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Whatever's Clever

Live in Tortoise Town

by Ben Seretan

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I think the nicest thing anyone ever said to me about my whole effort to play music for people is this:

"Coming to your shows feels like you're inviting me into your house."

They meant this figuratively - to say that hearing me sing in a bar felt transportive, more intimate, maybe a bit better than simply standing there nursing an overpriced beer. But with these live recordings I would like very much actually like to invite you into my house. My actual house.

Here are two live sets, recorded under very different circumstances: the first is from July of 2020, shortly before I moved away when I wanted to play one last house show. I invited friends over and they all stood gathered, masked, a few tentatively hugging in the street while I pointed the PA speakers out the window. A very beautiful evening, and the first time I ever talked to our next door neighbors in three years of living there. Please enjoy the sound of the wind and the train and the ambulance and the Sean Paul blasting by at one point.

The second set is from in the living room, from before all of this, right before my album YOUTH PASTORAL came out. It sounds - to me - painfully optimistic and painfully wide open. Singing in my own living room I felt free - free to sing, free to say what was weighing heavily on my heart (which I do in the recording), free, as I sing, to be one of. First, some settling in, then the audience calls the My Life's Work hotline (561.926.9741), letting the syrupy drones waft from one cell phone to another. Then I begin tentatively pedaling a borrowed pump organ.

Tortoise Town is what I called my living room venue, really at first for no other reason than that I'm fond of tortoises. But as the shows kept unfolding in my living room I saw that it was a good metaphor - safe, slow, wise, the tortoise carries its house around on its back. And even though I moved away from Tortoise Town recently, I like to think that with singing - with gathering - I carry the house around on my back.

I hope this is not the end of Tortoise Town - friends and collaborators live there still - and I hope I also get it together to share more of these sets with you in the future. Please enjoy ~

** These are available for free or pay-what-you-will because we encouraged donations but we never made anyone pay anything to hang out **


released September 4, 2020

Recorded live on a zoom, indoors and outdoors, at the best venue in the entire world, Tortoise Town.

Pump organ for January set loaned by Andrew Rowan:

Cover watercolor a crude living room rendering by Ben Seretan (ha!)

Yellow shape prominently featured in the middle is a bad drawn of a beautiful sculpture by Devra Freelander:


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Ben Seretan Troy, New York


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dial 561.926.9741 for the my life's work hotline

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