Three decades of playing the blues
Ben was born in Manhattan N.Y. in June of 1958 and lived there until he was four years old. The family then moved to Freeport, Maine where his father worked as a commercial artist.
Following his mother's untimely death (Ben was eleven) he went to live with his father's sister's family in Weston, Connecticut. Here he had his only guitar lessons, (about six of them). After eighteen months he went to live with his mother's sister in Woodstock, New York. Ben was familiar with the town having spent most of his summers there - his mother grew up in the village and her family had been there since about 1900. It was here that he got his first Fender - a 1963 Jaguar for $120.
When Ben was seventeen his Aunt got a job in Dallas, Texas.
Ben went along and later graduated from Lake Highlands High School in 1976 (Bobby Mack is an alumnus of '72). While still in school Ben played his first paying gig (opening a hot dog stand on I-10) with some high school buddies. Ben attended Sam Houston State University for a year and a half before dropping out. Next came a four month course at the Roberto-Venns School of Lutherie in Phoenix, Arizona where he built two guitars - an electric and an acoustic. While in the Southwest Ben was able to pick up vintage gear at pawn shops - not possible these days!
Then Ben went back to Dallas and enrolled in a community college before dropping out for the last time. During this period he started playing clubs and bars, with bands such as The Raft (the first Reggae band in Dallas - four white guys!) and Patti Stirling and the Satisfires. It was here that the muse began to strike in earnest - some of those songs remain in the repertoire to this day.
Feeling restless and homesick Ben returned to Woodstock, where he formed a blues-rock combo "The Cobras" and proceeded to entertain at the local watering holes. Ben became the singer by default (no one else would or could do it). This was a blessing in disguise because the singer gets to decide what songs to sing and when to sing them!
Wandering feet again - this time Berkeley, California for nine months - not much happened here except roller-skating in Golden Gate Park and meeting lap steel blues wizard Freddie Roulette.
Back to the mountains again (Woodstock) Ben and a high school friend, Tad Wise, formed a pop-rock group called Paramour. Most of the songs were Tad's but they did some of Ben's songs as well. Three songs were recorded in Todd Rundgren's rehearsal studio by Todd's engineer Chris Andersen. the mountains are pretty but not a lot happens there - Ben and Tad and the drummer decided to move to Manhattan and try to hit the big time. They teamed up with keyboardist Andred Cader (a stock market whiz kid who later played washboard on Talking Heads "Road to Nowhere").
However, living in downtown Manhattan did have its advantages. Here Ben met jazz luminaries such as Jaco Pastorious, Jerry Gonzalez and Rashied Ali. While hanging with these "cats" Ben met Jorma Kaukonen.
He asked Ben if he wanted to come out and "jam" with him at a gig at "My Father's Place" in Long Island. Ben did and received $100 for his efforts. A ten month whirlwind ensued including gigs at the Lone Star Cafe in Manhattan (including one memorable jam with Jerry Jemmot). Two "tours" followed - one of the south-eastern seaboard and one that went through California, Washington, Oregon, Utah and Colorado. The band did clubs and college gig - lots of tie-die T-shirts and bare-feet kids looking for a taste of the sixties they never saw. Besides jamming on "Heard it Thru the Grapevine" for 20 minutes, Ben did most of the singing and contributed quite a bit of his own material.
It was while with Jorma that Ben first felt like a "professional" musician - quitting the day job he had at the time. He had been making bases for art and sculpture as well as doing restoration of folk art and sculpture. Other straight jobs Ben had over the years included stints at Pizza Hut, making submarine sandwiches, messenger at a recording station (in the Brill Building), painting houses and being an electrician's assistant.
After the adventures with Jorma, Ben felt that the city was going to eat him alive so he moved back upstate to Woodstock and another part-time job (in a music store in Kingston, New York) he also still did the odd electrical job. At this point, Ben had two bands - The Ben Prevo Band, doing his original pop-rock stuff and a more collective outfit called the Fender Benders which did more r&b and blues. It was the latter that played support to artists like Johnny Winter and Warren Zevon.
Next stab at pop-dom was Room 101 with Phil Jones on vocals (from Quintessence - remember them?) and Adam Widoff on guitar (who played with Lenny Kravitz for a time and remains one of Ben's best buddies to this day - Adam sings, plays guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and trombone! He and Ben love to get together and cut tracks). Other members were the rhythm section from Tom Pacheco's Hellhounds (Tony Parker on drums and Joey C. on bass) and Gus Mancini on keyboards and saxophone. They cut three songs (including one of Ben's) with Chris Andersen, but fame did not strike. During this period Ben was also involved in a regular Monday night gig. Monikered "Stormy Monday" it initially had guitarist John Hall from the band Orleans as well as three vocalists, drums, bass, keyboards, trumpet and saxophone (and Ben). The repertoire was mainly r&b and funk. They would play one set on their own and the second set guests would participate. It was in this environment that Ben got a chance to play with people like Ace Frehley (Kiss), Benny Mardones, Chuck Leavell, Pee-Wee Ellis, Juma Sultan and Emmaretta Marks.
There were also late night jams with Rick Danko and playing a few songs with Levon Helm at a benefit for the local Little League. Having seen quite a bit of the US (and none of the rest of the world) Ben decided to broaden his horizons. Armed with a tape of three songs he had cut with members of Levon's band, Ben hit London. The climate was chilly - record companies did not return calls, sets were short and people were reticent about having guest artists sitting in (even if they crossed the Atlantic to do so!).
In New York, Ben had met an Irish band (the Mary Stokes Band) and knew that they had left their guitarist back in the US After a phone call, Ben was on a ferry to Dublin to play in a few gigs. He already had a return ticket booked so he went back to N.Y. This was in December 1990. Ben rang Mary the following January and she said they had management and a record deal -was he interested? Darn Tootin'! (they did release a single). Quite early in his tenure with Mary Ben started his own thing on the side. With help from Peter Moore he secured a Monday night residency at McDaids, a popular Dublin city centre pub. Ben left Mary's band in 1991.
Doing it himself, Ben then released a cassette album - "New, Blue and True" by the Ben Prevo Trio. Most of the tracks were recorded in Ireland. Three New York tracks were included as well. Ben, Joe Lahart (bass) and Tony Kelleghan (drums) were kindly helped by Gavin Povey on piano (an alumnus of Shakin' Stevens, Steve Cropper, Dion and Dave Edmunds). Also, helping with saxophones on a few tracks were Hot House Flower Leo Barnes and Waterboy Anto Thistlethwaite. It was during the initial promotion of the album that Ben made his first national radio appearances on RTE-1 (Pat Kenny and Myles Dungan) and RTE-2 (Gerry Ryan). He has also appeared on Radio-2's "Maloney After Midnight" and 98FM with Jim O'Neill. In 1996 Ben made his first national TV appearances on RTE-1 - 'The End' and 'Live at 3'.