ideas I was trying to illustrate with this new music. Instead of driving eight hours to someplace new each morning, I was going on these daylong rambles all over the outskirts of town pretty much every day for months. I was amazed by what strange, beautiful, and interesting things I noticed as I found myself looking more and more closely at all the same ordinary-seeming places that I passed again and again.”

The new songs illuminate Cosgrove’s unique position as a musician suspended somewhere between genres: “I’m either a singer-songwriter who doesn’t sing, or I’m a composer who behaves like a singer-songwriter,” he has said in more than one interview, and his chatty, disarming stage presence would certainly make him seem more like a folk musician than a classical pianist. In addition to his solo instrumental work, Cosgrove regularly tours, records, and collaborates with artists from across the worlds of folk, rock, and Americana music, and while some parts of the album recall the work of George Winston, Keith Jarrett, Nils Frahm, or Ludovico Einaudi, his extensive experiences working with folk, pop, and Americana/roots bands are reflected in some of The Trouble with Wilderness’s more impassioned and percussive moments.

“…I think the practice of formally or informally dividing the world up into a bunch of conventionally beautiful ‘natural’ parts and another bunch of utilitarian, unpretty, ‘unnatural’ ones is one of our society’s more misguided and lastingly harmful tendencies,” Cosgrove notes in the album’s liner notes. The songs on The Trouble with Wilderness, faithful to this concept, are characterized by their textural contrasts and striking juxtapositions: ethereal and asymmetrical clouds blooming above a churning and insistent piano pattern in lead single “The Machine in the Garden”; tapped and plucked noises from all over the inside of a piano snapping wildly over a graceful bassline in “Cairn”; or in the final track, the delirious, ecstatic arpeggios that slowly burst free of their constraints over the course of its ten minutes. The production by indie-folk maestro Dan Cardinal (Josh Ritter, Darlingside, Lula Wiles, Session Americana, The Ballroom Thieves) both emphasizes the physicality of the instruments involved and elevates the sounds to places that are uncannily gorgeous and sometimes almost surreal: on songs like “Oklahoma Wind Speed Measurement Club” and “Wilder,” the heavy woodenness and intricate mechanics of the piano provide a raw and visceral anchor to the disorienting layers of ambience that unfold above it. “It's meant to sound mechanical, organic and ethereal all at once,” Cosgrove recently told WBUR, “and I think a piano is just the perfect instrument for getting at those three moods.” The result is an uncommonly beautiful set of songs and a massive step forward in Cosgrove’s idiosyncratic and increasingly mature body of work. Like the vernacular landscapes he looked to in composing it, the music on The Trouble with Wilderness sits on the narrow balancing point between order and wildness and manages to lean simultaneously into both.

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7pm doors – 8pm show | $12 adv. – $15 day of

Kaiti Jones writes songs to make sense of the world, as potent storytellers do. Her songs are a garden that she tends to, rooted in existential angst or failed romances that grow into retrospective anecdotes, sometimes evolving over months or even years. “I often write or finish songs years later, when I’m able to look back with a new perspective and less pain,” she explains. Jones’s sophomore album Tossed, following 2017’s folk-leaning Vows, furthers this practice of introspection and lucid insight. It’s allowed her to confront daunting questions, and as a result, shines a guiding light for anyone who listens.

Jones has immersed herself in music since she was a small child and her curiosity and hunger led her to study the violin, viola, piano, guitar, french horn, and cello. An avid reader and writer, she turned to songwriting when she found out her mom peeked into her diary. “I started writing songs as a way to basically bare my soul, but with the cover of ‘well, you don’t know if this is really about me.’ Since middle school, writing songs has been a way for me to be honest and confessional and also ask questions, on both sides, that might be more difficult to do in person,” she says. “Songwriting has always been my safe space.”

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OLS Covid-19 Protocols:

We are very excited to begin hosting live music shows again in our listening room. OLS is committed to providing a safe environment for all who work, listen, or perform live music in our venue. Because our venue is so small, we will require all staff, volunteers, performers, and patrons to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 when they attend OLS events AND to wear masks indoors unless they are actively drinking, eating, or performing.

Proof of vaccine must come directly from the health care provider that performed the vaccination and can be a photo or physical copy of the vaccination card or record with an accompanying photo ID. Full vaccination means that the date of the performance you are attending is:

* at least 14 days after your second dose of an FDA or WHO authorized two dose COVID-19 vaccine, or

* at least 14 days after your single dose of an FDA or WHO authorized single dose COVID vaccine.

We hope we can ease these restrictions once further progress has been made reducing transmission of the virus. Until then we greatly appreciate your patience and cooperation.

One Longfellow Square does not assume liability; the ticket holder will assume all risks involved. By purchasing a ticket to this event you agree to assume full liability for any risks incurred before, during and after the event and agree to the current Terms of Use.